Lifestyle

Budgeting for healthy and delicious meals this season


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We’re coming to the end of Nutrition Month, but the messaging is one that will last for a long time, especially in view of the escalating food prices facing many. Research from Ontario’s Daily Bread Food Bank reveals the average grocery bill in Canada has risen over 170% over the past 20 years, and an estimated 5-7% increase in food prices so far in 2022. Add to that the recent Canada’s Food Price Report predicting that a family of four “will pay up to $14,767.36 for food, an increase of up to $966.08 from the total annual cost in 2021,” and you know many will be doubling down on making sure every grocery penny counts, as reported on the company’s website.

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The Daily Bread Food Bank – like food banks across the nation – provides emergency food service to those experiencing hunger while at the same time advocating for long-term change to end. The organization works to bring not only wholesome foods to those in need, but offers guidance to create healthy and nutritious meals for everyone.

That’s the key – tasty, good-for-you foods that won’t strain the family budget. To celebrate Nutrition Month, we’ve sourced a variety of yummy recipes for you, including one from the Daily Bread kitchen – they’re all nutritious, easy-to-follow recipes using simple and budget-friendly ingredients to help stretch a grocery dollar yet at the same time put a delicious, nutritious meal on the table.

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Stuffed Peppers – Dailybread.ca.
Stuffed Peppers – Dailybread.ca. Photo by supplied /Dailybread.ca

Stuffed Peppers

Courtesy Dailybread.ca. Serves 6

1/2 cup parboiled rice

1 cup water

3 large green peppers

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 lb. ground beef

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning (or any combination of dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and/or basil available in your pantry)

1 tsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can/jar (about 650ml) tomato sauce

100g grated cheese of your choice

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add rice, stir once and reduce to low-medium heat. Cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes. When the rice is ready, strain and set it aside to cool.

While rice is cooking, cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove seeds and white flesh. You can leave stem on for presentation. Set aside.

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Heat oil in a medium-to-large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add ground beef, breaking it up as you go along, and blending in onions and garlic evenly. Cook beef until it starts to brown all over, stirring occasionally. Add herbs and onion powder and cook for a further two minutes. Add Worcestershire and stir well, scraping up any sticky bits from bottom of pan. Remove beef filling from heat. Mix in cooked rice and half jar of tomato sauce, saving other half for later. While beef cools, shred or grate cheese.

When beef filling is cool enough to handle, scoop and press into each half pepper, distributing filling evenly between peppers. Lay stuffed peppers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle and lightly press cheese on top of each pepper. Place into preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble and brown. While peppers are in oven, bring remaining tomato sauce to a simmer on stove. Remove baking tray from oven, plate peppers, and spoon some tomato sauce on top of each one. Serve with a light green salad.

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One Pot Bacon Mushroom Swiss Burger Pasta – Mushrooms Canada
One Pot Bacon Mushroom Swiss Burger Pasta – Mushrooms Canada Photo by supplied /Mushrooms.ca

One Pot Bacon Mushroom Swiss Burger Pasta

The addition of mushrooms to this dish stretches the protein, making one economical meal. Recipe courtesy Samantha from mykitchenlove for Mushrooms Canada (www.mushrooms.ca). Serves 4.

5 oz. gr baby spinach leaves

4 cups white button mushrooms, ends trimmed

1 yellow (cooking) onion, halved and peel removed

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 slices bacon

1/2 lb. (225 grams) extra lean ground beef

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 lb. dried penne pasta

130 gr Swiss cheese, cut into thin slices or grated

5 cups low sodium beef or vegetable broth

Pulse spinach in a food processor until shredded. Remove and set aside. Add onion, bacon, garlic, salt, pepper and mushrooms to food processor and pulse until all ingredients are ground. Add beef and pulse until combined.

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Preheat a large pot or pan to medium-high heat and add beef mixture from food processor. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until meat has browned. Add thyme, pasta and broth to pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 11 minutes at a strong simmer (over medium heat) or until pasta is cooked al dente. Add spinach, stirring to fully combine and remove from heat.

Preheat oven boiler to high. Top pasta with Swiss cheese and place under broiler for 2-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Allow pasta to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Vegetable Lentil Soup – Foodland Ontario
Vegetable Lentil Soup – Foodland Ontario Photo by supplied /Foodland Ontario

Vegetable Lentil Soup

This soup is full of delicious goodness and flavour, and it freezes well for up to two months, so make a batch and divide into separate containers. Recipe courtesy Foodland Ontario (ontario.ca/foodland). Serves 10.

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2 Tbsp. each unsalted butter and olive oil

2 cups diced onions

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups cubed 1-inch celeriac (celery root)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tsp. each dried oregano leaves, salt and pepper

2 cups brown lentils, rinsed

1 can (540 mL) diced tomatoes, with liquid

8 cups vegetable (or beef or chicken) broth

In large pot, over medium-high heat, add butter, oil, onions, carrots, celeriac and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, tomatoes and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups (500 mL) water, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Pour 1 /3 of soup into blender or use hand blender to purée until smooth. Return to pot;  stir until combined. Ladle into bowls.

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Tip: As lentils absorb liquid; soup becomes thicker after sitting in fridge. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time, to thin soup.

Shakshuka Dinner – Eggs.ca
Shakshuka Dinner – Eggs.ca Photo by supplied /Eggs.ca

Shakshuka Dinner

This one-skillet wonder is perfect for busy weeknights when you need to get dinner on the table fast. Recipe courtesy Eggs.ca. Serves 4.

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. EACH ground coriander and smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. EACH cinnamon, hot pepper flakes, freshly ground pepper

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

8 eggs

1/4 cup finely crumbled feta cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

4 Greek-style pitas, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°F. In large ovenproof high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt, cinnamon, hot pepper flakes and pepper, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and tomato paste is deep red and very fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, approximately 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Using a spoon, make 8 divots in sauce mixture; crack egg into each divot. Baste each egg with a little of tomato sauce; transfer to oven.  Bake until eggs are soft boiled or cooked to desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with feta and parsley. Serve with pita bread.

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