Friday, April 10, 2015

Food Basics Flyer Meals

On the radio today, there was a call-in show about what happens when kids don't learn to cook, which of course also delved into issues around fast-paced lives, fast food, obesity, and the lack of knowledge or ability to plan ahead. One caller mentioned that if there was a list at the grocery store of what to buy and how to cook it, a lot more people would be cooking at home. I think we all know what it's like to hit 4pm and start frantically searching cooking websites, as well as our own pantries and freezers, to figure out something healthy and hearty to cook!
I think "mania" might better describe the state of my house than that of their prices, but I digress.
Meal planning can be this easy: take a look at your grocery store's weekly flyer, see what's on special, and decide what meals you want to make from those sale items. Taking the advice of that caller, I'm going to make it a few steps easier today by providing five meal ideas, ingredient lists, and recipes. I've also tried to structure the list around the store's layout. I'm working off the Food Basics flyer for April 9th-15th (yes, Thursday-Wednesday sales are the hot new trend now), concentrating on loss leaders (the front and back page of the flyer) and this formula.

Sale items + non-sale/at-home items + recipes = meals

When buying sale items, do check other brands (especially the store's home brand, in this case Selection or Irresistibles) to see if its price beats the sale price of a given brand name product.

Also, the fruits aren't listed in the recipes, but are intended for delicious snacks/desserts.

Sale items

Cauliflower, 1.97
Sweet assorted peppers, 1.97
Romaine hearts, 1.97
Cucumber, 88 cents
Russet potatoes 5 lb bag, 3$/2
Strawberries, 454g, 5$/2
Large navel oranges, 99 cents/lb
Whole seedless watermelon
Fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3.44$/lb
Outside round roast, 6.99$/lb

Dempster's 7" tortillas, 2.49$

Kraft BBQ sauce 455 ml, 99 cents

Catelli healthy harvest macaroni 375g, 1.25

Danone Activia or Silhouette yogurt 650g [preferably plain], 1.97$
Selection cheese 400-450g, 3.97
Natrel fine-filtered white milk 4L, 4.99$

Non-sale or at-home items
Sweet potatoes (if you get tired of regular potatoes)
Aluminum foil
Parchment paper
Cooking spray
Oil (vegetable, olive, canola- your choice)
Ketchup (optional, for mac & cheese)
White flour

Beef bouillon
Canned corn
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
Frozen peas


Meal 1: Oven roast with mashed potatoes
Serve this tender roast with mashed potatoes.
Prep tip: It's rather long on cooking time, so either make it on a weekend or take the do-ahead-and-reheat suggestion in the recipe.

Mashed potatoes: Put a large pot of water on to boil. Peel (or just wash) and quarter 4-5 potatoes. Place carefully in boiling water, reduce temperature to medium-high, and boil for 20-25 minutes, until a fork can be easily inserted and removed from a potato quarter. Remove from heat, drain potatoes, mash, and stir in about 1/2 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of butter (adjust these to suit your taste).

Meal 2: Meat pie with roasted vegetables
Use the leftovers to make my favourite meat pie, with roasted potatoes and carrots on the side.
Prep tip: since the vegetables take longer to cook, put them in the oven first, and then make the pie.

Roasted potatoes: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash 4 or 5 potatoes and chop into approximate eighths. Peel carrots and chop into approximately the same size as the potatoes. Toss in large bowl with 2 Tbsp oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread vegetables out in a single layer and sprinkle with a few pinches of oregano. Roast for 30 minutes, then flip veggies over and cook for another ten minutes. Remember to put the pie in the oven during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Meal 3: BBQ chicken and potatoes, with carrots and peas
Chicken breasts
BBQ sauce
4 potatoes, sweet potatoes or a mix of the two
Aluminum foil
Cooking spray
2-3 carrots
About 1 cup of peas

Brush 4 chicken breasts lightly with BBQ sauce, then cook on BBQ until juices run clear, flipping once halfway through.
Prep tip: while you've got the barbecue going, cook up 3 or 4 chicken breasts for tomorrow night's fajitas as well.

Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes: poke on each side 3-4 times with a fork, then place on a plate and microwave for 4 min (5 min for sweet potatoes). While the potatoes are in the microwave, peel and chop 2 or 3 carrots. Carefully turn potatoes over and microwave for another 4 min (5 min for sweet potatoes). During this time, start boiling water for the carrots. Tear one piece of aluminum foil for each potato, large enough to wrap it. Place potato on foil square, spray with cooking oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap and repeat with remaining potatoes. Place potatoes on BBQ while chicken is cooking. They're pretty much done cooking by this point, this is just to crisp them up and infuse with the spices. While the chicken and potatoes are on the BBQ, boil the carrots for 10 minutes, then add desired amount of peas to the pot and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Meal 4: Chicken fajitas with onions, peppers, grated cheese, salsa, yogurt
Chicken breasts
2 peppers
1-2 onions
Plain yogurt

If you didn't BBQ the chicken yesterday, either do that now, or cook it on the stovetop as follows: Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat and add chicken breasts. Cook until juices run clear, flipping once halfway through. While chicken is cooking, slice two bell peppers and an onion or two. Remove chicken breasts from pan and reduce heat to medium. Add another Tbsp of oil and saute peppers and onion for a few minutes, as desired. Grate cheese. Warm tortillas, if that's what you like. Assemble fajitas to your liking.

Meal 5: Whole wheat mac and cheese with cauliflower and cut veggies
White flour

Steam cauliflower: chop up entire cauliflower, including the stem. Set in a steamer basket over boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a food processor or mash with a potato masher.
While cauliflower is cooking, set a large pot of water to boil. Once it's boiling, add 3 cups macaroni, reduce heat and cook for 8-10 minutes.
While pasta is cooking, start the cheese sauce. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup white flour and cook for one minute. Stir in 2 cups of milk and whisk regularly, until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Cook for a few more minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups grated cheese and 1 cup mashed cauliflower.
Drain cooked pasta and stir in cheese sauce. Serve with sliced peppers and cucumbers. Ketchup optional.

My companion while writing. I bored him to literal tears, and now he's upstairs napping.