Tag Archives: budget-friendly

Hamburger sitting in a food truck window

10 Canadian Food Trucks That’ll Satisfy Your Street Food Cravings

Some call them the pioneers of take-out food culture. Others call them mobile eateries with a purpose. Whatever you think about food trucks, we are glad to see them roaming the streets of Canadian cities again as pandemic restrictions continue to ease up and outdoor eating becomes more of the norm. To toast these entrepreneurs and in honour of the series premiere of The Great Food Truck Race: All Stars, here are some must-try food trucks across Canada.

Tacofino, Vancouver, BC

From humble beginnings in a Tofino, BC surf shop parking lot to now eight physical locations across Vancouver, BC, including three food trucks, and a location in Victoria, BC, Tacofino is not slowing down as one of the most popular West Coast food truck destinations. That’s because the dishes have a vibe: The list of faves is long but we recommend ordering doubles of the Baja Style Fish Tacos and the Chocolate Diablo Cookies. 

Rick’s Good Eats, Mississauga, ON

Chef Rick Matharu’s butter chicken lasagna won him bragging rights on Food Network Canada’s Recipe to Riches back in the day. So it makes sense that he is serving up the same flavour mash-ups in the mobile-version of his Mississauga resto AKA food truck. People on social media are going ga-ga over the Punjabi Beyond Burger Tandoori, Gar-Par Wings and Cheesecake Samosas. Can we blame them?

 

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Cheese Boutique Food Truck, Toronto, ON

Afrim Pristine of Toronto’s Cheese Boutique should now be a name you’re familiar with (you did catch his docu-series on Food Network Canada , Cheese: A Love Story, we hope?). Want to hear more? He’s using the CB food truck for a greater purpose. During the summer months and beyond, the truck hosts “takeovers” with different GTA restaurants serving up some seriously great eats. Some of the takeovers this past summer included the teams from The Chicken Cartel, Stush Patties and Rodie (AKA the Marben Restaurant folks in Toronto).

 

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Related: 10 Facts You Never Knew About Cheese

Buster’s Sea Cove, Toronto, ON

If you’re from the GTA or visiting the Toronto-area, this seafood spot is hard to beat. With a super popular food stall at the St. Lawrence Market, Buster’s Sea Cove has two food trucks roaming around all season round, serving up some of the best fish and chips, lobster bisque, grilled fish and seasonal lobster rolls in the GTA. 

 

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Mi Corazon, Montreal, QC

What’s better than Mexican street food at its finest? Vegan-Fusion Mexican street food it’s finest – that’s what! Montreal’s Mi Corazon has stolen the hearts of foodies since 2015 when owner-chef Rafael Martinez first came on the scene. Almost everything is made in-truck and uses some of the finest ingredients and flavours to represent the diverse regions of Mexico, mixing into local favourites – like poutine.

Chaska Streetfood, Toronto, ON

Naveen Seth has taken his obsession with Indian street food –literally – to the streets. His food truck’s name, Chaska, means obsession and he hopes to make everyone a follower. Samosa sliders, rice bowls and spiced chickpea masala offer traditional flavours with halal, vegan and loads of veggie options as well. Tip: The  Royal Rose Falooda which is an ice cream-based dish with vermicelli noodles, jelly, rose syrup and sabja seeds is perfect hue for an Insta post.

Related: The 30-Minute Instant Pot Curry a Nutritionist Makes Every Week

Jerk Brothers, Toronto, ON

Since 2003, Collin Black’s Jerk Brother’s has been serving up some delicious Caribbean flavours and hosting a list of notable clients who love to the offerings, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Drew Scott from the HGTV Canada’s Property Brothers. Expect traditional Jamaican staples when you go: jerk and curry chicken (and poutine of the same leaning), stuffed patties, oxtail and fried plantains to name a few. 

 

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Bangkok Thai Food Truck, Moncton, NB

If you’ve got a craving for Thai food and you’re on the go, seek out this truck that roams the Maritimes. After moving to Canada from Thailand over a decade ago, owner Jariya O’Brien started selling Pad Thai and spring rolls at a local market as a hobby. As popularity grew, the chef’s small operation grew into Bangkok Food Truck that now offers various dishes. 

Baluchon, Montreal, QC

Genevieve and Mathilde are the ladies behind this chic, cafe-on-wheels serving up all the feels in Montreal’s hottest neighourhoods. Some of their mouthwatering artisanal pastries include fresh fruit flans, freshly baked bread, scones and muffins. Craving something for lunch?  The grilled cheese sammy gets rave reviews online. 

 

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Rey Rays, Port Hope, ON

This family-run food truck in the small town of Port Hope, ON has taco aficionados craving some more of these authentic Mexican creations. Serving up homemade corn tortillas with their tacos, polenta fries and unique salads like the Killer Koleslaw as part of a healthier fare, there is something for every appetite to try.

 

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New season premieres September 16 at 10 PM ET/PT. Watch The Great Food Truck Race: All Stars and stream your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Feature image courtesy of Pexels.

A bowl containing cripsy pasta chips

Meet Your Next Favourite Crunchy Snack: TikTok Pasta Chips

If you’ve spent anytime at all online, you’ve likely seen any number of the recent (and tasty!) recipe hacks circulating on TikTok and beyond. Add an air fryer to the mix, and well, in comes the latest: TikTok pasta  chips.

Crispy pasta chips in a bowl alongside some dip

Serve with your favourite dip, and you’re ready to enjoy this simple and crunchy snack!

Related: Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

TikTok Pasta Chips

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-24 minutes
Total time: 29 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g rigatoni pasta (or pasta of choice)
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp granulated onion
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
Kosher salt to taste

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

Rigatoni in a bowl alongside mixins

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. Drain pasta and season with olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Toss until the pasta is well coated.

Cooked rigatoni pasta in a bowl with parmesan on top

3. Place the pasta in one single layer in the air fryer basket, fry in two batches. Air fry at 400F for 10-12 minutes, shaking halfway, until golden and crisp.

Pasta chips in an air fryer basket

4. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

Aerial shot of Korean fried chicken and tater tots

10 Best Budget-Friendly Eats in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The best restaurants in Halifax aren’t always fancy seafood spots that’ll cost you a huge chunk of your paycheque (although there’s a time and place for that too!). Some of the best eats in this beautiful Atlantic province have a price tag of less than $20 a person. From standard East Coast grub like donair and fish and chips to Caribbean food, fried chicken and beyond, we got you covered.

CHKN SHOP

This cozy spot on North Street offers fried chicken sammies (try their McCHKN!), yummy sides like roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts, as well as family combo packs. The two-person combo will cost you $27 and it comes with ½ chicken, two sides, coleslaw, gravy and hot sauce.

 

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Cafe Aroma Latino

This Latin American cafe at the corner of North and Agricola serves delish eats like quesadillas, empanadas, tacos (note: their shrimp tacos are popular for a reason!) and much more. A meal will cost you between $10 to $15 and they have a few tables outside for socially distanced eats.

 

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Sushi Shige

This small resto on Almon is arguably the best sushi spot in Halifax. How much you spend is really up to you. The salmon teriyaki dinner is $18, but you can also mix and match with your favourite Japanese eats — from agedashi tofu ($6) and nigiri ($6) to a variety of maki rolls.

 

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Backoos

This restaurant on Birmingham, close to the Halifax Public Gardens and the waterfront, has all your favourite Korean dishes: Korean fried chicken ($13 for chicken bites plus rice and dumplings), vegetarian or beef bibimbap ($11), kimchi fried rice ($12), japchae ($16) and more.

Willman’s Fish and Chips

You didn’t think we’d get through a list on Halifax best restos without including a fish and chips joint, did you? This spot at Isleville and Kane has been serving up East Cost comfort fare since the ‘40s. Their single-piece fish and chips will cost you $11, three pieces will set you back $17.

 

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Chef Abod

This Middle Eastern resto on Kempt Road offers oh-so delish dishes like falafel, kebab, Moroccan lentil soup and more. The special appetizer plate includes hummus, baba ganoush, red lentil kofta, roasted red pepper dip, falafels, grape leaves and warm pita and is only $15.

Jessy’s Pizza

Jessy’s is the largest locally owned pizza franchise in Nova Scotia, with 12 locations across the province and three locations in other major Canadian cities. Operating since the early ‘90s, they serve pizza of course, along with East Coast faves like garlic fingers ($10) and donair ($7 to $13).

Italian Market

Italian Market is a small cafe and grocer located on Young Street. They offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and famous deli sandwiches (all the sammies are less than $11). While you’re waiting for your Italian sandwich to get made, browse the grocery and gift sections of the store.

Jamaica Lee

This Caribbean food truck specializes in jerk chicken, curry, oxtail, rice and peas, beef patties and festivals, all which cost $16 or less. Order on your favourite food delivery app or head to the corner of Main Street and Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth to get your fill of Caribbean fare.

Adda Indian Eatery

Located on Spring Garden Road, Adda (which means hangout spot) is serving A+ Indian food like dosas and vada pav. There isn’t a single thing on their menu pricier than $13. Know your dollars are going to a resto with a heart: they’ve raised money to support Palestine and COVID-19 in India.

 

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Feature image courtesy of Backoos

Eggs pesto in carrot hash cups by Molly Yeh

Try Molly Yeh’s Healthy Twist on TikTok’s Latest Pesto and Eggs Breakfast Hack

Dubbed TikTok’s easiest breakfast hack, the pesto and eggs trend has swept the globe and has home cooks everywhere swapping in cooking oil with flavourful pesto instead. Registered dietitian Amy Wilichowski shows how to prep a breakfast toast with ricotta, smashed avocado, along with a pesto-infused sunny-side up egg, complete with salt, red pepper flakes and a little drizzle of honey.

@amywilichowski##eggs ##pestoeggs ##homecook♬ cooking video – cooking

But if you’re looking to keep that distinct fragrant pesto flavour while ditching the dough, look no further than Molly Yeh’s super easy, yet delicious carrot hash with eggs and pesto. While Molly’s breakfast recipe includes a homemade nut-free pesto, you can swap in a pre-made one as well to speed up the process. If you’re making your own, be sure to keep those leafy carrot tops to add to your pesto (not only does this minimize food waste, it adds flavour to the Genoa, Italy-originating sauce). You can also skip the skillet and bake the hash in the oven instead to make it even healthier (Molly recommends a cast-iron biscuit pan but you can use a muffin pan as well).Watch the how-to video here:

 

Molly’s recipe serves 8, so it’s also a great long weekend brunch idea that’s easy to make and share with your loved ones.

Molly Yeh's carrot hash with eggs and pesto on a plate

Carrot Hash With Eggs and Pesto

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1 bunch carrots with tops (about 1 lb)
1 large russet potato (about 12.5 oz), peeled
3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp harissa
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground sumac
5 large eggs
1 ¾ cups plus 1 tbsp olive oil
20 fresh basil leaves
⅓ cup salted sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Grate the carrots (set the tops aside — you will use them later) and potato in a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment. Transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and add the scallion whites and ½ tsp salt. Use your hands or a clean dish towel to squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Discard the liquid in the bowl, then add the carrot mixture to that bowl. Stir in the panko, raisins, harissa, brown sugar, cumin, sumac, 2 eggs, 1 ½ tsp salt and a bunch of grinds of black pepper (I did 20) until well combined.

Related: Our Most Popular Dinner Recipes in 2021 So Far (Feta Pasta Included!)

3. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat (see Cook’s Note). Drop a small amount of the carrot mixture into the skillet. When it starts to sizzle, your oil is ready. Add the rest of the carrot mixture to the skillet and press down using the back of a spatula. Let cook, untouched, until the edges of the carrots turn a very deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Create 3 small divots in the top of the carrot mixture using the bottom of a measuring cup. Brush 1 Tbsp oil on top and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the carrots are set and the top is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

4. Carefully crack the remaining 3 eggs into the divots and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 8 minutes. (Cracking the eggs into a small bowl and pouring them into the divots makes this part a little easier and less messy). Use a spatula to help slide the hash out of the skillet onto a serving platter.

Related: Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

5. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Roughly chop the carrot tops and scallion greens and add to the bowl of a food processor along with the basil, sunflower seeds, vinegar, garlic, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until everything is very finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1 ½ cups oil and ¼ cup water until smooth and drizzly. Drizzle the pesto over the top of the hash and slice into wedges. Serve with the remaining pesto on the side.

Cook’s Note:
You can also cook the hash using a 7-cavity cast-iron biscuit pan. Preheat it in the oven for 15 minutes, then carefully press the carrot mixture equally into each of the molds, making a large well in the center of each. Brush with 1 Tbsp oil on top and bake until the carrots are set on top and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Then carefully crack an egg into each divot and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 8 minutes. Serve them from the pan!

Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

You might’ve seen the honeycomb pasta hack that has gone viral on TikTok, in which Anna Rothfuss AKA @bananalovesyoutoo stuffs string cheese in rigatoni pasta, layering on sauce, ground meat and grated cheese for good measure. We daresay this popular quick meal evokes a Food Network Canada eye-catching favourite: our very own 20-minute, 10-ingredient Rigatoni Pie. While slightly more elevated in flavour (no string cheese here), this vegetarian version is equally melty and gooey and just as straight-forward to make for a quick weeknight meal — all with simple pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand.

rigatoni pie on white plate

Looking to save additional time? Instead of making your own tomato sauce, swap in four cups of store-bought marinara. For meat-lovers, you can mix things up too by adding cooked ground meat to the sauce (just note: you’ll need less of the sauce). This delicious budget-friendly comfort food will be a fan favourite at home, and the good news is the yield is high, so there will be plenty to go around.

Watch the how-to video here:


Rigatoni Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
9 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb(s) rigatoni
1 lb(s) part-skim mozzarella, grated
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil with the garlic in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it begins to sizzle, cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups water. Increase the heat to high and bring the tomato sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes then puree in a blender until smooth.

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is slightly less than al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.

3. Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared pan until it is completely filled (you might not use all the pasta). Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch drips. Pour the sauce over the noodles, spreading it with the back of a spoon (You might not use all the sauce.) Sprinkle the pasta with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

4. Cover the pan with foil, doming it slightly to avoid touching the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan, cut into wedges and serve.

How I Cooked for My Family of 4 for a Week on Less Than $100

Let’s be real — if you buy in bulk and stick to a budget, it shouldn’t be hard to feed a family of four for a week, right? Right. Except that’s without considering any of the things life throws at you. I’m talking about picky toddlers, a packed schedule and those nights where the last thing you want to do is putter around in the kitchen soaking your own beans, despite your inherent love for culinary adventures. Or is that just me? Regardless, as a working mom with a husband who travels and two toddlers that would be content eating nothing but bread and cheese for the rest of their days, I decided to purge the fridge and cupboards to start fresh for a week. The goal? Feeding the entire family three nutritious meals a day (plus snacks) without breaking the bank. Here’s how it went.

The Overall Plan

Full disclosure: I love grocery shopping. There’s something calming about walking up and down the aisles and planning what I’m going to create next. Unfortunately, when you’re cooking on a budget, that doesn’t necessarily translate. Instead, I used a grocery app to determine the best deals of the week and then created a meal plan based on what was on sale. I started with dinners, because that’s where the bulk of my budget was going (we like leftovers, y’all) and then I went to a store that price-matched. We eat meat in our house, so I wanted to include some animal protein, but we also try to include plant-based dinners at least two to three nights a week.

The other thing I had to consider was stocking up on staples. I was in good shape for things like olive oil and nutritional yeast (more on that below) but I needed some basics like flour, rice and quinoa. In the end, I thought it was going to take hours gouging my eyes out with an Excel sheet, but it was actually pretty painless. I’d say 30 minutes of planning, tops.

Cost Savings Vs. Convenience

Sometimes I’ll buy pre-washed, boxed spinach or mixed greens, because I absolutely hate running salad greens one by one under the faucet and then drying them. Not hate, loathe. I loathe it. But I’m obsessed with doing it properly, because let’s just say I’ve had plenty of experience accidentally ingesting “extra protein” in the past. For this experiment, however, I got four times as much fresh spinach and lettuce for less than a box would have cost me. So I was OK with it.

Then there are the beans. Usually I’ll buy dried beans for less and stock the pantry, but because I wanted to prep once for the entire week, I didn’t want to pressure cook beans and then have them sit there for seven days. It was a lot easier (and not that much more expensive) to buy the canned stuff, so I splurged a bit in that department.

The Grocery List

You probably want to get to the goods, right? Without further ado, here’s everything I bought to stock up the fridge and pantry.

Produce

– Broccoli, $1.27
– Cauliflower, $1.99
– Bagged carrots, $1.49
– Bagged onions, $1.49
– Grape tomatoes, $2
– Bagged beets, $1.97
– 2 bunches spinach, $4
– 2 bunches red leaf lettuce, $3
– Garlic, $1.49
– 2 cucumbers, $4
– 6 bananas, $1.63
– Bag of apples, $4
– Strawberries, $2.5
– Bagged peppers, $2.98
– Bagged mandarins, $2.97
– Celery, $3
– Frozen peas, $0.99

Meat, Dairy and Deli

– Fresh olives, $5.12
– Bagged milk, $3.97
– Brick marble cheese, $3.97
– 18 eggs, $2.99
– Ground turkey, $2
– 2 fresh, whole chickens, $13.62

Pantry and Bakery

– Brown rice, $1.27
– Pasta (my daughter picked “little shells”), $0.88
– Yeast packets, $1.97
– Peanut butter, $3.77
– Flour, $3.99
– Quinoa, $3.47
– 2 cans salt-free chickpeas, $1.58
– 2 cans salt-free black beans, $1.58
– 2 cans diced tomatoes, $1.96
– Tomato paste, $0.59

Total: $93.50

Meal Prepping

If you love devoting an entire Sunday afternoon to meal-prepping, raise your hand. What, no one? I’m shocked. While meal-prepping often feels daunting, I’ve discovered several ways to make it less painful over the years. Sometimes I’ll get my kids to help out and we make it a family affair. Other times, I consider it “me time” and I’ll put on a TV show or listen to a podcast. The bottom line is that I consider it a necessary evil if I want to save time during the week and still eat healthy, so I try to find a positive spin.

My Meal-Prepping Included:

– Hard-boiling eight eggs
– Washing and drying lots of lettuce and spinach
– Cooking a batch of quinoa
– Roasting beets (to add to salads)
– “Ricing” cauliflower in a food processor
– Peeling and cutting carrots
– Washing and cutting celery
– Making a giant vat of homemade tomato sauce
– Roasting both chickens, cooling them and removing the meat
– Making stock from chicken bones (once this was simmering, it pretty much made itself over the course of the night).

Was this work? Very much so. But it saved me so much time during the week on lunch and dinner, as you’ll see below. I should also note that I added nutritional yeast (instead of Parmesan, which I didn’t buy) to the tomato sauce for an extra hit of cheesy, vegan fibre and protein. I also threw in an entire pepper and a few handfuls of spinach, before blending it up with my immersion blender so my kids would never know. I then froze half the sauce, which means sometime in the near future, I’ll have instant tomato sauce for pasta, lazy cabbage rolls or even pizza.

The Meal Planned Menu

Breakfast: I wanted to leave breakfasts fairly neutral, since my kids and husband are perfectly content with toast and fruit or eggs. On busier mornings, we’ll whip up peanut butter banana smoothies (with spinach thrown in there), which my kids can drink in the car. I also bought English muffins so that we could make egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches on Saturday morning before we all ran out the door to dance class and I planned for our lazier, traditional Sunday morning pancake breakfast, too.



Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Lunches: I figured a combination of leftovers, salads and sandwiches would do. The kids love peanut butter and jam sandwiches or a plate of cut up veggies, cheese and fruit, while my husband and I are happy to concoct a variety of salads with different proteins in them, like beans, a scoop of quinoa or hard-boiled eggs. Because I found chicken on sale, I also factored in leftover chicken to make a multitude of dishes.

Snacks: We’re trying to get away from sugar-laden and expensive pre-bought snacks, so that’s why I stocked up on apples, mandarins, carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumber. I thought about making hummus with one of the cans of chickpeas (I have some tahini still in my cupboard), but ultimately passed because sometimes it’s so much easier to pair produce with a pre-bought healthy dip, peanut butter or even cheese. At least it is with my kids.

And that brings us to…

Dinners

Sunday: Roasted Chicken and Broccoli With Rice

Because I was already roasting the chicken, I figured it would make for a good Sunday night family dinner. I paired that with steamed broccoli in the microwave, which my kids either love or hate depending on the day. This particular night, the dog seemed to eat more of it than the kids thanks to their scheming, but that’s why I feed the dog last. I also cooked a big batch of brown rice (factoring in leftovers) and both kids devoured that.

Monday: Cauliflower Fried Rice

We’re typically out the door by 5:30PM on Monday nights to make the kids’ activities, so I needed something simple. Enter cauliflower fried rice! While the “healthy” me would prefer to just have cauliflower, that’s not possible with kids. Instead, I masked the cauliflower rice by adding in actual leftover rice from the night before. I stir-fried it with onions, garlic, egg, soy sauce and mushroom oyster sauce, which I bought about six months ago at an Asian food store for a couple of bucks. I also added frozen peas, but I wish I hadn’t, because both kids basically threw them at each other. Everything else was eaten, so I’ll take that win.

Tuesday: Pasta With Ground Turkey

This quick dinner was super simple thanks to the pre-made sauce, and I could have made it vegetarian, except I found that amazing $2 deal on ground turkey. So I cooked that up quickly on the stove as the pasta boiled and then threw it all together for a veggie-filled dinner that my kids devoured. Yes, I did a devious happy dance and maybe even high-fived my husband as we did the dishes afterwards.

Wednesday: Grainy Salad

My daughter is a weirdo like me and she loves cold beans. My son hates beans, but likes the texture of quinoa, which my daughter doesn’t. So I succumbed to motherhood hack and gave her beans on the green plate and him quinoa on the blue plate, with some cut up peppers, cucumbers, cheese cubes and tomatoes. My husband and I essentially ate an adult version of this (quinoa with roasted beets, cucumbers and peppers) mixed together and dressed with a concoction of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. It would have been even better with feta cheese, but it was still pretty hearty and satisfying. And, thanks to the pre-made quinoa, the whole thing took about 10 minutes to whip up.

Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup

Once again, my meal-prepping proved to be an amazing decision because I was able to throw chicken stock, carrots, celery, leftover chicken and leftover pasta shells into a pot, heat it up and dole it out into bowls. It was rich, low in sodium and perfect for that day’s colder weather, and there was only one bowl leftover at the end of the night. Oh and for those keeping track, my daughter ate the carrots, my son ate the chicken, they both ate the pasta and then they asked me for some cheese.

Friday: Pizza Night

Does anyone ever want to cook on a Friday night? There’s no better way to usher in the weekend than with pizza, which is why we tend to order them at least every other week. The thing is though, making homemade dough is super easy. I also happen to have pizza stones, which I find give the crust a nice crispiness. So I planned ahead to whip up the crust after work, then I used the leftover secret-veggie tomato sauce as a base and added olives as a topping, which both my kids freakishly love. There wasn’t a single slice left and I wasn’t out money on delivery.. Win, win.

Get the recipe for Roger Mooking’s Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

The best part about “cooking” all week was that I had ample food leftover for customized dinners on Saturday night. My husband wanted the soup, while the kids clamoured for pasta. Meanwhile, I was craving a lighter salad after the pizza the night before, which I was able to quickly cobble together with the remaining veggies and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

The Results

This entire experiment definitely required planning and a whole whack of prepping, but in the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The kids ended up eating fairly well, and we didn’t turn to takeout pizza or chicken nuggets once, which is a serious feat for our household.

Would I do this every week? No. But, I’m definitely going to try and keep up when I can, because on those lazier weekends where we’re not running around trying to fit everything in, getting a jump on feeding the family turns out to be an amazing time- and money-saver… with only a small number of peas and broccoli on the floor.

Looking for more meal planning inspiration? Here’s how a nutritionist meal preps every Sunday.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Amber Dowling