Food for Thought Blog

Homemade is Where the Heart Is: Getting Back to Basics in the Kitchen

January 22nd, 2022Food

By: Wendi Campbell, CEO, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

I grew up in a time when baking muffins was a lesson in home economics class. Going into town to grab takeout or pick up a pizza was an adventure. The majority of meals in my household were made at home, and I was always welcome in the kitchen. My mom, Barbara, taught me how to cook. She encouraged me to create and experiment; sometimes with recipes, sometimes without.

Today, the way we shop for food, cook, and dine, look very different. Hectic schedules, ready-to-serve options at grocery stores, rising food costs and a greater need for food literacy education leads me to believe we are headed for some challenging times.

I worry about the impact on those in our community without stable or adequate incomes to buy groceries. I worry about new Canadian families who see low-cost items on sale, but are unfamiliar with brands and products and unsure how to adapt their cooking skills. I worry about young adults who do not know how to prepare food.

Preparing healthy meals at home is one simple way to get back to basics. Homemade meals save calories, allow more time for socializing with family members, and make us aware of what we are putting on our plates and into our bodies. Cooking meals from scratch also saves us money.

One of my mom’s favourite budget-friendly recipes involved stretching a chicken for five days. So I decided to give it a try. I bought chicken legs with backs attached at the grocery store for $1.49 per pound, reduced 50% for quick sale. I made enough bone broth and chicken soup to feed four adults lunch for two days, adding carrots, potatoes, half an onion, a bay leaf, celery, salt and pepper.

The soup came to only $2.56 and it’s easy to make!

Barbara’s Chicken Stock Recipe
  • Whole chicken or legs, thighs, backs, wings or any combination on sale (remove most of the skin)
  • ½ onion
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 1 or 3 celery stalks
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Place the chicken in a pot and cover with water
  • Slice and dice the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic
  • Add the ½ onion, carrots, celery, garlic
  • Bring to boil, simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Drain, reserve stock and chicken

When stock is made, pick off all the chicken pieces to make:

  • Hot chicken sandwiches
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Chicken salad
  • Creamed chicken on toast (add a can of cream soup: chicken, potato, cheddar or broccoli)
  • And of course, soup! (put the chicken pieces back into the stock; add vegetables and spices of your choice)

Beef stock is also simple to make. Buy any beef on sale with a bone or buy a bag of soup bones. Add any scraps of meat that are fatty and follow the same instructions for cooking chicken stock.

An eye of round roast will make a great pot roast with vegetables.  Leftovers will make tacos or beef stroganoff with noodles, chili (by adding ground beef and beans), and soup. 

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