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Ease-up on the stress of a busy workweek and stock your freezer with these nutritious meals that will save you time and money. All you have to do is spend a few hours prepping meals on the weekend and you’ll have easy meals to dish-up all week.

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Guest Author: Monda Rosenberg

Ground chicken is a healthy start for any meal since one serving (100 grams, or about 3 ounces) meets one’s protein needs for a nutritious meal – plus it’s lower in calories and fat than many meat sources.

For a detailed explanation of how chicken stacks up against other proteins, go to the Health section of chicken.ca, click on Nutritional Comparison and, with a few more clicks, you’ll see how well it stacks up against other popular choices.

When your dinner hour is time crunched, as is the case for many of us, ground chicken is a smart choice. A 400 gram package can be cooked in about 10 minutes. And don’t forget, it works beautifully in place of the ground meat that you may have traditionally used as the base for top-rated family favourites including tacos, chili, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and enchiladas.

Since ground chicken is both tender and shy on fat, it should be treated kindly. Instead of beginning by browning over high heat —as is often called for with ground meat—start with heating the chicken in a little oil over medium-low. Work chicken with a fork to keep it crumbly. Once the pink hue has disappeared, you can cover, lower the heat and simmer the chicken in its own juices, or add a sauce such as a flavour-bursting curry, tomato or salsa — and let it simmer away.

BURGERS 101

There is nothing complicated about making burgers with ground chicken. You don’t have to add anything beyond the seasonings you usually put in your burgers. (Check below for more spicing ideas.) But to ensure they are moist, since ground chicken has less fat than lean ground beef, tear up a slice of bread and soak it in a whisked egg (a dollop or two of yogurt or sour cream also helps). Let this sit 15 minutes so the bread soaks up the liquid. Then work it into the ground chicken. This goes a long way for keeping them together, as well as moist and juicy. Another trick: Add shreds or crumbles of cheese or grated butter to the chicken, then form into patties (wet hands make it easier). While soft, they’re easy to slip into a pan. Lightly brown over medium, about 2 minutes a side. Then cover, lower the heat and cook about 4 minutes a side.

Seasonings to choose from: tarragon, poultry seasoning, curry powder, cumin, smoked paprika

If you want to turn up the heat try: dried chili flakes, cayenne, ancho chili powder, Montreal chicken spice, finely-chopped jalapenos, jerk seasoning, Cajun seasoning, mashed-up chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Sriracha sauce or dashes of other hot sauce.

Lively Add-ins: crumbles of feta, chèvre or blue cheese; shredded Asiago or cheddar; finely-chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes, crumbed crisp bacon, dashes of teriyaki or tamari sauce.

Sauté In: garlic butter, sesame oil, flavoured olive oil.

For further inspiration - check out our Havarti & Fresh Dill  and Spinach Feta burger variations.

MEATBALL MAGIC

Now let’s roll on to meatballs, they’re just as easy to make (especially when you use wet hands to shape) and you can sauté and simmer in a sauce or bake them. The easiest route: Form them into balls and, as each is shaped, toss into a simmering pasta sauce. They’re ready about 10 minutes later, without a lot of pot watching. Or bake at 375°F (190°C) about 15 minutes and they won’t even need to be turned. Check out Korean Meatballs in Barbeque Sauce for an Asian dinner and Mini Mexican Meatballs for a comforting, casual appetizer.  

PARTY TIME

Never underestimate the potential of ground chicken for entertaining. You can feed a crowd at a fraction of the price of a big roast. Learn More

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Face it, you ate more than your fair share of chocolates, cookies and other fattening goodies over the holidays and it’s now time to shed those unwanted pounds! Can you stick to your resolution to get fit and healthy this year?

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Guest Author: Monda Rosenberg

Chicken is always a healthy buy—and with a little savvy, you can also make it an outstanding budget-friendly purchase.

We all know to check grocery chain sales on chicken. It’s not unusual, for example, to see whole chickens on sale at half-price. That’s a whopping savings that can easily mount up to $6 per bird. And no matter which cut you use the most—juicy thighs, plump breasts, etc.—you can always find them on sale at one supermarket or another.

WEEKLY SPECIALS & COUPONS

Most supermarket chains produce weekly flyers filled with “specials.” In an ideal world, one would sit down with all of them and circle the best prices for often-used items such as milk and chicken thighs. Sounds good—but many of us don’t have a bag of flyers dropped at our doorstep. So, if you have the time to go through this exercise online, several sites such as www.flyers-on-line.com/category/grocery-store give access to many supermarket flyers for the current week. Remember, these prices usually last from Friday to Thursday. And do keep in mind that if you have to drive 20 kilometres to get to a store, the savings on a bag of potatoes may be gobbled up in gas. If you don’t have the time or patience to do this beforehand, simply pick up a flyer as you walk into the supermarket, (they’re usually in a holder sitting at the door or at the customer service desk).

Yet another reason to become a flyer hound: Some stores do Ad Matches and will match the best-advertised prices at other chains within their area. Stores doing this advertise it on their flyer. Be sure to check all the details on the flyer (including their expiry date), and bring in the ads from the other store when you go shopping. Getting all your shopping done in one store with ad matching saves you from travelling all over town, buying all the sale items that you have identified from each retailer.

Some flyers include coupons for the store and for specific items. Clip these out and tuck them into your purse. Savings can be substantial: One recent coupon gave $3 off for every $10 spent at the store.

There are many coupon sites to investigate as well, including couponsforcanada.com. With all coupons, you need to check that they’re valid for Canada, their expiry date and which stores will redeem them. On one site, I recently printed out coupons for chicken coating, grated cheese and peanut butter for a total savings of $5. In addition, if you sign up with some sites, they’ll send you coupons daily. It’s also worthwhile visiting the websites of large food companies producing items you frequently buy. Their home page often has a menu running across the top to view coupons or to sign up for a rewards program.  

BEST POULTRY BUYS

Be realistic. If your family only eats white meat, a bargain on chicken legs isn’t for you, unless you know you can get away with using dark meat in soups, tacos and casseroles, etc. Learn more

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