There’s a lot to be gained with meal planning. When done properly you eat healthier food, eliminate take-out and and save at the grocery store all at the same time. However, it can be a daunting project to start and continue if you are working from the ground up.
If you need a little push to get started with meal planning I definitely have one for you. Starting Monday (September 15th, 2014) and running until October 13, 2104, Moulinex will be hosting the Get Cooking Challenge, an opportunity for Canadians to put down the take-out menu, reduce their calorie intake and eliminate food waste. Canadians can sign up for the challenge and save more than $400 a month by using the tools provided by the challenge. Designed by a Registered Dietitian for optimal healthy eating, you will receive a free weekly grocery list and meal plan that makes grocery shopping easy and inexpensive – the quantity of ingredients is listed clearly to eliminate any wasted food. There will also be weekly opportunities for participants to win Moulinex appliances to make cooking even easier.
Born in France, Moulinex is a European household name known around the world for its high quality and innovative, yet easy-to-use products. Today, Moulinex is partnering exclusively with Canadian Tire to bring innovation and excitement to homes and families across Canada.
I was sent a Moulinex Digital Slow Cooker with a 6-quart capacity and 4 programmable cooking settings to help me prepare meals in the coming weeks with the challenge. Moulinex has an awesome looking line of Kitchen appliances, it was hard to pick just one appliance but I did need a larger Slow Cooker and the features on this one seemed pretty great.
My old slow cooker was pretty basic and very small. I had received it as a gift when I first moved out on my own and at that time having a family was not in the realms of possibility. To say it was a little bit too small to cook my family meals is an understatement.
The 6 qt size is perfect for family meals plus it automatically shifts to the “keep warm” setting once the timer is done to maintain the perfect serving temperature without over-cooking. Perfect for those with a longer commute to and from work or just for those times when you have a lot of errands to run.
I’ve already tried out one of the recipes from the Challenge just to see what they were about. I chose to try the Roasted Chicken with Roasted Veggies and Almonds but I really wanted to use my new Moulinex slow cooker so I decided to roast a chicken in the slow cooker rather than follow the directions completely.
The original recipe calls for 3 chickens as you are supposed to use chicken left overs over the week in other recipes to make the purchase a little more cost effective. I only had one chicken in my freezer so I modified the recipe slightly to work with that.
As you may know, a slow cooker cannot brown chicken skin so once the chicken was cooked I removed it from the slow cooker and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes to crisp up the skin. This is a great option for when you don’t have an hour and a half to waste on making dinner. You can prep the veggies the night before and then throw everything together in about 10 minutes and put it in the slow cooker. When you are nearly ready to eat simply put the chicken under the broiler. ta da!
I love how cost effective this recipe is, even if you follow the original recipe. You can get whole chickens for far cheaper than butchered pieces and you will likely have most of the other ingredients on hand. I only needed to go out and get a fennel bulb and asparagus as I often stock up on whole chickens when they go on sale. I recently picked up a few for $7 each!
Here is the recipe from the challenge in case you are interested:
My adapted recipe for Roasted Chicken with Roasted Veggies and Almonds
1 2-3lb Whole Chicken
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 large bunch of fresh thyme
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 medium onion, sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 fennel bulb, sliced
2 lb asparagus
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 oz almonds, chopped
Remove the chicken giblets on all three chickens. Rinse the chickens inside and out. Remove any excess fat and pat the outsides dry.
Rub the chicken with the olive oil and liberally coat the inside and ouitside of the chicken salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with thyme, lemon and garlic.
Place onion, carrots and fennel in bottom of slow cooker and place chicken on top.
Set the slow cooker to low and time for 6-8 hours.
Pre-heat your broiler.
Remove chicken from slow cooker to a parchment paper lined baking pan and place under broiler, turning as needed to get even browning. This should take about 5-10 minutes to get crispy skin.
Let chicken rest, covered with a tent of aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.
Lay trimmed asparagus in a large deep skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.
Remove the asparagus from the water, drizzle with a tbsp of EVOO, the juice from 1/2 lemon, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped almonds.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Challenge!