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Cook once, eat twice: Julie Findlay's tips to save energy and money


Sometimes the best comfort food is also the most affordable.

Being full of beans - or in this case, lentils --doesn’t have to cost much.

In a recent blog, food specialist Korey Kealey shared tips on how to stretch those grocery dollars. 

A $0.99 can of chick peas, flavoured up and pureed is more affordable than a container of store bought hummus.

Julie Findlay shares a favourite family recipe highlighting protein-filled legumes.  It is a Foodland Ontario nourishing classic and she suggests making double.

She calls it cooking once, eating twice.

"Choose a recipe that stretches," suggests Findlay.

On CTV Ottawa’s News at Noon Friday, Findlay showed how to make the Lentil soup and Ravioli Lasagna—both great meals for après ski, skate or snowshoe.

And she calls these dishes low in cost and high in flavour.

Vegetable Lentil Soup

  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 10


  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) each unsalted butter and olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) diced Ontario Onions
  • 2 cups (500 mL) diced Ontario Carrots
  • 2 cups (500 mL) cubed 1-inch (2.5 cm) Ontario Celeriac (Celery Root)
  • 2 cloves Ontario Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh Ontario Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) each dried oregano leaves, salt and pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can (540 mL) diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 8 cups (2 L) vegetable or beef broth


In large pot, over medium-high heat, add butter, oil, onions, carrots, celeriac and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, tomatoes and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups (500 mL) water, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Pour 1/3 of soup into blender or use hand blender to purée until smooth. Return to pot; stir until combined. Ladle into bowls.

Tip: As lentils absorb liquid; the soup becomes thicker after sitting in the fridge. Add water, 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, to thin soup.

Nutritional information

  • 1 serving
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 35 grams
  • Calories: 240
  • Fibre: 6 grams  
  • Sodium: 920 mg

"I love making a batch of homemade sauce that turns into many different meals.  Using local ground Beef, chicken or turkey. You can just take that sauce and freeze it and to make Chili, Spaghetti, Sloppy Joes or delicious Ravioli Lasagna!"

Findlay says these are her "Budget friendly Pantry essentials" - work for many recipes!

  • Lentils, beans, legumes, rice
  • Spices
  • Broth
  • Garlic
  • Carrots, potatoes, onions
  • Canned tomatos- ("Did you know that you can buy local tomatoes in a can? Just look for the *Foodland Ontario logo.") 
  • Proteins on sale
  • Always be in the know of what’s in season - affordable and supporting local!

"This makes enough for your family, friends and neighbours! Ten Cups of liquid and lentils are a great source of protein!" says Findlay.

Ravioli Lasagna

  • Baking Time: 40 minutes
  • Preparation Time: 8 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  • Serves: 30


  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped Ontario Onion
  • 750 g lean Ontario Ground Beef
  • 1 can (680 mL) garlic and herb pasta sauce
  • 1 can (540 mL) petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 pkgs (225 g each) fresh ricotta and spinach ravioli
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded Ontario Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) minced fresh Ontario Parsley


In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; reduce heat to low, cover; cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in beef; cook, stirring occasionally breaking beef apart, until browned. Stir in pasta sauce and tomatoes. Cover; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spread 2 cups (500 mL) of the sauce in the bottom of 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Arrange one-third of the ravioli, in rows, in single layer over sauce, slightly overlapping edges. Top with 2 cups (500 mL) of the sauce, ensuring to cover pasta edges. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup (150 mL) of the cheese. Repeat with another 2 layers. Cover with foil sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tip: Can be made ahead, covered, and refrigerated for up to one day. Add 15 minutes to the baking time.

To save you more money you may need to spend a bit more time in the kitchen.

Julie Findlay and I enjoy these tips from our creative culinary pal, Korey Kealey, recently highlighted on CTV Morning Live.  

Convenience vs Money in your pocket!

Whether you are looking to save money to buy a house, take that trip you have always dreamed of, or just trying to make ends meet; putting a little time in the kitchen will help tuck away a few dollars at every meal. Kealey shares three simple ideas from her segment on CTV Ottawa Morning Live.

1. Stale Bread = Chips or Crostini

Don’t toss the stale bread rather freeze it until you are ready to snack or use as an appetizer.
Cut stale pita or bread into desired shapes and spread out evenly on baking sheet. Brush with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper then bake at 325F until golden and crispy! Pita will take 5 minutes and a more dense bread 8-10 minutes!

2.  Use your Tools

Instant Pot for when you are under pressure.

Did you know that you can toss a frozen solid whole chicken into the Instant Pot with 1 cup of water and have tender chicken with 3 cups of drippings (or more) in 45 minutes?

Advance prep: add carrot, onion and celery to the freezer bag for savoury broth and chicken.

3. Dust off the Food Processor

Store-bought shredded cheese is convenient and we pay for that convenience.
Buy blocks of cheddar on sale. Using the grater attachment to your food processor that block is shredded in 30 seconds and money in your pocket! A little elbow grease and a box grater work too!

Change to the blade attachment and make your own hummus! Did you know a can of chickpeas is as little as $.99 and makes 500 mL of delicious hummus? Store bought ranges from $3.99-$5.99 for much less volume!

For more recipes and other money saving tips, visit Top Stories

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