What holiday meal can you make with a London Food Bank hamper?

Using ingredients found in a London Food Bank hamper designed for a family of four, we asked Jill Wilcox to make a holiday meal.

We asked food expert Jill Wilcox to use the ingredients in a food bank hamper to make a holiday meal

A Caesar tuna pasta salad made by Jill Wilcox of Jill's Table, using ingredients in a typical London Food Bank hamper for a family of four. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

The London Food Bank gives out more than 2 million pounds — or over 90,000 kg — of food each year. 

As part of our Sounds of the Season's campaign for the food bank, we asked food expert Jill Wilcox to prepare a holiday meal with the ingredients found in a typical food hamper given out to a family of four. 

The hampers include a mixture of perishable and non-perishable food items, from canned vegetables, condiments and pasta to vegetables, milk and eggs.

Wilcox made a meat pie with squash and potato topping, a Caesar tuna pasta salad, chili and apple and bread pudding for desert.  

Here are the recipes:

Caesar Tuna Pasta Salad
(Serves 8)
3 cups of uncooked short pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
¾ c. bottled Caesar salad dressing
1 can of water packed tuna drained
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add a teaspoonful of salt.
2. Add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli and continue to cook until the pasta is cooked.
3. Drain in a colander. Rinse with cold running water.  Drain well and transfer to a medium bowl.
4. Add the dressing and tuna.  Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. When ready to serve, top with cherry tomatoes.

Meat pie with squash and potato topping 
(Serves 8)

4 cups (1 L) of peeled and cubed butternut squash

2 cups (500 ml) of peeled and cubed potatoes

1 tbsp. (15 ml) vegetable oil

1 cooking onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot peeled and finely diced

2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 lb. (500 g) lean ground beef

4 Italian sausages, casings removed

2 tbsp. (25 ml) flour

3 tbsp. (45 ml) tomato paste or ketchup

1/2 c. (125 ml) milk

1-1/2 c. (375 ml) grated cheddar cheese

1. Place squash and potato in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender. (About 15 -20 minutes) Drain and return to pot. Cover. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the carrot and poultry seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the beef and sausage meat. Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until no longer pink.

4. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Preheat oven to 400F. (200C)

6. Add the milk and half of the cheese to the squash/potato mixture and mash until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

7. Spoon the meat mixture into a greased 8 x 13 ovenproof baking dish.

8. Spread the squash/potato mixture over top. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.

9. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling around the edges.

10. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Easy  Chili
(Serves 6-8)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter or margarine
1 cooking onion, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2  tbsp. chili powder
1 can of chickpeas drained
1 can of baked beans
1 can of spaghetti sauce
1 small can of corn, drained
1 can of carrots, drained
½ c. white rice
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft.  Add green pepper if using. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the pepper starts to soften (about 3 minutes)

2. Add the chili powder, chickpeas, baked beans, spaghetti sauce, corn, carrots and rice.   Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked.

3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and serve.
*Option: for a spicier version, serve with a few drops of your favourite hot sauce

A chili made with food from a typical London Food Bank hamper by Jill Wilcox. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

Apple Bread Pudding

(Serves 6)

4 cups of slightly stale, cubed whole wheat bread

¼ c. raisins (optional)

2 cups of peeled and thinly sliced apples

½ c. brown sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

1-3/4 c. milk

3 eggs

1. Lightly butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Preheat oven to 350F. 

2. Place half of the bread cubes in the pie plate.

3. Combine the apples, half of the brown sugar, (raisins if using) and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Toss well.

4. Arrange apples on top of  bread in pie dish. Top with remaining bread cubes.

5. In the medium bowl, combine the milk, remaining sugar and eggs. Whisk to combine. Pour evenly over the bread mixture. Let sit for a few minutes, letting the bread soak up the milk/egg mixture.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until puffed and golden.

7. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream

Jill Wilcox of Jill's Table presents the meal she made with food from a London Food Bank hamper. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

What was in the hamper for 4

Cereal I large box
Soup 4-5 cans
Veg. 5 cans assorted
Veg 1- legume... Beans, chick peas
Fruit 2
Brown beans 2
Meat 3
Pasta 2 large
Spaghetti Sauce 2
Juice 1 large or 1 pkg ind size (min 6)
Rice 1 large or 2 small
Peanut Butter 1 (not if allergies...pick other spread)
Side Dish 2 large
Condiment 1
Cookies 1 box
Crackers 1 box

Milk 2 bags
eggs dozen
bread 4 pkgs (buns, bread etc)
Veg squash
potato - 10 lb
carrots- 2.5 lb
Other fresh food (grapes, lettuce, cucumbers, etc. Available about half the time)
Meat right now is frozen meat ... 2 lb frozen hamburger. Meat available 1/4 of the time

Can request baby food, pablum, formula, diapers as needed.
Right now the Food Bank has taco kits so everyone is getting those.