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Food prices have soared in recent months, and they’re expected to rise another 5% to 7% in 2023—ouch. Canadians are looking for ways to eat well within tighter budgets. You can help by sharing healthy, cost-conscious meal ideas with your clients, starting with the tasty baked potato.  

Delicious, affordable and nutritious potatoes 

Why potatoes? These humble vegetables are inexpensive, plentiful and easy to prepare, plus they’re packed with nutrients: 45% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin C, 10% of the DV of vitamin B6, 18% of the DV of potassium, plus fibre, antioxidants, and trace amounts of several essential minerals.  

Plus, with baked potatoes, you can make enough food for one or for a crowd. Cooked baked potatoes will last for 3–5 days in the fridge in an airtight container, so you can make them in advance and reheat for a quick lunch or dinner. 

Create a baked potato bar 

A baked potato bar makes for a fun and flexible meal. Everyone can top their potato as they like, and you can use ingredients you have on hand, plus whatever’s on sale or in season. This is such an easy meal, it just might become a weeknight favourite.  

1. Pick the potatoes.  

Starchy potatoes such as Russets make the fluffiest baked potatoes. Yukon Golds (or yellow) potatoes are all-purpose and a great option for baking. They’re dense with a creamy texture, so you can use less butter for lighter dishes. White and red potatoes also work well. 

TIP: Prince Edward Island is world renowned for high-quality potatoes thanks to its iron rich soil. They have perfected their craft, growing them for over 200 years. 

2. Bake the potatoes. 

The fastest way to “bake” a potato is to microwave it. Here’s how:  

  • Scrub potatoes clean with a vegetable brush under running water and pat them dry.  
  • Slice off any blemishes (but leave the eyes).  
  • Prick the skin all over with a fork. This allows steam to escape.  
  • Place the potato on a microwave-safe plate and cook on full power for 3 or 4 minutes. Use tongs to flip the potato over and heat for another 3 minutes. When you can easily slice through the potato with a knife, it’s done. If needed, heat for 1 more minute at a time.  

TIP: If you love crispy potato skin, brush the cooked potato skin with vegetable oil and bake at 400F (200C) until crispy, about 50-60 minutes, until cooked through.  

3. Choose your toppings. 

What to include in your baked potato bar? Include a mix of proteins, veggies and fats. 

  • Proteins: Ground beef, chicken or turkey; pulled pork; shredded chicken, beef or bean chili; curry; steak, roast or barbecued meats; chickpeas; dahl; curry lentils; eggs (fried, scrambled, etc.) 
  • Veggies: Salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, onions (white, green, red), chives, steamed broccoli, corn kernels, olives, roasted red peppers, grated carrot, jalapenos, roasted garlic, avocado or guacamole  
  • Dairy and fats: Sour cream, Greek yogurt, olive oil, melted butter, shredded cheese 
  • Sauces and spreads: Barbecue sauce, marinara sauce, cheese sauce, tzatziki sauce, hummus, ranch dressing 
  • Herbs and spices: Chili powder, dried oregano, dried parsley, chopped cilantro 

TIP: Curb food waste by using any leftovers in your fridge. 

More ideas for baked potato toppings 

Leftover chili with diced avocado and cilantro is an easy go-to baked potato topper, but here are some other option to try:  

Taco ingredients like salsa, pulled pork and guacamole are a great match for baked potatoes. Try this recipe for your next gathering or game night.  

This recipe takes a cue from Indian cuisine, using fragrant spices including cumin, mustard seed, and turmeric for a delicious twist.    

This recipe rearranges your dinner plate to put the ground beef and broccoli on top of the potato—it’s so tasty, you might never eat them side by side again!  


Carol Harrison is a registered dietician who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. For more recipes, healthy hacks or article suggestions, connect with Carol on Instagram and Twitter @CarolHarrison.RD