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“Fast Slow Food” for Under $21

Posted on: February 10th, 2011 by Anne Fishel, Ph.D

“Fast Slow Food” February Meal (for four)

This post is part of The Family Dinner Project Fast Food Challenge series. Over the next few weeks, members of our project team will share recipes for fast homemade meals that can be prepared for less than $21, which is the cost of a typical fast food meal for a family of four. We hope you’ll join in, too! To submit a recipe for the Fast Food Challenge, email ashley@thefamilydinnerproject.org.

BluefishBlue fish, though not a pretty fish, is harvested in New England in the dead of winter, and is relatively inexpensive at about $9 for a pound a half.  Mix together about a 1/3-cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbs. of mustard, a minced garlic clove and 1 Tb. of roasted fennel seeds (just heat them in a dry pan on the stove top for about 2 minutes until they start to release an aroma). Rinse and dry the bluefish. Place it skin down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Then spread this mixture on the flesh side of the fish. Place under the broiler for about 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is flakey.

Meanwhile, cut into even sized chunks a combination to your liking of produce available in February: potatoes, carrots, apples, onions, or winter squash. Toss the veggies in oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

MeringueMy favorite dessert to bake, and one that takes less time than it would to hop in the car and drive to the store, are meringues.  Line a baking sheet with computer or parchment paper. Whip two egg whites, 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar, 1/8 tsp. of salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla. When soft peaks form, slowly add ¾ cup sugar and beat until you get a stiff concoction. (If the weather is humid, or if your mixing bowl has any residue in it, the mixture won’t whip into peaks). Then, you can toast some chopped nuts (about ½ cup) in a dry pan. I like pecans and walnuts. Mix these in, along with 6-8 oz of chocolate chips. Scoop the batter with a tablespoon and place on the baking sheet. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 25 minutes until a little golden. If you can’t wait, it is fine to eat them in this soft and marshmallowy state. I prefer to turn off the oven and leave them in there for another hour, when they will be crunchy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside.

Here’s the budget for the dinner:

Bluefish= $6.00/1b and I used 1 ½ lb or $9.00

Fish Coating:

Mayonnaise= 5 Tb or about  $.90

Mustard=1 Tbs or about  $.25

1 garlic clove= $.05

Fennel Seeds=1Tbs.  or about $.50

Roasted veggies:

1 onion= $.25

2 carrots= $.60

1 potato= $.25

2 apples= $1.60


2 eggs= $.60

¾ cup sugar= $.25

½ walnuts=  $.90

6-8 oz. chocolate chips= $2.00

Total Cost of dinner: $17.15

If you missed the “Fast Slow Food” post on Anne Fishel’s Food for Thought blog, read it here.