Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatless Monday: 5 Tips for Meeting Slow Food’s $5 Meal Challenge

Slow Food USA’s $5 Meal Challenge is this coming Saturday — September 17!
For those of you who haven’t heard (or may have forgotten), Slow Food USA is inviting people across the country to share — this Saturday —a healthy, affordable meal, at a cost of less than $5 a person.

Are you ready to meet the challenge? Here are 5 tips to help you on your way.
  • Think beans or other legumes, and plan ahead so you can skip the canned version. Food critic and cookbook author Mark Bittman urges all cooks to do so.  Among his talking points for cooking dried beans vs. using canned ones are economy, variety, taste, and the fact that leftovers can easily be frozen for future use. All you need is time, so keep this in mind when mapping out your cooking strategy. Here is a link to my Split Pea Soup which appeared on the Meatless Monday site on April 12, 2010. 
  • Eggs (off-limits to vegans, and the whites of which are allergens to some) are another inexpensive source of protein. Just make sure your guests are on-board before choosing to use them. The Incredible Egg site has scads of recipes You might want to verify that the eggs you choose are “Certified Humane.” 

  • Use seasonal ingredients. For example: A fresh peach pie prepared while peaches are in season can be a “can-do” for this challenge, particularly if you make your own crust. One made with oil is the least expensive way to go. I bought a bushel of peaches for $18.95 last week, about 50¢ a peach. If I’d picked my own, they would have been even cheaper. $5.00 should just about cover the cost of your pie. Check out two of my favorite cookbooks for more ideas: Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert and The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters. The recipes in each volume are clear, relatively easy, and foolproof (in my experience anyway).
  • Make a meal from what you have on hand. Use Google with Recipe View to help you find the perfect recipe. With this tool you can search for a specific recipe or main ingredient and then narrow your options by selecting the ingredients you do or do not wish to include, as well as the time available and any caloric restrictions.
  • If you are cooking with friends, consider Stone Soup. Just be sure to start VERY EARLY, and you might want to omit the stones.
For more details about the day and the campaign, click hereYou can pledge to take the challenge here

Good luck, and have fun. “See” you next Monday if not before.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

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