Last week was Slow Food USA's $5 Challenge. The goal: to make food for everyone at the table for less than the cost of fast food. I have a little experience with cooking on a budget, so I took up the challenge—not to see if it could be done. I know it can be done. But to show that it can be done with local and sustainable ingredients. Everything came from sources within 100 miles of my home and was about as close to organic as you can get. No special trips for ingredients—I just used what was already in the house.
Here's what I made: grilled marinated flank steak and barley salad with grilled vegetables, shiitakes, and goat cheese. The tally? Less than $4 per person. And that's not counting leftovers. I have it on good authority that you can't even get a McDonald's "value meal" for that price, much less a McFlankSteak. The thing is, I feel like most of us who cook real food at home do this everyday, often for far less money than that. I bet if you (yes, you!) did a calculation around what you made for dinner this Monday night, one serving would come in at less than the cost of a McDonald's meal. Probably a lot less. And better, too. Go you!
Steak: Chestnut Farms, Hardwick, MA
Red peppers, zucchini, onions: Waltham Fields Community Farm, Waltham, MA
Barley: Moraine Farm, Hamilton, MA
Goat cheese: Westfield Farm, Hubbardston, MA
Shiitake mushrooms, herbs: My backyard