A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Dollar Store Challenge

Last year Will made me a meal sourced entirely from the Dollar Tree up the road. According to the rules we set, everything but salt and oil came from there. It was tasty: a traditional pasta with herby red sauce; spinach; and premade garlic bread. The most challenging thing, of course, was finding or replicating fresh foods. He actually reconstituted dried onions in water and then sauteed them.

Sunday, it was my turn.

There were some surprises at the Dollar Tree. I didn't know dollar stores had that much food. They had fish: 4-ounce filets of frozen pollock for $1 each. How could I not at least try that? I also bought a packet of pre-cooked salad shrimp.

The rest of my haul:
  • a can of refried beans 
  • a can of pickled jalapenos
  • a can of red chili/tomato sauce 
  • a jar of roasted red peppers 
  • a can of diced tomatoes 
  • a tiny tub of cream cheese 
  • pepper jack cheese 
  • mozzarella cheese 
  • a pack of tortillas 
  • a bag of frozen peas
I also had some herbs left over from Will's experiment -- oregano, red pepper flakes, etc. We decided those counted.

I ended up making creamy seafood burritos based on your old recipe for krab burritos. And they were pretty good, honestly. The fish sauteed up nicely once I'd blotted the hell out of it with paper towels. I mixed it with the shrimp, tomatoes, red peppers and cheeses. I stuffed the burritos with that, then put the chile-tomato sauce on top and baked them. I heated up the beans and boiled the peas, and we had a reasonably healthy, square meal.

It wasn't cheap, exactly. I spent $15. But it was instructive and fun. And I think we'll be going by there occasionally for pantry staples. That big can of El Pato sauce has been very useful -- we've been putting it on everything.