Another Frugal Feast: more good friends & good food for $5 a head!

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I wrote last month about how my friends and I decided to take up Slow Food USA’s $5 Dinner Challenge. Once a month, we’d gather for a home-cooked dinner that was well-balanced, including a protein, dark leafy green and a whole grain, low on the food chain, and made from organic, local ingredients.

The challenge?  Our host could not exceed $5 per person in making the meal.

The inspiration?  An opportunity to come together around a simple principle: that “slow food”—or simply real food, as I like to think of it— is good for its eaters, its producers and the environment, and is not only a better alternative to fast food, but also a less expensive one.

This month it was my turn to shop, cook and host the feast—and a feast it was!

Buying local and seasonal food during a New York winter is tough. My favorite farmers market goes from overflowing with vibrant greens and fresh fruits and veggies of every shade of the rainbow to a more modest set of vendors selling mostly root vegetables and piles of every kind of apple and pear variety. 


But those same root veggies make for some of the most nutritious and comforting winter foods, so I quickly found my stride.

With a whopping total of 13 feasters, I had a $65 dollar budget.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Creamy potato leek soup, with fresh rosemary (the most local ingredient of all: from my neighbor's balcony garden!)
  • Cumin and vinegar black beans
  • Yellow, orange, and purple carrots roasted simply with olive oil and sea salt
  • Garlic collard greens
  • Barley
  • Bosc pears with oatmeal crumble for dessert


Cooking for that many people was definitely a challenge—so much so that we’ve since instituted an attendance cap of 10 guests!—but it’s also a wonderful experience to bring together so many good friends around so much good food at this special time of year.


So Happy Holidays and here’s to many more delicious, nutritious, and sustainable feasts to come!