Fancy Gourmet Meal
- Appetizer: Sauteed asparagus spears with shallots
- Entree: Panko encrusted halibut with pesto
- Side dish: Portobello mushroom risotto
- Dessert: Chocolate pot de creme
Approximate total cost (depending on regional prices): $50
You can get the same delicious tastes and textures of the above menu for less than half the price with a few creative substitutions.
Gourmet Budget Secret #1: Know What You Can Sub
When you can't face the cost of halibut, other white fish such as tilapia and catfish have a similar mild taste and firm texture. And why shell out the extra bucks on shallots? Once they're sliced and sauteed, only a gourmand could distinguish them from inexpensive yellow onions.
Gourmet Budget Secret #2: Know What You Can't Sub
It's the little things that make a difference. So swap out one fish for another, but don't lose the panko crust. That delightfully crunchy coating gives this entree its gourmet touch-and panko breadcrumbs typically only costs a couple bucks for a can.
Budget Makeover Meal
- Appetizer: Roasted green beans with onions
- Entree: Panko-encrusted tilapia or catfish with cilantro mayo
- Side dish: Brown rice pilaf with sauteed crimini mushrooms
- Dessert: Chocolate pudding
Approximate total cost (depending on regional prices): $22
Trim 1 lb green beans and toss in bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 chopped yellow onion. Spread over baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, turning occasionally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Set out three dishes. In dish one, place 1 cup flour. In dish two, lightly beat three eggs. In dish three, place 1 cup panko. Coat fish in flour, then eggs, then panko, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees , turning the fish after 10 minutes.
To make cilantro mayo
Stir 1 cup mayo, 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp grated lime rind, and salt and pepper to taste.
Sautee 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms with 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat until liquid evaporates. Add 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth. Stir mushroom-broth mixture into 1 1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice.
Follow directions on box.