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Join Us for the $5 Challenge & win a Prize

September 16th, 2011

As you know, I’m a big advocate for good, healthy local food. I keep up to date on what’s going on in the agricultural world, as well as the local and slow food movement. When Slow Food initiated their $5 Challenge I thought it was a great idea. I’m always trying to tell people that eating local seasonal food is not more expensive and this challenge sets out to prove just that. The goal is to cook healthy meal for less than what you would spend for a meal at a fast food restaurant. They emphasize that the food should fit the Slow Food ideal “food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

THE CHALLENGE: This September 17, you’re invited to take back the ‘value meal’ by getting together with family, friends and neighbors for a slow food meal that costs no more than $5 per person. Cook a meal with family and friends, have a potluck, or find a local event.

WHY: Because slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. If you know how to cook, then teach others. If you want to learn, this is your chance. Together, we’re sending a message that too many people live in communities where it’s harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops. Everybody should be able to eat fresh, healthy food every day.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event. When you sign up, we’ll send you $5 cooking tips.” Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event.

This isn’t really a “challenge” for me. We’ve been eating local, seasonal, slow food for quite a while. We even try to eat this way when we travel and when we’re on the run.

I’ll be getting together with a few friends tomorrow night and I’m in charge of the meal. Later today, I’m off to Local Roots to see what kinds of meals I could prepare for $5 a person. Of course I could make the entire meal with ingredients from my garden and some of the venison from the freezer and it would cost me only about $2 per person. But I think I’m going to purchase the ingredients for this challenge.

I have a few meal ideas knocking around in my head, like:

    • Crispy Sticky Chicken Thighs from Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life
    • Braised Beef Sandwiches like those ones I blogged about
    • Simple Roasted Chicken with seasonal vegetables
    • Pasta Primavera featuring homemade noodles with local eggs topped with seasonal vegetables and local cheese
    • Beef Roast with roasted root vegetables
    • Homemade pizza with various toppings & local cheese
    • Beef Stew with a crusty homemade peasant loaf
    • Caramelized Onion Soup topped with crusty bread and local cheese and a side salad
    • Ratatouille from seasonal vegetables
    • Mushroom Lasagna with local mushrooms and cheese with a fresh salad

    Having a small edible garden is a great way to save some cash on your food bill and it’s the ultimate slow food. I have a collection of Botanical Interests seed packs to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment a great meal idea that would cost less than $5 per person using “food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

    So, who’s in? Any great ideas for inexpensive, delicious meals?

    Here’s a great Q&A with Josh Veirtel about the $5 Challenge and how it came about.

26 Comments to “Join Us for the $5 Challenge & win a Prize”
  1. deedee on September 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

    We eat at Skyline most Saturday nights…. so does “kids eat free night” @ Skyline count for this challenge??? LOL!!!!
    Maybe we’ll stay home and accept the challenge:)

    Reply to deedee's comment

  2. Citysister on September 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I just posted about this myself! Dinner for four locally for only $5-6 total…

    Reply to Citysister's comment

  3. Melissa on September 16, 2011 at 8:01 am

    How about a veggie frittata with good local pastured eggs? That’s one of my favorite “eat cheap” meals! Few eggs, some herbs and whatever seasonal veggies are available from the farmer’s market!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on September 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

      My go to healthy cheap meals are always eggs and vegetables, usually whatever my harvest basket contains that week.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. anotherkindofdrew on September 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I accept the challenge. Do we have to turn in a photo of our meal? I’ll try to remember just to send to y’all anyway. Provided we aren’t in the delivery room at the hospital tomorrow we are planning on a rotisserie chicken (raised and processed here….at Tiny r(E)volution) with corn ($0.35/ear from Lenoir Co. farmers market), field peas (from our garden) and sourdough bread (made from scratch – about $0.35/person). We may get sassy and break out some homebrew that I still have left from my summer batch. That would be about $0.85/bottle. So total? $4.55 per person dining (and our family will be 8 strong tomorrow night).

    Reply to anotherkindofdrew's comment

    • Susy on September 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

      I would LOVE to see a photo of your meal. I just started a Flickr $5 Challenge Group so you can just upload it to that group.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. kristin @ going country on September 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Ever since I made up that dish with a bunch of vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini) sauteed and then topped with eggs, I’ve been making that for dinner a lot. It’s pretty much free for me, since the vegetables come from my garden and the eggs from my hens, but even purchased, that would be a seriously cheap meal. Eggs are the ultimate cheap protein.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  6. BeccaOH on September 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I’m way too busy this weekend prepping for a trip to think about hosting a meal, but I so appreciate your lead on Local Roots. I didn’t know about it. I just wish it was a bit closer to me. Looks to be 60 miles or nearly an hour and half drive, but it might be worth considering for an occasional trip.

    Reply to BeccaOH's comment

    • Susy on September 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

      I love Local Roots, it’s quite a trek for me as well – about 50 miles from me (it’s about an hour away) but it’s only 20 min from my mom so I usually go by after I go to my mom’s.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. MAYBELLINE on September 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

    You bet.
    I used to take those annoying grocery store adverts from the mail and read them at lunch time. I would allow myself $40/week to feed my famiily based on what was then the allowance for food stamps. Of course, I did not need to purchase cheese, butter, nor milk. That was also distributed. I purchased with my make believe food stamps onions, potatoes, cheap cuts of meats, dried beans, flour, sugar. I would take advantage of items on sale and found that I could do it. The menus would be soups, stews, and other filling nutritious meals. Now that I grow most all of my produce, my food stamp budget would be used mostly for meats.

    I’m thankful that I don’t have to use assistance and wish those that did were shown how to stretch their money and become so much more self sufficient. You know—let’s teach them to fish.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on September 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

      I completely agree with you, my parents did the same growing up.

      Our tax dollars would be far better spent setting up community gardens, purchasing plants/seeds and paying experts to teach people how to grow their own and provide for themselves. Not only would people be eating more healthfully, they’d be empowered and be give freedom as well!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Mrs. H on September 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm

        So true.
        Those people living off *our* hard-earned money should be *required* to grow at least some of their own food. It would have to be a requirement because so many people, after receiving handouts for a period of time would usually have no desire of their own to grow food.

        to Mrs. H's comment

      • MAYBELLINE on September 17, 2011 at 12:33 am

        Amen. But what is their incentive to change?

        to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on September 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

      There is no incentive to change, that’s how the gov’t wants it, people enslaved to the system will be less likely to want change in the government.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. SixBalloons on September 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I’m going back to my Chinese Grandmother’s roots with an elegant and tasty comfort food dish: Whole duck roasted while nestled on a bed of mushrooms, carrots, celery and taro root! Pan seared first, of course, then roasted in my thrifted Le Creuset rectangular baker.

    Yum… Perfect with a side of rice, and frugal too. Bring on the cold weather!

    Reply to SixBalloons's comment

    • Susy on September 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

      YUM, that sounds great. I keep hoping to spot a whole duck at the farmer’s market, haven’t yet. When I do I’ll be making this for sure!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • SixBalloons on September 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

        My favorite supermarket sells locally farmed, frozen ducks at $2 a pound. The best thing about the dish is that everyone eats up all the tasty vegetables. I usually make it the night before, so I can refrigerate it and skim off the fat before re-heating in the oven and crisping the duck skin.

        This discussion is making me hungry!

        to SixBalloons's comment

  9. SixBalloons on September 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Woops, forgot, onions and garlic too of course!

    Reply to SixBalloons's comment

  10. Bumble Lush on September 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Tomorrow my little neighborhood is having a block party/potluck. There are only about 30 of us, and the people organizing it are providing the usual burgers/hot dog food, but we were each asked to bring a side or dessert. I’m bringing guacamole, and I’ll be making it with some ingredients from my garden–onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos. We’re also bringing some grown-from-seed cherry peppers for the grill. Not sure if it’ll total <$5/person, but as the only gardener in my neighborhood, I'm excited to at least share a little bit of my home-grown food with neighbors.

    Reply to Bumble Lush's comment

  11. Sarah Jane on September 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Maybe homemade tortillas, salsa from the garden’s tomatoes and beans cooked from scratch. Mint tea, gotta use all the spearmint that’s trying to take over my very tiny veggie plot for something.

    Reply to Sarah Jane's comment

  12. Mrs. H on September 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    My recent “invention”:
    home-grown okra pan-fried in bacon drippings (the bacon from locally-raised pigs), served with homemade biscuits made with flour produced locally.

    I really have been eating okra from my garden. The bacon and wheat? I wish they were locally produced.

    Reply to Mrs. H's comment

    • Susy on September 17, 2011 at 8:34 am

      Sounds good, I have yet to try okra – must get some as I just noticed some at the market.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Annie on September 17, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I think our favorite cheap meal is bean tacos. We make the beans and tortillas from scratch (so that costs next to nothing), add in a little cheese, yogurt, and seasonal vegetables. We eat this all the time. Our particular favorite vegetable fillings are roasted broccoli and garlic and shredded cabbage with lime and cilantro.

    Reply to Annie's comment

    • Susy on September 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

      I LOVE homemade tortillas, must make some soon. You are right, cooking from scratch is very inexpensive and you get the satisfaction of making something yourself!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Jenny on September 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Hmmm, for an Alaskan it would have to be locally caught wild salmon, roasted root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, fennel, parsnips), and either broccoli or caulifower from the garden.

    Reply to Jenny's comment

  15. marion yoder on September 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

    for our family of 6, our little people love homemade chicken nuggets (about $10 for the chicken), oven fries (about $4 for the taters), and steamed cabbage (about $2) with homemade ketchup. We grow all of that ourselves, so it’s cheaper yet, but that’s about what we sell
    it for :-) check out our website (we sell at Local Roots too!) or our page on facebook (The Shepherd’s Market) for more of what we do :-)

    Reply to marion yoder's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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