Fancy Gourmet Meal
- Appetizer: Sautéed asparagus spears with shallots
- Entrée: Panko encrusted halibut with pesto
- Side dish: Portobello mushroom risotto
- Dessert: Chocolate pot de crème
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 sautéed, 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 entrée its gourmet touch—and panko breadcrumbs typically only costs a couple bucks for a can.
Budget Makeover Meal
- Appetizer: Roasted green beans with onions
- Entrée: Panko-encrusted tilapia or catfish with cilantro mayo
- Side dish: Brown rice pilaf with sautéed 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° 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°, 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.