Sometimes, in our efforts to fight for a better food system, the push to ban GMOs and go all organic, and the pleas to save the family farm, we forget about those who are too often already forgotten. Nearly one in four American children goes hungry each day, and while they need nutritious food, they also just really need food. What’s more is that many people don’t recognize the very real existence of food deserts in America. Some people can’t even get to a grocery store, let alone their local [insertorganicgrocerystorenamehere]. For some, the corner convenience store or the dollar store is their grocery store. I was reminded of this fact this past May at a conference I attended called Food and History: from Theory to Practice at North Carolina State University. Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson at the University of Maryland College Park specifically gave a talk on the role of dollar stores in feeding those who might otherwise be located in a food desert. You can watch her presentation from the conference here: “A Dollar Today, A Meal Tomorrow…”
In response, below is a meal I created from the local dollar store. It is relatively healthy, and I thought it was pretty delicious.
What you need for Creamy Seafood Pasta with Roasted Broccoli:
1 box pasta salad mix (I used a creamy Parmesan variety – no bacon!)
1 tin of mackerel fillets packed in oil, drained
1 tin of white tuna, drained
Mayonnaise (see your particular pasta salad mix for the exact amount)
1 lb. bag of frozen broccoli
2 tbsp. sunflower oil/olive oil blend (my dollar store did not sell straight olive oil)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Blanche your broccoli to thaw it by boiling it in a pot of water for about 5 minutes and then dropping into ice water. Once the broccoli is no longer hot, drain and place on a shallow baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender and the floret is just slightly crispy (about 25 minutes). For the pasta, boil the pasta component of the salad mix according to the package directions. Next, combine the seasoning packet and mayonnaise well and then stir in both tins of fish gently. Drain and rinse the pasta once al dente and add to the bowl with the seasoning/fish mixture. Chill or serve slightly warm.
If you already had the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, this meal cost you $5. That’s $1.25 per person for a family of four – less than the cost of a school lunch. And, it’s loaded with healthy fats from the fish, mayonnaise, and oil; Vitamin C from the broccoli; and calcium from the pasta.