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Lemon Butter Cod, Asparagus and Grains

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ml's Susannah Locketti: If you think you can't enjoy ocean-fresh fish, garden veggies and healthy whole grains on a budget, then think again! This super-fast dish is ready in minutes, and the cost to feed a family of four is the same price you'd pay for a single serving at a restaurant!

Lemon Butter Cod with Asparagus & Whole Grains

Lemon Butter Cod with Asparagus & Whole Grains

Recipe courtesy Susannah Locketti

Serves 4

1 lb. fresh cod, cut into four 4 oz. pieces
4 tbsp. butter
4 to 6 thick slices of lemon
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
8.5 oz. bag Uncle Ben's Roasted Garlic Ready Whole Grain Medley
Salt and pepper

Game plan:
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Season the cod and place topside down in the hot skillet, along with the lemon slices. Meanwhile, steam the asparagus in the microwave for a few minutes until bright green and set aside. Tear the top off the whole grain medley pouch and place in the microwave. Carefully flip the fish and lemon slices using a wide spatula and cook just until done. (You'll know the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.) Microwave the ready grain pouch during the last 90 seconds of cooking the fish. Each plate should get about eight spears of asparagus, a 1/2 cup of rice and a piece of fish. Then garnish the plates with the browned lemon slices, and brush any remaining lemon butter from the pan on the asparagus and fish. Season the entire plate with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh lemon zest if you choose.

Susannah's time- and money-saving sense:
Pan-searing the cod cooks it up fast. I was able to buy the cod on sale for under $5 per pound, which is an amazing price. I spotted this deal in my store flyer. Always scan the flyers before making your list, so you can plan your weekly meals based on what's on sale. (My receipt is a tad over $10 this week, because my seafood clerk gave me slightly more than a pound of cod.) Note: Usually, seafood is pre-frozen and thawed. For this reason, I don't recommend buying extra and freezing it again. (It will compromise the texture of the fish.)

Asparagus is in season, which means it's on sale! Always shop seasonal produce for the best prices. Steaming in the microwave is a great way to cook it quickly while maximizing nutrition. This is an item you can feel free to purchase in bulk and freeze the rest for later use.

A single lemon adds fresh flavor plus a pretty garnish to this dish for under $1! Use the slices, zest and juice to make use of it all!

Ninety-second heat-and-eat whole grains are a great option when you are looking to save time but keep nutrition up. This Uncle Ben's variety has brown rice and red and black quinoa, which adds variety. It also comes in a yummy roasted garlic flavor, and the pouch is enough for four 1/2 cup servings.

I saved five cents off my total order by bringing a reusable bag as part of my grocery store's go-green incentive plan. Ask your cashier if they have a similar program for additional savings.

Cost Breakdown:

Cod -- $5.79 (on sale for $4.99 per pound)
Butter -- Free (on hand)
Lemon -- $ .67
Asparagus -- $1.59 on sale
Whole grain pouch -- $2.39
Minus 5 cents (for bringing a reusable bag)

Total Cost: $10.39

Copyright 2010 by Susannah Locketti

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