The Original Five Dollar Feast

As some readers may already be aware, Five Dollar Feasts was originally envisioned as a cooking show. To that end, Jodie and I produced two pilot episodes. However, while I am still proud of those episodes, we’ve decided that we need to take all the lessons we’ve learned over the last two years and re-shoot the show.  Make it better, cheaper, stronger, faster.

However, I would be remiss in not sharing with you the first meal we created.

How does Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip topped with Roasted Tomato Salsa, Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Artichokes with a Garlic Aioli, and a bottle of Shiraz sound?  For under five dollars per person?

No, it’s not impossible. I was able to serve five adults (and a two year old, whom we did not count as a head) for under $25. It can be done.

The trick is finding great deals at your grocery store and taking advantage of them.  The perfect storm of all these ingredients on sale may not happen to you or me ever again, but I hope as you read my blog, you’ll start to think like a frugal chef.  Never again do I want you to pass up a Tri-Tip roast marked down 50% because you don’t think you know how to make it.  Buy it, and if you don’t know what to do with the sale ingredient, comment on my blog, ask me on Facebook, or send me a tweet (@5iveDollarFeast,) and I am sure I, or another reader, can give you ideas.

We were in Santa Maria on a Saturday in the late spring / early summer. If you’ve ever been to Santa Maria you know that means one thing: Tri-Tip. It’s where the cut of meat was first used as a whole roast on the grill. (Before a Santa Maria chef, tried this, Tri-tip was used in cubes or pieces.) Tri-Tip is now popular country-wide and goes on sale in the stores in the late spring as the weather gets warm.  Depending on where you live, what can cost $20 can be marked down to $10 and sometimes even less around this time of the year. It is much cheaper to buy an untrimmed Tri-Tip, but if you do, besure to take you kitchen shears to the fat side of the roast, and trim off as much as you can.

Although, it is popular to smother Tri-Tip in BBQ sauce and squeeze it into a hoagie (not to knock the BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich, it is delicious as well,) the original Santa Maria tradition is to apply a dry rub, and top it with salsa.  I was also able to find artichokes on sale (not surprising as Santa Maria is also home to many artichoke fields.) I also threw these on the grill and made up a quick garlic aioli.  I served the meal with a side of my favorite Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes. I even had enough room in the budget to include a bottle of  AU Shiraz I found at Grocery Outlet. They sell many high quality wines at clearance prices by buying overstock. The deal on the Tri-Tip was found at Spencer’s Fresh Markets in Santa Maria.


1 two to four pound Tri-Tip Roast, trimmed

¼ cup of Santa Maria Seasoning for the dry rub (You may also make your own rub: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and optional dried rosemary in equal parts)

¼ cup olive oil

  1. Apply Dry Rub to Tri-Tip Roast. Using hands, pour olive oil onto tri-tip and rub in the dry rub. Let the Tri-Tip marinate for 1 to 4 hours.  (If you marinate over 2 hours, refrigerate the Tri-Tip, but be sure to remove it 30 minutes prior to cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.)
  2. Preheat the grill to medium heat. (If using a charcoal grill, place coals on one side. If using a gas grill, either only light one side, or, ideally, with a 4 burner grill, light all four burners, leaving the two middle burners on low.)
  3. Place the Tri-Tip, fat side up, over direct heat (the 2 middle burners set on low on a four burner grill.) Grill for 30 minutes, checking occasionally for flare-ups.
  4. Flip the Tri-Tip and place over indirect heat. (On a 4 burner grill, turn off 2 middle burners, leaving the heat on both sides of the roast.) Grill another 20 minutes, or until it reaches desired internal temperature, about 135 degrees. Remember that the roast’s internal temperature will likely rise 10 degrees before carving.
  5. Let the Tri-Tip rest at least 10 minutes before carving or you will lose much of its juiciness.  Carve against the grain. (This means cut with the knife perpendicular to the lines running along the roast)

Roasted Tomato Salsa

2 medium tomatoes

1  jalepeno

¼ cup of fresh cilantro

2 garlic cloves

¼ onion

juice from one lime

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Blacken tomatoes on grill or directly over gas burner. Once the skin is black and peeling back from the flesh of tomato, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Roast jalepeno in the same fashion, but only until golden brown. After roasted, remove the stem, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Be mindful to not let the seeds or jalepeno juices come in contact with your eyes. Wear gloves if necessary.
  3. Peel blackened skin from the tomatoes and quarter.
  4. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and puree. Adjust flavors to taste.

Grilled Artichokes

3 artichokes


  1. Remove the top of the artichoke, and any excess stem. Using kitchen shears, remove the pointy, top portionof every leaf. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise.
  2. Add water to double boiler or pot with a steamer basket.  Add artichoke halves.  Steam for at least 30 minutes, or until a fork slides easily in and out of the artichoke’s stems.  The leaves should be easily pulled loose. Grill the artichokes for five minutes on each side. (This should be done after removing the Tri-Tip.)

Garlic Aioli Dip

About 2 cups mayonnaise

3 cloves gar

lic, pressed or finely minced

juice of ½ lemon

dried parsley or basil

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl. Mixwell, and adjust ingredients to taste.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

4 to 6 medium sized red, gold, and/ or purple potatoes

salt and pepper

About 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (Or 2 Tbsp fresh herbs)

8 to 12 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 to 4 Tbsp olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse the potatoes, and then chop them into ½” cubes. There is no need to peel the potatoes.
  3. Season potatoes with salt and pepper, herbs, and olive oil. Mix until all they are evenly coated with the herbs and oil.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from the oven, add whole garlic cloves and toss.
  5. Return the potatoes to theoven and continue to roast 20 more minutes, tossing the potatoes once after 10 minutes.  Remove potatoes from oven and serve immediately.


Tri-Tip  $8.96 + ¼ container of dry rub $1.00+ 2 tomatoes $1.07 + 2 jalepenoes $0.34 + 1 onion $.34 + ½ bunch of cilantro $0.17 + 1 lime $0.39 + 5 red potatoes $1.45 + 1 head of garlic $0.59+ 3 Artichokes$2.97 + 2 cups mayonnaise $1.74 + 1 lemon  $.25 + AU Shiraz $3.99 = $23.22

÷5 People

Comes to $4.64 per person!

An example of Tri-Tip I found in the store recently

Kitchen Basics* in recipe:

salt & pepper

olive oil

Italian seasonings

dried basil  or parsley

*See the Link to “Kitchen Basics” at the top of the blog to find out what I’m talking about.


5 responses to “The Original Five Dollar Feast

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