Growing up, my family was big on eating together. In fact, we ate dinner together as a family 7 nights a week until my brother and I were old enough to have occasional dinners out with friends.

The concept that there is “only one dinner and you eat it together” is something that I’ve brought to my marriage. I don’t have children to feed on a schedule, so I don’t have a problem “holding dinner” if one of us has to be out and about late. I make one meal and we eat it together.

Sure, sometimes we eat dinner in front of the TV, but we eat it at the same time, so I figure that’s a start.

Even though we’ve got the “eat together” thing nailed, figuring out what we eat has been a little more difficult. When doing the meal planning, there are three major concerns that I have in the back of my head:

  • Keeping costs low.
  • Not eating myself into an early grave.
  • Preventing as much waste as humanly possible.

We don’t have a lot of money right now, so I don’t want to spend an unnecessarily huge amount on groceries, but I also don’t want to rely entirely on cheap prepared foods either. (Man cannot live on Red Baron pizza alone, amirite?) Moreover, I don’t want to have tons of leftovers that will go bad before we can eat them. Because that wastes money.

Hence, fish in a bag.

If you want to get technical, this is actually called poisson en papillote and it refers to the fact that you steam your fish in a parchment paper “bag.” I’m not too fancy, so I stick with “fish in a bag.” You can use just about any type of fish, but I like tilapia. Here’s how I made it last time:

Mis en place. Because I'm fancy and French.

Mis en place. Because I’m fancy and French.

Necessary Ingredients:

  • One onion, chopped
  • One red bell pepper, chopped
  • One pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Two lemons, juiced
  • One tablespoon minced garlic
  • The zest of one half lemon
  • A quarter stick of butter
  • 2 tilapia fillets

I had some leftover salad vegetables that were starting to get less-than-crunchy, so I decided to cook them as a topping for the fish. I threw all of the vegetables in a pan with the butter and garlic, with salt and pepper to taste.


I cooked that mixture over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Then it looked like this:


Once the vegetables were looking good and soupy, I placed the fish fillets on a piece of parchment paper (one piece per piece). Then, I poured a generous spoonful of the sauce over the fish and sealed up the parchment packets.

What a nice looking fish.

What a nice looking fish.



Throw the fish in the oven at 400 for 12-15 minutes. I ate it with rice.

Mandatory blogger shot of less-than-appetizing looking plate of food? Check.

Mandatory blogger shot of less-than-appetizing looking plate of food? Check.

Cheap, tasty, ostensibly nutritious and no leftovers.