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Composed: Mar 23, 2023

Author: Autumn

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Budget-Friendly Gastronomy: Pollock in Mustard Cream Sauce with Bacon

Pollock in Mustard Cream Sauce with Bacon is the third installment in my Budget Meal Series, following Bacony Chicken Soup I did for the first post and Pork Rind Nachos I did for the second post.

This one has mixed reviews.

For background, the inspiration for this series comes from an account I follow on TikTok called Dollar Tree Dinners. The creator makes meals using ingredients only from Dollar Tree. I love the concept and she comes up with some really great-looking and great-sounding meals, usually for a very affordable price. But, the dishes she makes are high carb, which my body doesn't respond well to.

The concept got me thinking. Could I prepare meals using only Dollar Tree ingredients that fit my way of eating, and if so, would they still be budget-friendly?

Dollar Tree Pollock in Mustard Cream Sauce with Bacon

The Dollar Tree near me has expanded its offerings to feature a couple of frozen food cases that sell items for $3 and $5. I found a pound (16 ounces) of frozen pollock in the $5 case. I love seafood and pollock sounded good! They also had shrimp but it had a lot of undesirable additives, so I skipped it and went for the pollock.

One more note about pollock. Pollock is not a farmed fish. Unlike shrimp, salmon, tilapia, and a lot of other protein sources from the sea, pollock is not farmed. This was another reason I went for the pollock rather than the shrimp.

Cost Analysis

I found all the ingredients to make a creamy bacon mustard sauce to go with the pollock using bacon, brown mustard, parmesan cheese, and milk. Ordinarily, I'd use heavy cream in a recipe like this, but Dollar Tree doesn't stock cream and I really only need a small amount. I just need enough to make it creamy. Here's what I bought:

  • $5.00 - 1 lb (4 fillets) of frozen pollock
  • $1.25 - spicy brown mustard
  • $1.25 - 3.2 oz bacon
  • $1.25 - 2.5 oz parmesan cheese
  • $1.25 - 12 oz 2% milk
  • Total cost: $10.00
Dollar Tree Pollock in Mustard Cream Sauce with Bacon ingredients

Not pictured, bacon (oops)

I only used 6 oz of the milk, 1.25 oz of the parmesan cheese, and 2 of the 68 servings of mustard. Taking that into account, this meal cost:

  • $5.00 - 1 lb (4 fillets) of frozen pollock
  • $0.04 - spicy brown mustard
  • $1.25 - 3.2 oz bacon
  • $0.75 - 2.5 oz parmesan cheese
  • $0.75 - 12 oz 2% milk

The total cost of all these ingredients was $7.79 and I got two servings out of this, so the cost per serving works out to $3.89.


This dish was pretty simple to make. I cooked the pollock in my air fryer. These pollock fillets were very thin and saturated with water. They would not have held up to pan frying. They handled being air-fried pretty well, but I think based on their texture, they may have done better in a soup.

The sauce was pretty easy to make. I first cooked the bacon, then removed the crisped bacon and left the rendered fat. I used all of the rendered bacon fat, 6 oz of milk, 2 tbsp of mustard (as an emulsifier), and 1.25 oz of parmesan cheese to make the sauce. I simply whisked it over medium heat until it was homogenous. The whole dish took about 30 mins to prepare.


This dish tasted OK. I give it one thumb up. My taste tester said it was just OK. It wasn't bad, but he didn't love the texture of the sauce with fish. I would say that's a fair assessment. The parmesan cheese I used in this recipe is the very dry kind you usually find in a green shaker bottle. It's very difficult to get that type of cheese to melt and it did maintain some of its gritty consistency in the sauce.

I think the sauce would have been better with shrimp. It had the consistency of something like grits or polenta. It would have made a good shrimp and grits substitute (no actual grits used).

Dollar Tree Pollock in Mustard Cream Sauce with Bacon

Nutritional Breakdown

The struggle with making things from Dollar Tree is getting enough dietary fat to make it feel like a full meal while still keeping the costs low. Dollar Tree does have things like coconut oil, which I consider a healthy source of dietary fat, but buying a container of coconut oil means whatever I make will taste like coconut oil, which limits some of my options. Buying coconut oil also means adding more cost to my dishes. And while nutrition is important (it's very important), it's also important to keep the costs low here. It's a balancing act when eating on a budget and sometimes it's not easy.

I used bacon in this recipe to add both flavor and dietary fat. But a pack of bacon from Dollar Tree is only 4 slices. Even though I incorporated all the rendered fat from cooking the bacon, this meal was still light on the dietary fat for a ketogenic meal.

This is the bacon offered at Dollar Tree in the freezer section. Here is a word on sodium nitrite.

Dollar Tree Bacon ingredients: cured with: water, sodium lactate, salt, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, lactic acid starter culture, smoke flavor, sodium nitrite

The reason I chose pollock for this dish is that pollock is not a farmed fish. Unlike many other kinds of seafood such as salmon and shrimp, pollock is wild-caught.

Dollar Tree Pollock ingredients: pollock, water, sodium tripolyphosphate

The milk offered at Dollar Tree is a fortified food product. It's higher in carbs than many other dairy options like heavy cream, but sadly, heavy cream and non-fortified milk are not offered at Dollar Tree.

Dollar Tree Milk ingredients: reduced fat milk, nonfat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3

Parmesan cheese is a shelf-stable item at Dollar Tree. The ingredients in the parmesan cheese offered at Dollar Tree are similar to that of other makers:

Dollar Tree Parmesan Cheese ingredients: parmesan cheese (pasteurized part skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), powdered cellulose (added to prevent caking), potassium sorbate to protect flavor

The mustard offered at Dollar Tree has very clean ingredients:

Dollar Tree Mustard ingredients: vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric


  • Calories: 657kcal
  • Fat: 43.4g
  • Protein: 60.6g
  • Carbs (total): 5.3g

I would have preferred to add more fat by using cream instead of milk, but since that's not an option at Dollar Tree, I'm satisfied with how it came out.

Taste - Mixed Reviews

Tastes differ, and this one is not taste-tester-approved. It was more of a texture issue than taste for my taste tester. The parmesan didn't melt properly. I liked it, but he did not. The texture of the sauce gave me a new idea for a grits or polenta substitute using parmesan cheese as a base!