Thursday, July 17, 2008

SIMPLE SUMMER SUPPERAfter a late afternoon of visiting a friend and her new baby, and stopping in to see my mom at her art gallery,
I returned home to four hungry guys
and no plan.

I quickly perused the fridge to see what vegetables were the ripest and needed to be used first:
tomatoes, squash, plums.

A healthy summer dinner quickly fell in to place.

A simple sauce of fresh tomatoes (a gift from a friend),
basil and oregano from my yard,
fresh garlic, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper.
I had squash (also from a friend) that were about to go bad, so I sliced them thinly and added them to the sauce.
The kids barely noticed them, and it was a great way to sneak in another vegetable.
Cost of sauce: approximately $0.50

The sauce was spooned over whole wheat penne pasta that I purchased at the Discount Food store for $0.65.
I used half a box (which left plenty for lunch tomorrow).
Cost of 1/2 box of pasta: $0.32

A jar of green beans, canned by my mother a few weeks ago.
The green beans were a gift from a farmer to my dad.
I added a pat of butter, sea salt, pepper, and 1 chicken bouillon cube (from the discount food store).
Cost of green beans: approximately $0.50.

A few pieces of bakery bread,
out of the freezer and spread with a mixture of softened butter and block parmesan, grated.
These went under the broiler until toasty.
Cost of toast: approximately $1.00

for dessert,
a big bowl of plums,
sweet and juicy.
I think I paid about $2 for them.

The total cost of the meal was under $5.

It was a simple meal, nothing fancy.
But, it was filling and delicious and full of fresh vegetables.
It is a meal that I wouldn't have been embarrassed to serve to company.
That is something I have been thinking about lately.
I don't want to serve my family foods that I wouldn't serve to company.
I want every meal to be delicious enough that I would be happy to serve it to any guests.
My family is as important as anyone that could grace our table, and I want them to feel that in the foods that I serve for them.

I am also a firm believer in using the best ingredients available.
Simple upgrades often don't cost a lot more, but make a big difference in the taste quality of the food.
Fresh herbs instead of dried,
fresh garlic,
sea salt instead of table salt,
fresh ground peppercorns instead of ground pepper,
good quality block parmesan instead of pre-shredded in a bag,
and vegetables from the garden made this meal not only delicious,
but also a delight to prepare.

I love the smell of the fresh basil,
as I slice it under my fingertips.

I love to stir the tomatoes,
simmering in my cast iron skillet,
favorite wooden spoon in hand.

I love to see the happy faces of hungry boys,
when I carry in steaming plates of food.

Sacred in the ordinary.

Cooking for our families can be a pleasure-full,
joyful act of service to our families,
even when crunched for time and on a small budget.

*Creative Commons image from VirtualErn on


  1. I MUST remember that, as well. Too many times I "throw" something together reserving my best for company. Shame on me! You have given me yet another Challenge

  2. Lovely post, Laurel! Thoughtful living on a budget is so thrilling.

  3. I love how you itemized this. I think I'll try to do this for a post sometime. Not all our meals are this inexpensive, but many are. And seriously, you couldn't get a meal like that deliciousness for under $30 at a decent restaurant!

  4. yummy, Laurel.
    I love making a yummy meal out of scraps from my satisfying!!

  5. Laurel, you mom emailed me about her new blog, so I followed her link to yours. I'm so glad to see you are still blogging! I'm looking forward to reading over your old posts. What I've seen so far looks great!

    I resumed "Kathryn Estelle" a couple of months ago.


  6. I am enthralled by the poetry of your post... Your words are as beautiful as the incredible meal you prepared. "Sacred in the ordinary" is so important, so true... I'm so glad I discovered your blog!

  7. Don't you just love it when things come together like that? It feels like a musical performance. I remember how satisfying it was to provide nice, but low budget, meals when my husband was in school. Moving to Manhattan sort of upped the ante, but I still like to have a high joy/cost ratio in a meal.

  8. love your quote by Robert Louis S.