Somehow we’ve managed to live a little too large here at LivingSmall, the debt-to-savings ratio has gotten itself upside down, and so we’re trying to cut back wherever we can.
I’m the kind of person who buys pantry staples when I’m feeling existentially anxious, and so, in the spirit of economizing, I’ve found myself looking in the pantry and remembering that I can feed myself a whole week’s worth of lunches, for example, off a nice pot of pea soup. Pea soup costs almost nothing. Today I made a batch — I pulled a couple of carrots and a late onion from the garden — sautéed them up, added a cup of mixed dried yellow and green peas, a generous splash of wine, chicken stock to cover, and the leaves off two or three sprigs of thyme from the garden. Really, a soup that I put maybe 50 cents worth of ingredients into (okay a buck if you take the wine into account). A couple of hours later, the house smelled good, and I had a pot of soup that was welcome on an evening where the weather had turned cold and blustery.
My friend Nina’s been in the same boat lately — things were tight this summer and she drew on her childhood in the hippie commune — she found herself doing a lot of brown rice and vegetables with cheese, soups, pastas with veggies, egg frittattas. We were discussing how easy it had been when times were flush to just not pay attention at all — to go to the grocery store with no list and buy stuff. Or in my case, get stuck in that idea that dinner has to include a piece of protein, a starch and a green veggie when there are so many other possibilities. We got talking about how we were both sort of enjoying paying attention to our food budgets again, and not only economizing, but remembering how good really simple cheap food can be. My pea soup was delicious. Nina’s brown rice with veggies and cheese was yummy. We were both sort of ashamed at how far we’d strayed during the flush times, and although neither of us is thrilled that things are kind of tight at the moment, it’s been good to remember that we’re perfectly capable of feeding ourselves and our loved ones very well without spending much.