This whole being home thing has really allowed me to step up my homemaker cred. I'm baking all of our bread. Multigrain for sandwiches, toast and whatnot and lately lots and lots of English muffins. I've always made spaghetti sauce and stock, but now I've added beans to the freezer stash. Black beans, white beans and refried pinto beans.
I recently read An Everlasting Meal and while it wasn't particularly revalatory for me, it has added to my mindfulness. The flipside is the recent Yahoo column a friend posted for ridicule, wherein the thing that I found most outrageous was the $1000 monthly food bill. (The rest of it is really a whole 'nother topic.) I suppose if you don't cook, or don't like to, it can really add up, even if you're not eating out. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around that figure.
You can eat well (in all senses) inexpensively with just a bit of planning. Try not to buy things that will spoil willy nilly. I definitely still struggle with this, because I hit the produce section and IT ALL LOOKS SO GOOD. So I come home with a bit too much, and don't get to the pear or the kiwi before it goes to the dark side.
Know what you have in your pantry and freezer to work with. Throw out your recipes (for the most part).
For example, I made our monthly shopping trip to Costco Wednesday and came home with a rotisserie chicken because I hadn't made a plan for dinner. (Super tasty, $5. That's how much raw chicken costs.)
I threw together a warm potato and arugula salad (impulse bought the arugula at Trader Joe's) and some green beans and we had a lovely dinner. The leftover salad was FANTASTIC scrambled with eggs for breakfast in the morning.
I made red beans and rice to go with the rest of the chicken last night. I hadn't planned on it, so instead of soaking the beans, I simmered them for about an hour. Then I strained them (saving the liquid to make soup later) and added them to sauted bacon, onions, and celery with some chicken stock and spices. I used the cooking liquid from that round to make a baked rice pilaf, sauted some kale (in more bacon) and heated up frozen corn. The chicken carcass will go into the freezer until I have enough to make a giant pot of stock. And there's still an entire breast left, which is going on barbecue chicken pizza tonight.
That's the kind of day that makes me feel good. And it's totally a bonus if I've had time to clean the bathrooms.