The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dinner for 25 Cents

             Three decades ago, when I was a single mother, I was broke. I was doing work I loved, but the pay was poor.  I was going to college, and, thanks to my grandparents, I had a place to live, but there was little money for food.

             And there was also the little one to worry about...

            As a mother, it was my job to sacrifice if needed, to ensure my daughter had what she needed to grow and flourish.  She got sausage and eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch was at her daycare center.  And dinner--for her--was usually some sort of "hamburger helper" along with whatever vegetables I could entice her to eat. One box and a small mound of meat would last for several meals for her.

         On the other hand, I ate macaroni and cheese most evenings. In those days, there was a section of "plain label" groceries---plain white boxes and simple black labels---and you could get 4 boxes of macaroni and cheese mix for a buck.  That meant a dollar would buy me dinner for four nights. (If I was living particularly high on the hog, I would add some sauteed onions, which elevated them to "gourmet.")

photo by Laura A

         Today, I still love macaroni and cheese, with some sauteed onions thrown in for a zing of flavor. It's strange how we return, again and again, to get comfort from the things we had to eat when things were tight.

          Almost forgotten, these memories were unearthed when I read Pearl's heart-warming post.  It's called "Wherein I Get Sentimental About a Bird I Once Knew." Usually, Pearl is irreverent and gut-bustingly funny.  This one is poignant.

          Check it out. It'll warm you up tonight, despite the cold weather...

icicles hanging right above our front door

snow in the great white North (County)


  1. I just notices your "published in" books. Congrats!

    When Joe and I were first married we used to eat a lot of the .50 Kraft mac & cheese, and also Ramen noodles, which are still super inexpensive at about .10 a package. You have me reminiscing now about the early years...

  2. Thank you, my dear, for the shout-out. :-)

    The stories of our struggles, well, they're the trail of how (and why) we've become what we are. Some people become bitter and stingy, and others become compassionate and giving. I struggle every day with choosing to try to be the latter. :-) Some days are harder than others!!

    (And I hear your mac and cheese and raise you a harrowing four months of bean burritos. Yikes!)

    Lovely post!!


  3. Just dropped in to say thanks for the follow-and the nudge! I've been intending to check out your blog for some time and thoroughly enjoyed your mac 'n cheese.

    Um, your POST about mac 'n cheese.:-) Though my kids lived on mac 'n cheese from a box (as did I). I love that tastes like love!

  4. Sioux, for us it was pot pies-25 cents at the food market on base. I'm learning something new about you. Thanks for sharing:)

  5. Very touching. I was a single mom too. Thank you for referring me to Pearl...wonderful, wonderful post.

  6. We have more in common that you can imagine. I cannot even stand the thought of Hamburger Helper Stroganoff. Have a great day.

  7. This post really brought back memories of buying five cans of Campbell's soup for a dollar and five containers of yogurt, and living off that for almost a whole week. And that icicle photo is a fiercely beautiful work of art!

  8. Grilled cheese and tomato soup were budget stretchers for us.
    Donna v.

  9. Ah, the days of that great delicacy, Hamburger Helper. I've gained 5 pounds just thinking about it!



Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...