When I moved to Minnesota, I became obsessed with being outside in any sort of decent weather. We all spend a good 5+ months inside due to the freezing and long winter, so when it was time to move last summer I knew I needed a porch. One of the big reasons I chose my current place was that it had the outdoor space needed for hanging out and dining on nice nights. The porch is also a sweet office space to some work and hang out with coffee and Maeby in the mornings.
So, the current place came with a front porch and a nice back patio area. These parts of the place have saved tons of money. HOW? Well, I spent the first two summers in Minneapolis in an awesome apartment thats downside was that it came with no outdoor area. I would go out to eat/drink on different patios in the neighborhood all the time because I just wanted to be outside; even after spending the day walking around the lake or window shopping.
To go with my theme of the fact that the porch saves us money, I decided to cook up a cheap dinner of corn on the cob, mushrooms two ways (fancy!) and a baked potato. This was a dinner for two, with a glass of wine each, considering it was one of the first porch meals of the season. And it was delicious!
The cost breakdown:
Mushroom ingredients: 50¢ approx.
Corn on the cob: 50¢ for two.
Potatoes: 50¢ for two (we got a 5lb bag for $3)
Two glasses of wine: $2.50 (the wine I buy is $4/bottle)
Total: $6 or $3 a person including wine! $3 is less than I spend on any Starbucks drink, including the one pictured above.
In my previous patio dining days, I would have spent more than five times that minimum! I still LOVE to go out, especially on a rooftop patio, but hanging out on my porch is a good alternative.
If you want some more tips and recipes for cheap meals you should check out one of my favorite blogs Not Eating Out in New York. She gives a cost breakdown of each meal, and her meals are often vegetarian friendly, easy and healthy. In the meantime, here is how I spruced up a box o’ mushrooms; do it, make yourself an inexpensive meal and hopefully hang out outside.
Way 1: Frenchie mushrooms
1/2 a box of mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Splash of white wine
1. Pam a frying pan and heat up a tiny bit of Olive Oil.put the garlic in. Let it cook for a minute.
2. Add the mushrooms and a splash of white wine. Let them cook until soft/done. It takes only a few minutes.
3. Add the chopped parsley right at the end, stir and serve.
Way 2: Asian-ish mushrooms
1/2 box of sliced mushrooms
1 T soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
1. Pam a frying pan, put mushrooms in the pan.
2. Add soy sauce and vinegar.
3. Let them cook for a few minutes, add a pinch of sugar, stir and serve when done.
The best part about the porch dining experience is that Maeby can hang out too. And eat some corn on the cob. Normal.
EDIT: I just noticed this meal was totally vegan!