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.
EDIT: I just noticed this meal was totally vegan!