Most of our food was processed in some way and supplemented with a few fresh fruit and vegetables. I tried and tried to make bread. It rarely rose nicely. Always thought it was the temperature. Now I know it must have been the yeast. (I use SAF yeast now. The dough will rise at just about any temperature.) The Pillsbury dough boy was my friend. Canned biscuits, turnovers, and bread sticks were favorites. A treat we had often were frozen honey buns. They came four in a box, but rarely lasted two days. Popped the honey buns in the toaster oven and they were warm and gooey in 10 minutes.
My mother-in-law taught me the basics of cooking after I was married. She must have worried about her son's diet although she never said a word to me. She patiently answered my stupid questions and gave me recipes and cookbooks. I always appreciated the left overs she sent home with us! We went to their house for Friday night supper and Sabbath afternoon dinner. My sister-in-law and her husband were usually there. Cooking with her was fun and enlightening. It was a fun family tradition that we no longer manage because families live in three states.
About the time we moved to the other side of the country, she gave me the "More with Less" cookbook. It is based on using less of the earth's resources, eating in moderation and reducing protein intake. American meals are primarily protein rather than eating mainly veggies and carbohydrates with a bit of protein. There are a variety of protein sources in the cookbook: legumes, dairy and grains as well as meats, poultry and seafood. One of our favorite is Lentil Stew made with lentils, of course, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, celery, herbs and cheese. It was baked, however, I now make it in a crookpot or on the stovetop. Recipes are made to be tinkered with, and I can never leave a recipe alone. I add potatoes or we sometimes have the stew over rice.
Another family recipe (from my husband's family) is breakfast hash served over buttered toast. It's very simple to make, can be made ahead, and is good for any meal. Ingredients are potatoes, celery, chicken stock and chicken. I substitute the chicken and broth because we are vegetarian.
Rice with tomatoes and cheese is one of my early-marriage favorites. My husband does not care for canned tomatoes. There is a 'taste' he doesn't like. So we don't have this often.
I have started November meal planning by making lists of inexpensive ingredients and dishes we enjoy. Half of our dinners are combining ingredients I have on hand at the last minute (as my husband is on his way home from work). Often I chop an onion and garlic as I try to think what to have for supper. Carbohydrate is the next choice: bread, pasta, rice or potato? Deciding what spices and flavorings skews the remainder of the ingredient choices. Most days it is pretty good, occasionally, yuck! Fortunately he is good about my experiments! I always tease that he has no taste buds. :-)