I was co-opping at NASA and living in a boardinghouse. I was supposed to share an apartment with another co-op student, but she backed out less than an hour before we were supposed to sign the rental agreement, and I had to scramble to find a place to live. The boardinghouse wasn’t too bad – the landlady was a divorcee with three grown kids and two cats. My only complaints were that she limited how long I could be on the phone (okay, I talk a lot), and she heated the house with a couple of kerosene heaters rather than the central heating system in the wintertime. I had run of the kitchen, a cheap place to sleep, and company in the evenings.
Speaking of run of the kitchen, she had one refrigerator for her food and another for the boarders. Reasonable enough. Most of the time I lived there, there was only one other boarder (hi Bill!), and he didn’t cook much. I cooked for myself all the time, as cheaply as possible, because I was trying to save enough money for the next college tuition payment. I used to make a chicken, rice, and peas casserole (like arroz con pollo but without the pimento) that was less than $4 to make and would last for 4 meals, sometimes 5. Meat, starch, veggie, glass of milk, got it covered. No food pyramid here.
One of the landlady’s sons was serving in the Army at the time and came home for a week. He knew that one fridge was his mom’s but mixed up which one. He saw my chicken and rice casserole and devoured the whole thing. Holy cow, you ate my dinner for the next 3 nights! Because he was just as broke as I was, he offered me a MRE as a replacement. It was a chicken a la king MRE. Yes, I ate it. I can just imagine XBrad shuddering at that. IIRC, it wasn’t that bad, but I can certainly understand how much better a home-cooked meal would be.