I just finished commenting on Frugal Trenches' post below on Frugal Friendships. Like FT, I did find that when I made the conscious decision to live more simply, I found that I had to redefine many of the ways I connected with my friends.
One thing that really worked for me was learning how to cook gourmet but frugal meals for my friends. Budget food does not have to be boring!
Here's a favourite of mine that I like to share:
Thai-style Pumpkin Soup with Coriander Pesto
Ingredients (serves 6)
2 bunches of fresh coriander
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tbs Thai red curry paste
about 1kg pumpkin chopped into small cubes
2 cups homemade vegetable stock (I make vegetable stock by saving bits and pieces of vegetables left over from peelings and simmering these peelings in water for a few hours)
400ml coconut milk
Mix coriander, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic using either a food processor or a hand-held blender (I use the bamix :) ). Slowly add 3 tablespoons of the oil to give a pesto sauce-like consistency.
Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and stir for 1 minute. Add ginger and paste and stir for 1 minute. Add pumpkin and stock, bring to boil, then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes until pumpkin is cooked. Cool slightly, then blend until smooth. Return to the pan, add the coconut milk and season, then warm through.
Serve soup in bowls and add a large spoonful of pesto in the middle of each bowl.
I like to garnish using more coriander leaves.
Serve with homemade damper (this time cooked in the oven rather than a campfire) and herbed butter (I make my herbed butter using a dash of lemon juice, chives, and a sprinkling of finely chopped olives) .
(Image from Abstract Gourmet )