Belinda had written about some good reads about frugality. I definitely want to check some of these books out. Her post got me thinking about some of the books I have found useful. One of them is From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook.
Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila Latourrette, a resident monk at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery near Milbrook, NY, is the author. The book does talk a little bit about monastery life and some of the stories and festivals around some dishes. I'm an unrepentant heathen, but I was raised as Catholic and did find this interesting. I always thought of monks as living intentionally deprived lives, but they just live simply. It's nice to see how you can take joy in simple things and create delicious meals that everyone enjoys with basic ingredients.
The books is divided into seasons, and each section features soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts. The foods are foods you would get seasonally--which is refreshing since I cannot tell you how many times I've flipped through a vegetarian or "simple" cookbook to see recipes that call for things like pomegranate vinegar. It's also mainly vegetarian (though there are some fish recipes, and there is a lot of cheese, dairy, and eggs for many dishes in the book).
This book is where I got the recipe for zucchini-stuffed tomatoes I wrote about ages ago. There are a lot of simple dishes using basic but fresh ingredients and herbs--so they are economical and flavorful. They also save you a fair amount of time, since you aren't going to need to defrost meat. I've made things like Mediterranean Lentil Salad, Yogurt Cake Saint-Elie, and Toledo Spanish Tuna, among others.
People who like very spicy food may find the recipes a little bland--so you'll want to add in a lot of garlic and pepper. While I like spicy food but I am also fine with mild food, though a lot of herbs never hurt anyone.