When I first got married, I was in school full time ( didnt work) and my wife had a $6 an hour job. So needless to say, the cash wasnt flowing in and we were on a tight budget. Our limit per meal was $3. This forced us to be very creative. At least 3 times a week we had spaghetti. Other meals included pierogi, soups ( pea, vegetable, onion, mushroom barley...). Once a week we would even get one of those lipton rice packets ( the broccoli and cheddar cheese) and we would chop up a fresh broccoli and add it in to give it a fresh, homemade feel).
One of our best finds for inexpensive meals was this local produce store. It was kinda hidden in a rural area. We would buy literally crates of vegetables and fruit for about $10 in total, and Id spend all day Sunday cooking pots of things that I could freeze for the rest of the week to eat ( sauces, soups). It was probably this time in my life where i got the joy and ability to cook, because I had no other choice than to cook my own stuff, and be creative to keep the budget under $3 a meal.
The kitchen was no palace either. If you stood in the center of the kitchen and stretched out your arms, u could literaly touch all 4 walls. Just enough room for the stove, sink and fridge. But many good, memorable meals came out of that kitchen.
I used to get upset that my brother has the bigger, better , fancier kitchen, yet all they eat is frozen prepared food. And here I am, cooking homemade meals every day, watch the food channel, belong to cooking forums, cooking magazines, go to food and wine shows, expos... and my kitchen is quite inferior to his. But , the good thing is, that I know the better , more creative food comes out of my kitchen.