The first part of living well on a Military budget is to own a cookbook, because Living Well is being able to cook well. No, I don't mean a gourmet cookbook, not to start of with anyway, but a good, all-in-one cookbook. When I was a little girl, my mom had a Better Homes and Garden cookbook. I learned to cook my own spaghetti sauce with it, and have since tweaked the recipe it to make it my own. When I moved out on my own, (I was a single parent at the time), I invested $14 into one of my own, and have since cooked many staple, starter dishes. Nothing fancy, but just good, home cooked meals, that I make time and time again, including desserts, breads, soups & sauces.
This cookbook has all sorts of tips and tricks and has been my fall back cookbook over the years. I have several gourmet cookbooks that I grab from time to time, including some that my husband has learned to use over the years, but the Better Homes and Garden cookbook remains my all time favorite. I've replaced mine once, and several editions have come out since I've replaced my original one that I bought 16 years ago, only to get new, up to date recipes.
You should be able to get one of your own of several different editions at Amazon.com, or your local Barnes and Noble for about $20.
The reason for owning a cookbook is important is because you can learn not only some great recipes, but you learn tips that can save you money. BH&G Cookbook has directions for canning & freezing, which in this time of economic woe, is essential in saving money. If you can buy from the farmer's market, or want to start your own vegetable garden but are afraid of your hard work will go bad in just a few days to weeks, the BH&G Cookbook can teach you how, in simple, easy to understand instructions.
Then, once you've learned the basics, (BH&G Cookbook teaches you many of the basics that the gourmet ones may or may not teach you.) and you wish to venture into more specialized or gourmet cooking, go to your local bookstore and grab a gourmet cookbook that suits what you want to cook. I have several different cookbooks, but my favorite one is the 100 Best Worldwide Recipes. In it, my husband and I found a great Tuna and White Bean salad that we enjoy from time to time. We've also found many soups from around the world that we enjoy as well.
So, I urge you to go out and grab a good basic cookbook and learn the basics. Your family and your wallet will thank you.