I have to admit, Sunday afternoon I was beat from an active day that began with a big dog walk then progressed into grocery shopping, a yoga class, cleaning house and working in the garden, followed by a very welcome shower. All would make for a fantastic spring day if I didn't then have to make dinner! I was too tired and broke to consider going out to pick something up, so I took an exploratory tour of cupboard, fridge and freezer, grumbling all the while that I hadn't followed my own oft-preached advice and planned tonight's meal when I shopped just that morning! I opened a fortifying local beer, nibbled on some sunflower seeds and forced myself to start pulling a few things out and putting some thought into it. A mere 20 minutes later, when I took a load off and took my first bite, I was so happy that I laughed out loud at myself because this is one of my very favorite meals with benefits: really awesome flavors, satisfying without being too heavy, costs so little and is pretty darn healthy. I relaxed in front of a stupid movie and savored every bite. It was a gratifying way to end a productive Sunday. Here's what I dug up in the kitchen... Whole wheat couscous: So easy and fast to cook. Then I toss and season with something tasty I have on my overloaded fridge door: a few olives and/or sundried tomatoes in oil to mince; half a jar of pesto or tapenade; some crumbled feta or goat cheese; cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, celery, carrot, red onion. Give it a generous squeeze of lemon and then, if needed, a little salt, Bragg's liquid aminos or tamari soy sauce. I like a spoonful of harissa, too...a little goes a long way for very flavorful heat. Rustic hummus: I mash 1 can (or the equivalent home-cooked) drained and rinsed garbanzo beans with a drizzle of flaxseed or olive oil, garlic (granules work, but fresh pressed is better), lemon juice and a dash of salt. If I have tahini (sesame seed paste), I definitely add 2 or 3 tablespoons of that for more authentic flavor! (Tahini is actually a very good thing to have on hand for flavoring salad dressing and dips when you don't want to use mayo or cheese.) For a hummus recipe with all the details, check out this one. Raw vegetable salad: Large bite-sized chunks of cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper or any combination thereof tossed with garlicky vinaigrette. Frozen pita bread: This is my all-purpose freezer staple-whole wheat is my personal preference. Warm in the microwave, oven or skillet, cut into wedges and wrap in a kitchen towel until you're ready to eat. What else? Olives are good. Lamb kabobs are great, and to limit the cost, after they're cooked, cut up in small bites and add to the couscous. Tart lemonade over loads of crushed ice is an admirable accompaniment from the beverage category. I have all kinds of nosy questions for you this time: What's your secret for a satisfying meal at the end of a long, tired day? When do you turn to the Middle East? What are your favorite meals with benefits?