A cheerful look makes a dish a feast
Hard times means economy with the victuals, parsimony in the plate and pared down portions.
A plain meal can be a wholesome dish and saving the pennies need not mean your food won't be doing you good. In fact, the need to tighten your belt might be the best thing ever for your health. The quality of food can be high even if it costs little. A good vegetable broth is filling and full of vitamins and minerals and cheap to make. The cheaper cuts of meant can be rich in valuable proteins.
But what we are being reminded of here is that however meagre your fare if it is served by a pleasant person and eaten in good company you are the equal of a king.