Eating on a Budget: Lentils Edition

One of my favorite foods is lentils.

I used to hate lentils. That is because (sorry Mom!) the only way I had ever had lentils was in this thick, baby poop textured soup. We ate a lot of it one sad winter when my grandpa was sick and for years I associated lentils with bland, undersalted gloopy sadness.

But not anymore. Because lentils don’t have to be brown! Baby poop days are over, baby! You can buy green lentils, yellow lentils, orange lentils, black lentils (called beluga lentils because they look like caviar, and if that isn’t fancy I don’t know what is!). During one of my leanest Christmases I made beautiful (very inexpensive) gifts for my family by making lentil soup mixes in jars with multiple colors of lentils with some spices added.

Lentils are about $1.89 per pound and a pound of lentils will last about 10 meals. That is an EXCELLENT bargain food (did I mention filling, comforting and healthy, too?). Even if you splurge on olive oil or spices, you are still getting some cheap eats.

Here are two of my favorite lentil recipes:

This first one is a very happy lentil dish (I just read an article that said that orange foods are for happiness and now I feel happy when I eat orange foods. I also read a different article that said vitamin C makes you happy, so that is probably the link we were missing. But I prefer to think it is the color that brings the joy). Warm curry, coconut milk, a squeeze of lime (added by me, I told you I am bad at recipe sharing)…perfect for freezing winter weather and for helping you imagine that you are eating it out of a banana leaf in the tropics. When I made it I ended up with a huge pot (all legumes expand and you will eat more of them than you expected, that is a life lesson) but we gobbled it up happily for a full week! I never can tolerate leftovers that long and usually end up freezing them, but these lentils were just what we needed.

The next one is a Rachael Ray speciality. Feel how you want about Rachael Ray, but I learned about this recipe when she told a very engaging story about how she had these lentils as an appetizer at a restaurant and could not get enough of them. I serve them on nice crusty toast and I add extra garlic. Yum. I might have skipped my entree too, Rachael. The garlicky olive oil might be the best invention of all time, and combined with lentils…swoon worthy.

I hope you enjoy slenderizing your budget (and possibly your waistline) with my newly rediscovered favorite legume!

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