Tips for Frugal Meals ~ and Indian Lentil Recipe
You’ve heard it or you’ve said it yourself, right?
“Eating healthy costs too much money.”
Of course, there aren’t
- coupons for organic broccoli
- BOGO’s on pastured chicken or
- “catalinas” on coconut sugar
Those of us interested in eating healthier whole foods and doing so on a budget must look to other means to make budget friendly meals.
I’ve learned how to save money on whole foods the hard way.
Without going into debt, my husband and I have been through
- several advanced degrees (all his)
- a special needs child with no medical coverage for his condition
- at one point a salary of $13,500/year
Now, at various points, we weren’t eating as healthfully as we are now, but believe me–eating healthy on a budget can be done.
Today I’m sharing some of my best tips for making frugal whole foods meals.
I’m also going to share one of our favorite frugal recipes–Indian Lentils.
1. Eat More Beans
If there were stock in beans, I’d buy it now. Beans are simply a great way to stretch your whole foods dollar, and in this economy, more and more people are going to be eating beans.
- Make main dishes with beans, like Adzuki Bean Shepherd’s Pie.
- Substitute beans for some or all of the meat in your main dishes (In our favorite meal, Pakistani Curry, kidney beans would make a nice meat alternative.)
2. Use Leftovers
Throwing away food is of course, not a budget-friendly habit .
- Having a leftover night, but call it “Family Buffet” or something fun like that? Pull all the leftovers out of the fridge, put them each on different plates on the table and have everyone serve themselves.
- Use leftovers to make a new meal like I do with my “Clean Out the Fridge” Pasta.
3. Be Flexible
Use substitutions when working with a recipe:
- If your recipe calls for celery, but carrots are on sale, buy the carrots and cut the cost of your meal.
- Make do with what you have. If your recipe calls for onions, but you’re out, either use minced onion or onion powder. Or avoid an extra trip to the store and just do without. Extra spices or salt can make up for the flavor you might miss.
One of our favorite Money Saving Meals is Indian Lentils.
You can make this dish with either traditional green or brown lentils, or you can use red lentils to get the beautiful yellow color you see in the photo above.
This dish is fast (only 9 minutes if you have a pressure cooker!) and kid-friendly.
- 3-4 Tbsp coconut oil or other healthy fat.
- 1 onion, diced (or ~ 2 Tbsp. minced plus a bit of water to reconstitute)
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 oz (3 1/2 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 1/2 cups red or brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2-3 Tbsp dried)
- Salt to taste (I recommend RealSalt; use about 2 tsp)
1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
2. Add onion and garlic, cooking about 5 minutes until onion is soft.
3. Add broth through pepper.
4. Boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked thoroughly. Note: Red lentils will cook more quickly so keep an eye on them. Green will take longer–about 45 minutes. (If you have a pressure cooker, red lentils will be done in about 9 minutes, but add tomatoes after cooking the beans.)
5. Add basil and salt to taste and stir.
Serve over rice or other grain.
What’s your favorite frugal meal or frugal meal tip?
Adrienne, of Whole New Mom, is a wife and homeschooling mother of two boys, one of whom has Asperger’s Syndrome and life-threatening food allergies. In her past life she worked in the financial services industry and also taught in Japan. She has a passion to help others navigate the sea of information on the road to healthier lives, while trusting God for the results of their efforts. Additionally, she is a blossoming food freedom advocate. Because she loves to (and can’t afford not to ), she specializes in frugal living and simplifying special diets. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.