Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lentil stew - no, don't click to another site yet!

Lentil stewTimes are hard and we all have to save money wherever we can. One of the places that a lot of people waste money is on office lunches. Yes, I know it's easy to nip down to Pret and treat yourself to a brie and bacon wrap (or whatever) but before you know it you've spent five or six quid a day and that's a whole lotta cash!

Auntie Anne makes her own (and Uncle K's) sandwiches at the weekend and freezes them in poly bags. Batch-making sarnies is quick and easy and it saves time in the mornings as well as cash. Just take a bag out before you leave in the morning and it'll be defrosted in time for lunch.

Any kind of cooked meats (ham, corned beef, chicken, turkey) can be frozen for a few days without suffering a loss of texture and flavour. Choose different breads each week, and vary the fillings by adding pickles and chutneys, mayo rather than spread, Marmite, Gentleman's Relish, etc. Tinned fish works well mashed in with mayo and a bit of tomato sauce too. Or you can even grate cheese and make yourself a cheese and onion or cheese and pickle sandwich. Don't be tempted to try and freeze tomato slices though - it really doesn't work.

But right now it's a bit chilly isn't it?  And maybe you fancy something a bit more warming as you sit at your desk Facebooking your mates in your break. This only works if you have access to a microwave at work, of course.

Here's how to make it
Get yourself some green lentils. They are incredibly cheap and go a very long way! 

Pour a handful of dry lentils per portion into a sieve. Give them a quick once-over to make sure there's no small stones in among them. (Depends where you get them - some are less likely than others to have stray bits.)  Now rinse them well under cold running water for a couple of minutes.

Put them in a pan and cover with fresh, cold water. DON'T ADD SALT! Bring it to the boil, stir once, then turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and let them cook for about 20 minutes.  Skim off any scum that forms on the surface (though if you washed them well it probably won't). Eat one to test if it's cooked. (Think baked beans for the required texture.)

While they're cooking, chop up whatever veg you have handy into small cubes - mushroom stalks, green beans, carrots, onion, leeks, sweetcorn kernels, parsnips - and fry them off with some garlic in a little oil. You can also add whatever herbs or spices you like/have in your cupboard. Add a good squidge of tomato puree if you've got some and put in some water. Simmer it together until you get veg in a sort of tomato sauce. Leave on one side till the lentils are cooked.

When it's all done you mix the lot together and now's the time to salt it if you need to. Portion it up and freeze it, or pack it up for tomorrow's lunch. If you make a big batch you can do both.

It's cheap, filling, tasty and easy. And all your colleagues will want to know what you're eating because it smells divine!


  1. I'll have to give this a try, thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello I have just found your blog having popped over from Cute &Cosy.I like the sound of the lentil recipe.I had never used chickpeas before but made a lovely dish with them which I put on my blog, I was so surprised how good the dish was.I am going to try more things that I never fancied before because you just never know!

  3. It does sound rather tasty, I've never really used lentils but I may give it a try!

  4. I live on lentils, I swear, and I like your easy method for them.

    One of my favorite veg-friendly restaurants here in Buffalo, NY makes a lentil-wheatberry sandwich-- a taco type sandwich but made with pita bread-- that is just out-of-this-world good. They call it a pitaco, and it has been on the menu for 20+ years, still popular.

    Peace, Mari

  5. I used to make all my sandwiches and freeze them for my school lunches when I was working. I didn't have much problem freezing tomatoes, but lettuce was a no-no for me.

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  7. I am NOT a cook so this is great. I'll try it.
    Rae Ann O.

  8. Oh we love lentils :)

    Have a great Valentines day ! :)