Cheap Ass Monday – Lentils & Rice March 3, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Food, random stuff.
As I mentioned yesterday, we’re participating in Thursday Night Smackdown’s Hobo Monday, so here it is – us stretching our recession dollar until it squeals.
Did that even make sense? Oh well. . .
Anyway, the gist of the rules: create a meal for your family that costs $2.50 per person – since we’re now cooking for three, I guess we’re allowed $7.50.
We decided to go with a meatless crockpot dish – a lentil & rice dish that we first tried about a year ago and really, really liked.
And did I mention that it’s made pretty much entirely with pantry staples? You know, assuming you have a decently stocked pantry, of course.
Seriously, I wish I’d discovered this Egyptian Lentils & Rice back when I was a single mom trying to pay the rent . . .
So here we go – stay tuned to the end for the nerdy math stuff.
The first thing we do is chop one decent-sized onion, then sauté it in a splash of olive oil, just until the onions are softened. We don’t need browning here, just soft and translucent.
Have I mentioned yet how much I love the silicone spatula? It’s so much easier to stir with a spatula that doesn’t get all melty at the first sign of fire.
So anyway, the next thing we’re going to do dump some stuff into the crockpot:
- 1 cup lentils
- 1/2 cup rice (we use brown basmati)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
I know, crazy, right? Cinnamon and cumin?
As an aside, if you get a chance to pick up some brown basmati rice, by all means, do it. It’s fragrant like basmati, PLUS it’s got a hint of that nutty, chewy brown rice thing going on. . . it’s quickly become our daily “go-to” rice. And Sam’s Club carries it in 6-pound packages.
So anyway, once the onions are just softened, dump them right in the crockpot with the rice and lentils and spices. You could probably give it a stir, too.
Now we’re going to add 5 or 6 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth. In this case, we used the 1-quart aseptic packs – while our homemade chicken stock is far superior to anything you’ll find in the store, we only have just so much, and I’d hate to bury the lovely chickeny goodness under a bunch of cumin and cinnamon, you know?
I have got to get that pineapple cut up and in the fridge.
Peeps started this in the slow cooker on Very Low at around 7 this morning – by 6 this evening, it was just about ready to eat.
So the bottom line – Peeps and I really like this a lot. Surly Boy – well, he ate it, though it wouldn’t be anything he’d necessarily choose to eat again. He found the spice combination “weird” – which is understandable. Grow up with a midwestern Swede for a mom, and you’re bound to find middle eastern seasonings a little odd, don’t you think?
So, for the nerdy number stuff.
1 cup lentils: we picked up a 2-lb bag of lentils at Aldi a while back for something like $.99. Unless it was 88¢. But either way, we weighed out a cup, which was about 4 ounces – so 1 cup lentils = .25
1/2 cup rice (brown basmati): Here’s the thing. Technically, rice is a “pantry staple” in our house, like in most people’s houses, and brown basmati is the rice we use most often. And I actually don’t recall what we pay for it when we buy it at Sam’s Club, though I think it’s in the neighborhood of $1.50 or $2.00 a pound. Anyway, in the spirit of the game, I’ll assume 1 cup of rice weighs about 6 ounces, and at $2.00 a pound, that’s, uh, 1/2 cup brown basmati rice = .36
1 onion: Again, we usually buy the onions at the public market, either a basket for a buck (seriously!) or a 10 lb. bag for $3-$4. However, again, for the sake of the game, let’s call the onion one of, say, 4 in a basket. So 1 diced onion = .25
As for the olive oil, salt, cinnamon, and cumin, well, those really are pantry staples – we probably have the best-stocked spice cupboard in the county!
Oh, I almost forgot – the chicken broth: I picked up two quart boxes of stock for $1.29 each – and we used 6 cups, or one and half boxes. So 6 cups chicken broth = $1.93
So at this point, we have a grand total of $2.79
Let’s add in the small loaf of sourdough bread – the sourdough basically costs us nothing but a bit of salt and some flour – one loaf sourdough = .66
And then we each had a glass of milk with dinner. Three glasses milk = .84
OK, so we had $7.50 to work with for dinner for 3.
Dinner, with bread and a beverage totaled $4.29!
Plus there are two lunch-sized servings left over.
Suh-weet! I have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer for dessert – I picked it up on sale for $3.00, and we’ll only eat 3/4 of the pint which amounts to $2.25 – so even with dessert, we’re at $6.54, well under the $7.50 threshold.