Friday, 4 October 2013

Budget Vegetarian Lentil Shepherd's Pie

I’ve been writing a little on how Hubby and I are working to cut back on our grocery bill. One thing that we have done is cut out meat twice a week in our lives! Why you ask?

For me, this wasn’t difficult. I went down the whole organic/vegetarian route for a little while just after high school and actually for the most part I enjoyed it! For Hubby, it’s an easy way to save a few bucks and he knows I will still provide meals that fulfill him!

We eat leftovers many days a week for lunch so some days we are eating meat twice a day even! So....two meatless dinners a week. No problem!

I needed to get creative though! We didn’t want to eat scrambled eggs and omelets all the time! ;-) Though we do eat that a lot....I needed something more. So I started rummaging around the internet. Google...you’ve got a friend in me!


One ingredient that kept popping up was lentils. Now, call me strange if you will, but I’ve actually never before cooked with them! I’ve seen....heard about them...even checked them out a couple times and then kindly replaced them to the shelf they were on while continuing to the other shopping.

With a little encouragement and a great deal of curiosity, I decided we’d easy into it. I found a few ideas for shepherd’s pie. I thought this would be a good idea. It is something we enjoy and are familiar with. So it should be a fairly simple transition!

I cooked it Monday night and peeps, it was a hit! LJ ate himself crazy....although the next morning I clearly saw he swallowed more than he chewed! Liam finished his plate...after devouring all of the olives from everyone’s salads (what two year old eats kalamata olives...with the pits still in? Apparently mine!) And Hubby....Hubby went back for seconds!

I fed all of us dinner with Hubby having seconds and...AND there was enough for us to eat lunch the next day. Portions just as big as our dinner!

Including the salad I made on the side, dinner cost us approximately R25 (that is including staple items already in the house incase you read Monday/Wednesdays posts!).

R25 ($2.47 depending on exchange rate variation)! And we got  5 portions! R5 per plate! That is amazing! I was super excited about this meal and just had to share it with you!

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Ingredients:

250ml dry lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
Gravy mix of choice
1 cup frozen veggies
6 medium potatoes
1 cup grated cheese

Instructions:

1)    Place lentils in pot with water and bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, approximately 7 minutes, turn down to simmer. Simmer until fully cooked, but not mushy. About 30 minutes.
2)    Peel and chop potatoes loosely and place in a pot with boiling water. Boil until soft. Prepare mashed potatoes as desired. (If you are unsure how best, email me at shanamom2 {@} gmail {dot} com and I’ll share with you my Granny’s famous garlic mash!}
3)    Prepare frozen veggies (steam, boil in water, microwave...however you prefer!)
4)    Once lentils are finished, remove from heat. Fry onions in a small amount of oil and once browned add lentils. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs as desired. Fry on medium heat until lentil/onion mix is evenly coated with herbs. I used about 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp Italian herbs. The rosemary in the Italian herbs blended so well with the taste of the lentils!
5)    Add veggies and mix well.
6)    Place lentil/veggie mix in the bottom of a baking pan. A 9” x 5” pan worked perfect for us!
7)    To make the gravy, I use KNORR soup packets. However, you can use whatever is available to you...or what you prefer! I drained my mixed veggies as I boiled them and kept ½ cup of the water. I poured that ½ cup into the skillet where I had fried the onions and lentils to soak up flavor and turned it back on high. I used 2 tsp White Onion Soup and 1 tsp Chili Beef & Vegetable Soup along with 2 tsp cornflour (powdered cornstarch) for thickening. Mix well in 1 cup cold water and add to skillet. Stir continuously until thickened.
8)    Pour gravy over lentils. Use a fork to lift sections to allow the gravy to work through. You can alternatively mix in a separate bowl and then put in your dish.
9)    Spread mash evenly over the top of your mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
10) Bake at 180°C until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

I am not a professional! And I don’t measure everything perfectly. I tend to just throw things together but keep a loose track of what I’m doing. This is the basic steps to what I did. Do you like mixed peppers? Try frying some up with the onions...or perhaps some mushrooms! Do you like instant gravy that you open into boiling water and mix? Great...if you have a favorite use it! Or maybe you have some of your grandmas leftover gravy from Sunday dinner!

There are so many variations! Next time, Hubby and I want to try frying some finely diced celery and minced garlic with the onions! As it’s getting to be colder in America....perhaps try some diced squash with the veggies!


I encourage you to be creative with this! And please, let me know how it turned out!

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XOXxx

Shana Danae..

4 comments:

  1. I wonder if I could get D to go for this? The kids won't - they have tried lentils and hate them!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Definitely try and have the kids give it a go again too! Lil Mister hated eggs forever and then strangely out of no where....the last two times I made eggs...he ate them! ;-)
    It really was a good meal! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been adding two vegetarian dishes/per week to our menu. I want to increase it to three. I'll have to try this one out. Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's a pleasure! It's actually surprisingly filling! I was impressed! Yea...I feel we eat way too much meat!

    ReplyDelete

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