How far can $20 get you?
It seems like the answer is “not far” these days, but I’m really trying to be budget-smart these days. Budget-smart while still being health-smart, so I’m exploring different ways to make my grocery budget go further.
One way: shop smart. I almost never buy my produce, specifically, at the grocery store. I prefer to spend my money at small, locally owned produce stores. I find that, overall, the prices are cheaper, the produce is fresher, and often more local. Those are all things that make me feel good.
This is how far it got me.
Not bad, eh?
Out of what I bought, I’ve so far created a cocktail recipe, an appetizer (both of which I will share with you soon), and this wonderful, warming, fall stew.
One way to save money on your groceries is to eat vegetarian, or, alternatively, to make dishes that stretch a small piece of meat a long way, like in a stew or a cassoulet.
This recipe uses lentils as the protein, instead of meat. It’s very filling, and lentils (which are a Canadian product–yay! more local!) are full of fibre, protein and iron.
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2″ knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste or tomato paste (or both!)
- 1 chile, de-seeded and de-veined, chopped small
- 2-3 cups vegetable stock (canned or homemade)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 small sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 3/4 cup beluga lentils–rinsed (you can sub any kind of lentils)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro and a quartered limes
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat them out for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile and spices, and stir well, to coat everything. Allow the spices to cook out for 2-5 minutes. This helps release the oils of the spices.
- Next, add in the sweet potatoes and the carrots, and stir them well, again to allow them to be coated with the spices and to start to caramelize. Give them 5-10 minutes to hang out, adding additional oil if they are sticking to the pan.
- Add the lentils, tamarind paste, and 1.5 cups of stock, all at once. The stock should cover the ingredients in the pan. Add the bay leaf and stir well. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, and checking to see if the pot is going dry. If it is going dry, add additional stock. The lentils and vegetables will absorb the stock. Continue checking, stirring, and adding stock if needed, until the lentils and vegetables are tender, and the whole has thickened to make a saucy stew. This should not take more than hour. If your stew is too liquidy, remove a ladle full and puree it in the blender and then return it to the pot. This will help to thicken.
- To serve: ladle into a bowl, and top with chopped cilantro and squeeze of lime.