I have been on an ongoing mission to reduce the amount of money we spend on food. For a family of three, we spend a reeeeediculous amount on our weekly groceries. I always justify it by telling myself that we don’t spend much on entertainment or other extras and that healthy food is worth the cost, but for real: you can eat healthy on a budget.
This recipe for Lentil Sloppy Joes is the kind of budget-friendly recipe that relies mostly on ingredients you probably have on hand in the pantry already. And the star of the recipe is the humble lentil, a vegetarian protein source that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. An average 1 pound bag is about $1.50 and you get 14 servings out of it–and each serving has 8 grams of protein. Score!
It’s also a great recipe to double and freeze for later. (Yes, I am all about freezer cooking–it’s another great way to eat healthy and save money!) And did I mention that, like traditional sloppy joes, it’s totally kid-friendly too? Because: yes! It is! It’s got the same sweet, slightly tangy flavor as the original, minus the meat.
Bake up a batch of sweet potato fries to serve on the side and you have a well-rounded meal that doesn’t break the budget.
Photos by Lindsey Johnson
Lentil Sloppy Joes
You probably have most of the ingredients for these Lentil Sloppy Joes in your pantry already. Hooray for cheap, healthy dinners!
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup brown or green lentils rinsed and picked over
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4-6 hamburger buns
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the lentils and broth. Bring the lentils to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to low.
Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed and the lentils are tender enough to eat, but still firm enough to hold their shape.
Stir in the tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, tamari, mustard powder, garlic, and cayenne. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a slow boil.
Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes more, stirring frequently.
Divide the lentil mixture onto the hamburger buns and serve. Leftovers will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.