Money, Money, Money: Revolution Roadblock #2

by Maile on September 4, 2010

A big thanks to all of you out there who decided to get involved in the charity:water project that was introduced on Tuesday; it feels pretty great when we get to be a part of something bigger than ourselves by helping people other than ourselves. Please pass on the word and let’s reach that goal!!

Today, I’m back on my old soap box again. When attempting a Food Revolution (like I am) you have to be aware of the hindrances that keep something like this from really taking off. A couple weeks ago I tackled the issue of time aka Revolution Roadblock #1.

I think the next biggest obstacle will probably ring true for quite a few of you out there; I know it does for me. I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a writer and we have four little babes, so we aren’t exactly rolling in the old greenbacks.

I appreciate the fact that buying organic or even fresh fruit and veggies isn’t always (most times, never) the most budget-friendly choice. The truth is, I don’t ALWAYS buy organic. I buy it when I can. I basically have a hierarchy system to help me figure out what and when I should buy organic, which I will share with you tomorrow.

But while I am acutely aware of the challenges a strict budget can present when trying to feed your family a healthy diet, I by no means think it is impossible. Last week I had a pathetically small grocery budget to work with because I had a few too many splurges in the middle of the month which left me with very little for the end of the month. I kind of have a habit of doing this.
Honestly, though, I kind of like the challenge. There’s something really satisfying in knowing that I’ve fed a family of 6 with less than $5 worth of ingredients. Okay, I don’t want to do this every night, but occasionally it is kind of fun. And below is most definitely one of my favorite budget-friendly meals of all time for these reasons, in no particular order:

1. Because it’s got an Indian flair to it, and I absolutely adore Indian food. I could honestly eat it every day for every meal, and that’s no where close to being an exaggeration. Just ask my husband.

2. I made this recipe last Wednesday afternoon while my kids were spending a couple hours at their grandparents’ house. When my son walked in the door at dinnertime, he shouted, “It smells AMAZING in here!”

3. It tastes even better than it smells. My kids, ages 1 to 7, all loved it and cleaned their bowls. Since there were no leftovers to scavenge, I had to eat a second bowl myself. Oh, darn.

4. It’s vegetarian, so it’s easy on my conscience and my pocketbook.

With no further ado:

Indian Lentils and Rice

1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger (Don’t try and use ground ginger in this and think you’re going to get away with it. A little knob of fresh ginger from the produce aisle will cost you about a quarter. I think you can splurge.)
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
4 c. water
1 ½ c. dried red lentils (You can find these in the Hispanic section of your supermarket. If you’ve never used lentils before and you have a tight food budget, may I introduce you to your new best friend.)
1 c. chopped fresh tomato (The other day when I made this, I didn’t have any tomatoes so I just used 1 1/2 c. tomato sauce and reduced the water to 3 cups. Worked beautifully so consider that as an option.)
1 tsp. salt
¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
3 c. freshly cooked rice

My kids are a little nutso about their food having a smooth texture, so I just go ahead and whiz the onion, ginger, and garlic together in the food processor. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, ginger, and garlic and saute for a couple minutes, just to soften. Then add the curry powder and cumin. Stir that around in the pan for about 30 seconds, just to get the spices nice and toasted. Add the water, lentils, tomato, and salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Add the chopped cilantro, pile on top of the rice, and you are ready to tuck in.

This recipe will usually feed my entire family for dinner and have enough leftovers for me to sneak in the next afternoon and scarf the rest down for lunch before my husband catches wind of my devilry. Hee, hee.

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