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
- 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.