A week’s worth of frugal lunches

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Picture taken before adding spinach – forgot to take one after!

When I’m at work, I take soup, bread, an apple and a banana in almost every day. I normally make my lunches on Sundays, but I was off work on Monday and so used my afternoon then to make curried lentil and tomato soup and a loaf of brown bread.

Whenever I make soup I just chuck in the ingredients I have on hand, so don’t take the recipe as gospel – soup is endlessly customisable. I’ve never tried this combination of ingredients before but thought it worked very well.

Curried lentil and tomato soup (makes 5 lunch portions)

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  • 150g red split lentils 30p
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes 31p
  • 1/2 bag spinach leaves 65p
  • 2 small onions, chopped 6p
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (makes a mild soup – increase for a stronger flavour) 5p
  • 1 big clove garlic 3p
  • 1 big lump fresh ginger 5p
  • Pinch turmeric 2p
  • Vegetable stock 12p (I used 1 1/2 oxo cubes)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 6p

Heat the oil in the saucepan and gently fry the onions for a few minutes until soft. For the last minute, add the garlic and ginger.

Add the chopped tomatoes, lentils, stock, turmeric and curry powder. Simmer away for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft and mushy. Add the spinach and stir though until wilted.

33p per portion – serve with home made bread.  I gave Mr Chilli a big mugful for lunch then froze the rest in four freezer tubs for my lunches this week.

Variations – peas work well instead of spinach, or you can add in other veg such as sweet potato, carrot, celery or even diced potatoes for a heavier soup. Try different curry powder mixes or combinations of spices.

Brown bread

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I use this recipe from the Guardian, slightly adapted, and make it almost every week. I do have a bread maker but don’t tend to use it unless I’m really busy, because I actually really enjoy making bread by hand and prefer the results, too.

I usually use 2 tsp yeast, but forgot this time and only put 1 in. Have to say it turned out much the same as normal, maybe very slightly smaller, but just as delicious, so I think I’ll continue only using one.

  • 400g strong brown flour 34p
  • 50g strong white flour 3p
  • 1 tsp easy blend yeast 7p
  • 1 tsp salt (less than 1/2p)
  • 3 tsp sugar 2p
  • 50g butter, melted (optional) 20p

Mix the flours, yeast, salt and sugar and pour in around 200ml hand hot water. Mix and add the butter and a little more water to make a dough that sticks together. The exact amount varies each time but I normally need around another 100ml.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes – the longer you knead, the nicer your bread will be.

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Leave to rise on the floured surface with the mixing bowl inverted over it until doubled in size (1-2 hours), squash into a rough rectangle the same width as your loaf tin (you need a 900g tin), and roll into a sausage shape.  Pop it in the tin and leave, covered to rise again for another hour and a half.

Preheat the oven to 220C and bake for 20 minutes, turning down the heat to 200C and baking for another 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool before slicing.

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66p loaf, or less than 5p per slice when sliced into 14.  The slices are small, but each slice is more filling than a slice of shop-bought because it isn’t pumped through with air, so you don’t need to eat more to compensate for the size.  If you won’t eat this the same day, I suggest freezing as homemade bread goes stale and dry very quickly.  I slice and freeze the whole thing as soon as it’s cooled, in little bags of two to take in each day for lunch.

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6 thoughts on “A week’s worth of frugal lunches

  1. Pingback: Six ways to get more fruit and veg into your diet | Chilli, Sage and Lemon

  2. Pingback: Mealplan and spending update 05/05/13 (plus really cheap soup recipe) | Chilli, Sage and Lemon

  3. Pingback: A slightly fancier lentil and tomato soup recipe | Chilli, Sage and Lemon

  4. Pingback: Poppy-seed bagels | Chilli, Sage and Lemon

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