Cheap weekday eats: Lentil, quinoa and vegetable stew

This may not be the most attractive of meals, but it tastes good (I promise!), is a one-pot wonder, and is extremely economical to make. Hubby told me it resembled the gruel eaten in The Matrix (I have to laugh at and ‘pay’ a good insult!) but after having a mouthful decided to make himself up a bowl – victory!


We’re selling our house, so apart from being on a shoestring budget, I’m also trying to clear out everything from our pantry, freezer and the garden. The only ingredient I bought was the sour cream, and everything else came from our stores.


  • 375g bag of red lentils, rinsed
  • Royal tri-colour quinoa (I had about a cup in the cupboard)
  • 4 tbsp chana dhal masala spice mix (I buy mine from an Indian grocer and it contains coriander, salt, red chilli, turmeric, onion flakes, dry ginger, cassia, cumin, garlic flakes, gloves, nutmeg, mace and asafoetida)
  • Bag of frozen vegetables (I had Heinz Shanghai Stir Fry mix, 500g, but any would do)
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • About 10 whole black peppercorns
  • A large pinch of Himalayan salt
  • A few lemons (to serve)
  • Extra light sour cream (to serve)


This was the most simple meal to make – I literally threw everything in together and left it alone to cook itself!

  • Use a large, reasonably heavy-bottomed pot and fill it with a really decent amount of water
  • Add in the lentils, spice mix, peppercorns and salt
  • Once the lentils are about half way cooked, add in the quinoa
  • Reduce the heat, add a lid, and let the mix condense somewhat
  • After a time (I added them too soon) add in the frozen veggies
  • When it’s nearly done, chuck in the peas
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a wedge of lemon. This is essential – it prevents the mix from being too stodgy.

This makes at least 10 serves, probably more, and will give us work lunches for the next week or so. If you leave out the sour cream it’s a vegetarian meal.

Lentils are a good source of protein, folate, fibre, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, vit B1, vit B5, vit B6, zinc and potassium. The quinoa component is a source of quality complete protein (something that’s hard for pescatarians to get, unless they eat a lot of fish or eggs, which I don’t), dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium. Both are low-GI and are therefore good sources of slow-burning energy. There are so many spices that I won’t list their benefits, except to say that herbs / spices in general have antioxidant and other health properties. Finally, the fresh lemon is a handy source of vitamin C.

It won’t win any beauty prizes, but it sure is tasty!


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