Potluck Lentils

January 20th, 2014 | Posted by Alison Spath in Party Time

I’ve blogged about this recipe before (it’s one of my favorites!) but today we’re going to talk about the cost break down of this giant pot of Coconut Curried Red Lentil Chili.

I made this yesterday to take to a winter (indoor!) picnic with a bunch of our homeschooling friends.  This is one of my go-to potluck meals because it’s inexpensive, it’s “something different” while also being delicious and healthy.  All of my favorite adjectives in one big pot!  Another reason I like this chili for a potluck is because it’s a good option for people with dietary restrictions – it’s gluten free, nut free and made without any animal products for our vegetarian and vegan friends.

Potluck Lentils

Lentils are #6 on the affordable healthy foods list, they are a good source of protein, fiber and iron.  They are kind of high in carbs, but their glycemic index is fairly low so they won’t spike your blood sugar like other high carb foods can.  While doing a little bit reading to write this post, I learned that lentils that don’t contain sulfur (like beans) so they don’t produce gas.  Talk about the perfect party food!  Eat up everybody, no worries about offending anyone with fun sounds or smells a few hours after your meal!  (Except for some potential garlic breath?  Good thing cooked garlic is a little more forgiving.)

There are many varieties of lentils and of any that I’ve ever tried, red are my favorite – for their texture, taste and for how quickly they cook.

When it comes to price, lentils are pretty affordable.  I paid $1.99 for a 1 lb bag of Goya red lentils and if I cook the whole bag to make a giant pot of chili for just my family, it easily makes 3 or 4 meals between dinner and leftovers for multiple lunches – all for very little cost!

Cost Breakdown of Coconut Curried Red Lentil Chili

(printable version of this recipe is here)

$2.00 1 lb of red lentils
$1.69 14 oz can coconut milk
$3.00 28 oz can of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes
$1.00 red bell pepper

This big pot rounds up to about $8 bucks – but I should also point out that my pantry was already stocked with garlic, onions, Indian spices and coconut oil*, so the price for these items seems incidental to me.  This is why I rounded up to “about $8” from $7.69.

If you need to buy those pantry staples, then it will obviously raise the cost to make those investments.  Also know this is still very good without the coconut milk – you can leave it out and just make “Red Lentil Chili” or replace the red pepper for some diced carrots (or just leave out an added vegetable all together) to bring the cost down as well.

*I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I buy coconut oil in bulk through Amazon Grocery because it’s cheaper per ounce than it is at any brick and mortar store around here (with the possible exception of Trader Joe’s).

The spice combo I used this time was cumin, garam marsala and turmeric.  If you don’t have any Indian spices and had to pick just one, I would suggest cumin.  Curry powder is another good way to go (but $4-5 a jar) for an easy way to get that Indian flavor all in one heaping tablespoon.  I often buy Indian spices in bulk packages to save some money too.

I took this straight to the party in the pot because I knew there would be a stove available to keep it warm, but other times I have transferred this to the crock pot and put on “low” to keep it warm until it’s time to eat.

Potluck Lentils

This chili was a hit!  Only a small amount remained in the pot by the time we were packing up our things and getting ready to go.

Love lentils?  Love potlucks?  Give me whatchya got!

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6 Responses

  • Courtney says:

    And a great winter food too! Thanks for the healthy recipes.

    I’ve been focusing on healthy vegetables to add to my diet and pulled out my juicer again. I have been thinking about a small juice fast and thought of your husband. How is he doing, post juice fast, if I may ask? Did he have any trouble keeping the weight off?

    Thanks for your recipes and humor.

    • Hey Courtney, Zak did gain some weight back after the juice fast in the spring. I had to go back and look… his lowest weight was 162, he gained some weight over the summer and fall, he’s been hanging out in the low to mid-170’s for a quiet a while now though. He looks and feels really good, so while he did gain some back, he kept at least 20 lbs off and seems to have settled into a healthy weight. He exercises very sporadically, and when he keeps sugar and grain intake to a minimum he seems to have no trouble maintaining his weight.

      We haven’t juiced in a while either, I’ve been on a green smoothie kick for a little while here… it’s actually the topic of my next post. I love the way juicing helps to get more veggies in, whatever works! :)

      • Courtney says:

        Thanks for the update. I’m glad to hear he is still doing well. I know it is so hard to keep off weight. It is motivating to hear of someone else’s success. Congratulations to him.

  • Annie says:

    You had me at “curry”!!!
    I was introduced to Thai food in October and have been craving curry ever since!

    I am so grateful you are posting your budget food items because i am learning to cook healthier on a super tightt budget.

    After new years i went and treated myself to a re stock of rice, beans, flours, and the like. I mean 20 lb bags!!! So when u said “lentils” i got excited… Lentils and curry…. Yup… Made it for lunch.

    I dont have the red lentils, but it is still great!
    I topped it with a dollup of full fat plain greek yogurt too so BONUS!!

  • Del says:

    Going to be making this for lunch !

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