The destitution diet: The perfect lentil soup

lentil-soup.jpgI'm not sure if ya'll have noticed, but the economy is apparently going down the pooper. Things are crazy expensive these days, especially food. Now, I'm probably not as hard hit as some, because I don't have a car and am not handing over wee fistfuls of cash to the nice men at the gas pumps every week. But alack, I'm feeling the pinch in my own over-priced New Yorkery sort of way. I'm starting to react accordingly and have been cutting back on clothes and entertainment and even on certain food items. There are certain things that I will forever buy that are stupidly expensive like organic milk and whole-grain bread from local bakeries.

We've got the real reason why healthy foods cost so much.

There's a very decent portion of my brain (the part that still thinks keg stands are good times) that would like to justify ramen soup as a reasonable meal substitute in this time of financial hardship, but there's also the extremely rational part of my brain that wants me to eat things with nutrients. To the shame of my mother, I will never be the kind of person that knows what a "good price" for a pound of apples is, but I am on a mission to eat healthy on a shoe-string budget nonetheless.

I'm calling it the Destitution Diet, and if it becomes wildly popular and I make a bajillion dollars, I will dedicate it to all of you here at Elastic Waist. In the mean time, my lesson for this week in cost cutting is dried beans. Cans are easier, but dried beans cost cents! Cents! Nothing costs cents. This week in an effort to keep my lunch for the week under $5 (for the whole week) I made lentil soup. Lentils are easier because they don't require soaking--a low-maintenance legume!

Get hooked on cooking! Use these simple tricks to fix diet-friendly fare that's faster than delivery.

If you can find a bag of lentils and some bullion you're in business; here's my less-than-a-dollar-a-day soup for this week:

Destitution Diet Lentil Soup

2 cups of lentils
6 cups of water
1.5 vegetable bullion cubes (1 cube = 4 cups)
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 small or 2 large tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 can of beer (okay the beer isn't imperative, but I was drinking one, then lost interest and instead of wasting it, threw the remainder into the pot.)

Sauté onion, carrot and celery until soft and pretty looking. Heat up six cups of water and add bullion until it is obviously dissolved. Add lentils, sautéed veggies and diced tomatoes to pot. Drink a beer, add some to soup, or not. Add seasoning. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft (approx. 40 mins.)

I feel hearty and healthy and peasant-like, and like there's still money left in my wallet, which is awesome. If you have suggestions on how I can eat healthy on an itty-bitty eating budget, write them in, they may just be next weeks destitution diet tip.

Related:12 ways to save money on your grocery bill without resorting to eating spam