Save money cooking lentil sloppy joes, toad in the hole, nasi goreng

By on August 9, 2015

Author Emily Wight has long practised frugality, developing cost-effective and easy dishes over time which she shares in “Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens.”

Many of her recipes are Asian-inspired, a reflection of the diverse inhabitants of east Vancouver where she lives.

“I’m just well served by Asian markets. There’s a Korean grocer down the street where I buy great tofu, I get kimchee, I get condiments and things and I don’t have to spend a lot,” she says.

“For me, that’s a very cost-effective way to eat because the ingredients aren’t generally very expensive and if you can avoid buying the grocery store version of those ingredients then you can save a lot of money.”

Here are some recipes from the book to try at home:


Lentil Sloppy Joe (Shutterstock)
Lentil Sloppy Joe (Shutterstock)

This recipe can feed four or you can have four separate meals for yourself, Wight says.

250 ml (1 cup) dried green, brown or French lentils
1 bay leaf
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 small onion
60 ml (4 tbsp) olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
250 g (1/2 lb) mushrooms, finely minced (or whizzed until almost pureed in a food processor or blender)
5 ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika
5 ml (1 tsp) ancho or other chili powder
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground mustard
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cumin
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground black pepper
2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried thyme
1 can (156 ml/5 1/2 oz) tomato paste
30 ml (2 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
15 ml (1 tbsp) honey
Salt, to taste

In a pot on medium heat, simmer lentils and bay leaf in 500 ml (2 cups) lightly salted water until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, then set aside. Discard bay leaf.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven, on high heat, saute celery, carrots and onion in olive oil until glistening, then cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove lid, add garlic and cook until mixture is caramelized and reduced by two-thirds, 15 to 20 minutes. The longer you cook this, the sweeter it will get.

Add mushrooms and cook until moisture has mostly dissipated and bottom of pan is dry.

Add spices, thyme and tomato paste, stir until combined, then add cooked lentils. Stir in 250 ml (1 cup) water with apple cider vinegar and honey. Cook until mix begins to bubble.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve open-faced over toasted hamburger buns.

Makes 4 servings.


Toad in a hole (Shutterstock)
Toad in the Hole (Shutterstock)

Wight grew up eating this dish, usually for dinner, which she describes as “basically Yorkshire pudding baked over sausages.” It also makes a hearty brunch.

For best results, start with eggs and milk at room temperature, so take them out of the refrigerator 20 minutes or so before you start cooking.

250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) milk or buttermilk, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
5 ml (1 tsp) grainy Dijon mustard
Pinch each salt and pepper
2 strips bacon, chopped
20 ml (2 tsp) butter
1 medium onion, sliced
500 g (1 lb) pork sausages, such as English bangers or bratwurst

Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, milk, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside.

In a cast-iron pan on medium-high heat, fry bacon. When cooked, remove from pan and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add butter to pan and let it melt. Add onion and saute until translucent with brown bits around their edges, about 3 minutes.

Add sausages and brown (it doesn’t matter if they are cooked through, but brown on all sides). Remove from pan and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Return bacon and sausages to pan. Pour batter over and bake for 25 minutes, until batter has puffed and turned golden. Slice and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


Nasi Goreng (Shutterstock)
Nasi Goreng (Shutterstock)

Wight says this dish is a family favourite of her husband Nick.

Serve hot, topped with a sprinkle of cilantro, some scallions and an egg fried over easy so that the edges of the white are crisp but the yolk is still runny. It’s great with cucumber salad and a spicy red wine.

6 to 9 garlic cloves, sliced
45 ml (3 tbsp) canola oil
1 shallot, roughly chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) sambal oelek
30 ml (2 tbsp) ketjap manis (or use 30 ml/2 tbsp soy sauce and 15 ml/1 tbsp brown sugar)
30 ml (2 tbsp) fish sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) sesame oil
10 ml (2 tsp) lime juice
3 ml (3/4 tsp) ground cumin
500 g (1 lb) lean ground beef
1.5 l (6 cups) cooked rice
500 ml (2 cups) grated carrots
1 kohlrabi or 2 to 3 broccoli stalks, peeled and grated
Salt, to taste
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground black pepper

1 fried egg per serving
1 sliced avocado, for garnish
Cilantro, for garnish
Chopped scallions, for garnish
Additional sambal oelek

In a large pan on medium-high heat, saute garlic in oil until golden and crispy but not burned (1 to 2 minutes — any longer and it will become too bitter). Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon, and drain garlic on a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, puree shallot with sambal oelek, ketjap manis, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and cumin. Set aside.

Add ground beef to garlic-infused cooking oil in hot pan. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until meat has browned and is cooked through. Add rice, carrots and kohlrabi.

Pour shallot mixture over pan contents and stir to coat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer. If rice appears dry, add 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm tap water to pan and stir.

Stir crispy garlic into rice mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: “Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens” by Emily Wight (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015).