Frugal Cooking From a Non-Cook
Second Experiment: Blasting 3 Myths
Lentils, Sausage & Rice Experiment
Here I am again, trying another experiment with food. Sasha said he was THIS CLOSE to throwing out the lentils because:
- he thought they were really old
- they stayed hard when he cooked them
- he always thought you needed ham to cook with them
I set out to prove him wrong.
These lentils were relatively new. When you count every penny coming in or out, you can see when you last bought something. In our case, both the yellow lentils and the split peas were bought in April 2017. The yellow lentils were $0.68 a pound back then, and as we used one cup, that would be $0.34 (half a pound equals 8 ounces which equals a cup).
The split peas cost more, $0.72 a pound, again only one cup, so $0.36. Both were less than seven months old, so again, that should not be a problem. However, if you look at the below picture, you will notice something else…
This picture was taken in November, when I made the recipe. Sometimes it makes sense to not buy all of your products at the same time, and to know what the lowest price can be…
However, this time, I do not have package directions as we bought both of these items in the bulk aisle. I suppose I could have looked up online, but my internet has been a little wonky, and so I decide to use past experiences instead.
We are staying in Northern Las Vegas, at 2500 feet elevation. While it is not the top of a mountain, it is not at sea level either. This means that the cooking times might be shorter for those at sea level but for us we had 15 hours on low and 3 hours on high with the crockpot. I soaked the lentils and peas for 8 hours before cooking. This is not a quick experiment.
Just like my Pinto Beans and Rice Experiment, I soaked the lentils and peas all day. They definitely expanded when I rinsed them off. But they were not soft.
Two cups of lentils/peas with four (4) cups of warm water back into the crockpot on low. All of the other ingredients, except the rice, went into the crockpot too. The sausages were frozen, and Sasha and I discussed whether to put three or four in. He thought it better to have four…Since he is the chef of the family, I went with four.
Sometime in the early morning hours (early for us of course, as we are the Crack of Noon Club founders ) I smelled the soup and got up.
I was afraid something was wrong with the soup. When I opened the lid and tested the lentils, they were still hard. OH NO…Sasha was right and now we would have to eat hard lentil soup!!!!
Thankfully, the sausages were cooked, so I took each one out and cut into four pieces. Each piece would be about one to two ounces depending on my cutting skills. I put the sausages back in, mixed the experiment, and put the temperature on high. I then went back to sleep.
Amazingly, Sasha woke up before me that morning. He looked at the experiment, and saw the temperature on high, and that the sausages were cut up. I bet he was wondering when I had done this!
When I got up at 9:30 am, the high temp had been on for 2.5 hours. I told Sasha that when I had put everything but the rice in last night, the lentils were still hard. However, by turning the temperature to high that morning, the lentils and peas had softened and turned to mush!!!
I kept it on high for another half hour just to keep it going. Having the mixture on high had worked! Sasha was amazed! Second lesson, lentils and split peas need high heat to turn to mush. In our case it was 3 hours but those at sea level might find they need less time.
At 10 am, I turned the heat to low. We discussed our eating options. The rice would take at least 60 minutes to cook. Did we want to have this at lunchtime or have an early dinner?
We decided on an early dinner as we had a bunch of chores and errands to do while the sun was shining. I reheated a batch of oatmeal (this is one recipe I can do well, making oatmeal…that will be another post someday) and we had breakfast. The crockpot was emitting wonderful aromas every time you opened the lid.
We decided on a 4 pm dinner. I set the kitchen timer to 90 minutes, as you cannot go over 99 minutes on the timer, and we went on our merry way to do chores and errands.
When the alarm sounded an hour and a half later, I was like, WHAT, oh, yeah. I stirred the mixture and set it for another 90 minutes on the timer. Then I went back to my chores.
Sasha came back from doing his errands and said he was hungry. Dang, the oatmeal was only a 3.5-hour fulfillment. Maybe the aromas were making us hungry, who knows?
I put in the one cup of rice and one cup of warm water. We figured adding water was a good idea. Normally, your equation is 1 Cup rice to 2 Cups water, but the mixture still had some liquid in it, so we figured this was good.
I put the time on 60 minutes. I added another 15 minutes when I found the rice had not softened enough.
The third lesson came as we were eating the experiment. The rice was soft, the lentils/peas were mush, and the sausage was starting to burst its seams. You do not need ham to make your lentil soup, especially if you use chicken stock. The reason many equate ham with lentils, I think, is the salt factor. You could make this vegetarian if you use vegetable stock and some celery. We will have to do another experiment with that combination.
Recipe Costs $ and Calories
- 4 Hot Louisiana Sausage Links from a pack of 20 sausages bought at WinCo for $9.24 for five pounds. Each link was 3.5 ounces, and each serving was a half a link. For our recipe, $3.08 for 14 ounces, and $0.385 per serving. Each serving had 403 calories.
- 1 Cup dried split peas = 8 ounces which is half a pound. One pound of split peas cost $0.72 so half is $0.36. Per Serving is $0.05 and calories per serving are 84.
- 1 Cup dried lentils = 8 ounces which is half a pound. One pound of lentils cost $0.68 so half is $0.34. Per Serving is $0.04 and calories per serving are 19.
- 1 Tablespoon Chicken Stock. Very Well, the software I used for the recipe, stated they did not know the true amount and therefore I went with one packet. Therefore, this might be more calories. 8 calories for the entire recipe, so 1 calorie for a serving. Bought last year or the year before, do not have a price for it.
- 1 Red Onion, cut in big chunks. We bought one onion a couple of days ago, and it cost $0.50. Divide by 8 and it is $0.06 per serving. The red coloring was completely gone. The calories per serving is 6.
- 1 Cup Rice, with 1 Cup water. 1 C = 8 ounces = 0.5 pounds. 1 pound of rice is $0.59 so a cup is $0.30 rounded up. Divide by 8 and it is $0.04 a serving. Rice per serving is 86 calories.
- 3 Large Carrots, thick chunks. We bought five pounds of carrots to snack on and since they were already peeled and sliced, I just added them to the mixture. The 5-pound bag of carrots was $1.98, we figured we used 0.25 pounds or four ounces, so $0.08 for the mixture, or $0.01 a serving. There are only 11 calories in one serving of carrots.
- 3 hours at 210 watts per hour with 11 cents per Kilowatt = $0.07. Therefore, per serving is less than a penny.
- 15 hours at 135 watts per hour with 11 cents per Kilowatt = $0.22 which would be $0.03 per serving.
Total price and calories: $4.95 for the mixture and $0.62 per serving. The per serving calorie intake is 609.
For the Calories, I used a great website called VeryWell.com.
It does not show the ingredients which is annoying to me. But You can see them above the picture. I did not have any pictures of my experiment, because we ate it too quickly. Just goes to show you that even a Non-Cook can make something tasty.
As you may know, I am not a cook at all. Making food is more of experiments and challenges. Yet this experiment gave me some great accolades from Sasha, with Fabulous and Great Job and Spot On were some of the best.
The fullness factor was pretty good, but we both had two servings. I could have also cut the sausages a little more, to spread out the meat. Next time I do this experiment, I will do a few differences, 1) go down to three sausages and really cut them up, and 2) try without meat and chicken stock, but go with vegetable stock and celery.
Do you have any other suggestions that you think I should try?