Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pulse Power (Part One)

Split Yellow Pea and Rhubarb Curry with rice and Rhubarb Pear Chutney

Meat and alternative products can be costly.  Supplementing them at mealtimes with pulses is good for the purse, health and planet.  They are a good source of protein, so there is no need to worry about replacing chunks of animal protein with these "vegetables".

Easy Cowboy Beans
You could, of course, as I have often heard people advise, just throw red lentils into everything willy-nilly:  I am sure it will make a cheap filling and healthy meal.... but don't you sometimes want something a bit different to the usual lentil-heavy chilli? And what if the family just won't go for the new mealy woolly bolognese?  In Part Two I will post ideas about what to combine for interesting, tasty and easy family meals.

But for now... what if, like me, you have noticed the hiking cost of red lentils which were pennies only a handful of years go...?

Cheaper Tinned Pulses:
If you currently buy tinned, check out the world or ethnic food aisles as brands they are often cheaper there than the supermarket's own brand:  this is also true of tinned vegetables and spices. You could also try buying economy brand baked beans and rinse off the sauce rather than the much more expensive tinned cannellini beans.

Quick Soak/Cook Dried Pulses:
Dried pulses are so much cheaper than tinned but if you feel overburdened by all of the soaking or find yourself forgetting to put them out to soak the previous night try the quick cook method:  Cover the pulses in water and bring to the boil; boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, put on a  lid and leave to soak for an hour; drain off the soaking liquid once done. Cook in fresh water according to the pulse you want, they will mostly all take about an hour and a half on the stove/hob, or around 5 hours on high in the slow cooker (but please check the packaging to make sure of correct times for safety.)

No Soak/Quickest Cook Pulses:
Red and green lentils are perfect for this. Cooking them on the hob will take 20 minutes for red, or 40 minutes for green lentils; no pre-soaking required.

Cheapest Pulses (and Pretty Quick Cooking with it!): 
Now although split peas aren't as quick cooking as lentils, they are not far off at around 40-50 minutes with no soaking; and for the extra few minutes, the savings are definitely worth it.  Yellow and green split peas are still good sources of protein, add flavoursome bite to your meals, and are £1.28 per kilo to the lentils' £1.50-£2.30 per kilo for red and £2.00 for green (*Asda 29/11/15) 

Look out for Part Two with ideas on bringing pulses into your diet and making that pack of sausages etc go further!

Feel free to add your own ideas for making pulses hassle-free in the comments!

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