The following is a guest post from Pauline Paquin, a French girl who blogs over at Reach Financial Independence. Born and raised in Paris, Pauline writes about how she has been traveling the world for the past 10 years, while trying to build wealth and achieve financial independence, and how you can follow your dreams and reach your goals too. You can follow Pauline on Twitter @RFIndependence.
I love stew for several reasons. Because it is a hot, hearty dish that is perfect for cold winter days. Because you can mix and match ingredients thousands of times and never eat the same recipe. Because it goes in the crockpot and you don’t really have to worry about it while it cooks slowly. And because it uses cheaper cuts of meat, making it an ideal frugal recipe.
Here is my simple recipe to make beef lentil stew. The ingredients listed below are the ingredients I used, but what you MUST have is
- A few cuts of beef for stew. The cheaper cuts with a bit of fat and bones will do perfectly.
- Lentils, if you like them, you could also replace with beans or garbanzo beans.
- Salt, pepper, oil and herbs to your taste.
- Any vegetables about to go bad in your fridge
I make it a point not to waste food and this recipe accommodates perfectly all the vegetables you may have in your fridge. Celery, leek, butternut squash or pumpkin would have fared pretty well. You just need to dice them in small pieces and throw all of them with the onions and garlic into a pot.
That red bag is frozen tomatoes that were blended with a little bit of olive oil. I do that when tomatoes are very ripe to avoid food waste. You can throw 3-4 tomatoes in your blender with one onion and a couple of garlic cloves to get that tomato preparation. No need to cook or fry it. It will save you some chopping time.
- 3 pieces of meat
- 1 carrot
- 3 potatoes
- ½ lb lentils
- 1 squash
- 1 zucchini
- 1 jalapeño chili
- 1 onion
- ½ garlic head
- 3-4 tomatoes
- Chop all your vegetables and keep the potatoes and zucchini for later, since they don't do well when overcooked.
- Add the meat, salt, pepper and herbs to your taste (on this one I added thyme and a bit of laurel). Add a couple of cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Then lower your heat and let it cook for an hour. After an hour, stir and add the potatoes and other vegetables that need less cooking, such as zucchinis. Let it cook for another half hour and you should have a delicious dinner ready!
- You know the meat is ready when it separates easily from the bone. It will harden at first and then soften with the slow heat. With high heat, you may not manage to soften the meat, this is a simple recipe, but not a quick one. It has to cook slowly.
- Leave the heat as low as possible once you have brought your stew to a boil, and check once in a while if all the water is gone, you may need to add some more. The lentils will double in size so make sure you have a big enough pot.
- If you cook everything in a crockpot, you can put all the vegetables together at once, and leave to cook for 6-8 hours.
This is a dish that will taste even better on the next day or after you leave it without heat for a few hours. If you plan on freezing portions, most vegetables do great but you may want to avoid potatoes, they get very watery when they thaw.
That’s it, bon appétit!
For other frugal recipes such as homemade pizza, or sushi visit Reach Financial Independence!
Do you make stews in the slow cooker? What is your favorite stew recipe?