Friday, March 23, 2012

Lentils with vegetables - contingency meal planning

1 cup red lentils
1 onion
1 carrot
1 broccoli
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Probably one of the biggest challenges of regularly cooking at home is planning ahead. You know from experience, if you wait for a sudden 6pm inspiration to decide what to make for dinner, you are as good as lost. I've tried the whole being spontaneous routine. It usually includes heading over to the supermarket crowded with other desperate after-work shoppers, frantically grabbing things (and it is a law of nature that I will not remember the milk for tomorrow's breakfast!) and getting into hyper stress mode in the endless check out line. Back home, I am already starving which translates into a level of grumpiness you don't even want to imagine...

On this very topic, I've read a useful blog entry over at Dinner a Love Story about planning ahead for your dinners, which I highly recommend having a look at by the way, detailing how to go about setting realistic goals and letting yourself off the hook from time to time with having your own frozen meals or eating out (and it includes a meal plan!) etc etc.

So far so good. In a perfect world, these strategies would be all you ever needed to have a perfectly planned week full of delightful dinners with your loved ones. However, I want to propose adding another strategy: contingency planning.

What to do on days when you come home and the key ingredient for the gourmet dinner you had in mind for that day has gone bad (or your dog looks innocently rueful)? What to do when you want to take out those carefully homemade frozen dinners, just to find an empty freezer and an innocently rueful looking husband? What to do when you simply don't feel like dragging yourself out to a restaurant? These, dear reader, are the days you need to have your contingency plan in place for.

My personal contingency plan are lentils. They are very easy to store in bulk, are filling enough to be the backbone of an entire meal and if you get the red ones, they cook up in 15 minutes. And they are so versatile that you can combine them with basically anything.

In my case, I was lucky to still have some onion and vegetables in my fridge. After sauteing the onions and carrots, I added the lentils until they were also mostly with the oil, then cooked them in water until nearly. Just before they were ready, I put in the broccoli and seasoned them with salt, pepper and vinegar (with lentils, it is important to season them at the end of the cooking process).

It may not produce the most delicious meal in the world. It is wonderful if you are so good a planner that the situation never arises to require falling back on this contingency plan. But on days when you are really desperate, this strategy will deliver a nutritious dinner.

Life is good!


  1. I always have lentils on hand also! And though I am really good at meal planning...I'm awful at contingency meals. But I love the sound of this!

  2. Life is indeed good. My contingency meals are almost always rice based. I must say your lentil dish sounds much better than any of my rice creations. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. I love lentil but never cooked it! Better try this one!

  4. This looks healthy and quite delicious, a super idea for dinner in a hurry!


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