Lentil Loaf & the No Spend Budget

When trying to determine a budget for our no spend month I took into account our needs–gas to get to work, food to fill our bellies, etc. Chris works about 16 miles from home, so even if he only drove to and from work each day, would need to fill up every couple of weeks. I usually fill my tank every three weeks since most of the places I go are pretty close and I drive a compact car. So if we have to fill up our tanks three times this month, we’re looking at close to $150 without considering any other expenses.

My original (crazy) plan was to make our budget $250. That went out the window with the revelation that gas would likely eat over half of that. Our regular food spending hovers in the range of $350, so a cut to $200 is drastic enough for us to feel it, but still workable (I think). Like the blogger who inspired us to do this, we started with a pantry fairly full of our staples, had at least one of our gas tanks full (C forgot to fill his) and don’t have many extra expenses expected this month.

So that’s the rationale for $350. Every family who does something like this should consider carefully what to set their budget at. If you’re regularly spending $500 on groceries and $200 on gas, then a budget of $350 would probably be untenable. The idea is to cut back where you can, to consider where you truly need to spend and where you’re spending more than you need to be (ahem, Target runs). For families who are already carefully budgeting and spending wisely, a no spend month would probably be of little benefit. But for those with wiggle room or who find that they’re spending more than they’re taking in, this can be super helpful.

Without further ado, dinner tonight is a fav from my sister in law. Lentil Loaf.

No, it doesn’t sound all that great, I’ll give you that. I mean, the word “loaf” should really only be applied to bread in my opinion, but whatever you call it, this is a yummy, satisfying, budget friendly meal. And guess what, men actually like it!

Lentil Loaf 

  • 1 c dry lentils
  • 1/4 c wheat germ
  • 1 c bread crumbs or oatmeal
  • 1/2 c cooked brown rice (I often use bulgur)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 c ketchup
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 1-2 shredded carrots

Cover lentils in a saucepan filled with enough water to cover. Simmer until lentils are very tender, roughly 40 minutes. Coarsely mash lentils and combine with remaining ingredients. Actually measure your spices! I often don’t and end up not putting in enough. This recipe really  needs the spices to give it flavor. Pour mixture into a 9×9 or loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake covered at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until loaf is firm to the touch. Baking times vary according to your pan shape.

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2 Responses to Lentil Loaf & the No Spend Budget

  1. Julie K says:

    I may have to try this out! It sounds like a great freezer meal too.

  2. Pingback: Baby Friendly Lentil Patties | A Closer Peek

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