Cheap, versatile and tasty, you'll soon see why lentils are a thrifty cook's best friend.

From pesky tins shoved right to the bag of the cupboards to the trails of loose ones all over the shelves, there seem to be a lot of lentils lurking around.  

 

Unlike their bulk-out buddies rice and potatoes, versatile lentils are a much overlooked pulse. They can save you big bucks on meat costs without compromising on flavour. Just look what you can do with them. 

Bulk out spaghetti

Swap half the mince in your bolognese recipe for tinned lentils. They bulk it out with a fraction of the fat.

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Ramp up a salad

Make a hearty lunch by mixing tinned lentils with chunks of roasted butternut squash, spinach, crumbled feta and toasted pumpkin seeds. Dress with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil. Try using some jarred beetroot and a sprinkle of goat's cheese for a take on Rachel Khoo's delicious salad.

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Soup it up

Soften diced carrot, celery and onion (and any leftover veg you've got going) with a little crushed garlic and pancetta cubes (or sausage) add tinned or cooked lentils and chicken stock. Simmer until the grains are tender for a super-simple soup.

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A handy side

Stir lots of chopped parsley, mint and basil through lentils, add cherry tomatoes, and a lemony vinaigrette. Serve warm or cold with grilled meat or fish. 

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Photo: Tara Fisher

Introduce them to bacon

As a flavour combo lentils get along very well with bacon. Either blended into a simple low-cost soup (like this one from simple bites) or whipped into something altogether more fancy like this more fancy cod, leek and bacon supper remember they are the best of friends.

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