Skip the meat with this budget-friendly, slow cooker lentil bolognese recipe. It’s so easy and you’ll never miss the beef.
One of our goals this year is to make our food more budget-friendly. It’s not that we were spending huge dollar amounts on groceries every month, but we never really kept track of what we were eating and how much we were spending on food. So this year, we decided it would be smart to start tracking it, and as a result, I decided to challenge myself to stay well under our budget.
And, guess what. Meat is expensive and beans are cheap. On top of that, beans are also much more environmentally-friendly choice, and that means we are trying to incorporate them into more meals. My secret goal (ok, maybe not so secret now that I’m telling you about it) to have one bean-based meal a week, but it’s not something I’m going to drive myself nuts over.
Anyway, this slow cooker lentil bolognese is one of the first new recipes I’ve tried with that goal in mind, and it turned out awesome. Not only that, it also made a ton of food. I’m talking 3 – 4 meals worth. In 4 hours in the slow cooker. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
In order to make it taste a little more like meat, I added some beef bouillon to the pot, but you could totally substitute vegetable bouillon or broth (in place of the water + bouillon) if you want to make this recipe vegetarian/vegan. You could also add one more can of tomatoes, if you want to stretch the recipe a little further (just don’t forget to adjust your seasonings as well).
Have you ever used lentils as a meat substitute? If you have, I want to know about it. Leave me a note in the comments below.Print
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt & pepper
- 1 16-ounce bag dried lentils, rinsed and picked through
- 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 5 cups water
- 3 tablespoons bouillon powder (about 8 cubes)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- In a large slow cooker, mix together the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Cook on low for 4 – 5 hours, or until lentils have softened and sauce is thick.
- Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper to taste.
- Calories: 0
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Fat: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
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