Mung Bean Stew on a Budget

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Buying and eating healthy vegetarian whole foods is often a painfully expensive pleasure. Organic products, fresh fruits and vegetables, plant milks, special flours, nuts and seeds can easily crash any family budget. We can definitely vouch for that. For the last couple of years, our food expenses have doubtlessly been our highest cost each month. We have prioritized paying more for food and less for clothes and other stuff. But this doesn’t mean that we are just splurging away without looking at the price tag of that organic coconut oil. It’s quite the opposite. We make constant efforts to plan how, where and what we buy and what we eat, in order to reduce expenses.

With this in mind, we have decided to start a new series on the blog called Healthy Eating on a Budget. We will share tasty and wholesome recipes that are affordable, along with some tips on how to eat well without blowing your savings away. First out is this hearty Mung Bean Stew that will keep you warm and nourished during the cold months. Dried pulses, frozen spinach and only a can of coconut milk makes it a very affordable recipe. Adjust the recipe with any beans or lentils or your choice.

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Here are some general tips on how to eat healthy vegetarian whole foods on a budget:

  1. Choose dried. Dried pulses like lentils and beans are always cheap and easy to bulk up on. Soak, cook and freeze in portions.
  2. Remember the season. Vegetables and fruit in season are always more affordable. Adapt ingredients in recipes after what are in season in your country. If a recipe calls for sweet potato you can use carrots instead, etc.
  3. Double the recipe. Cook and bake large batches of your meals, freeze the leftovers and use for lunch/dinner throughout the week.
  4. Alternative organic brands. Most large supermarkets have their own organic or fair-trade product line which is cheaper than other small brands.
  5. Natural super food. Skip the fancy super food powders. Go for kale, apple, carrot, sweet potato, potato, leek, onion, pumpkin/squash, broccoli, beet, tomato, tomato concentrate, cabbage, egg, banana, almonds, rolled oats, whole grain rice, quinoa, flax seeds, berries, coconut oil, olive oil and tea. All of these ingredients are real super foods too.
  6. Don’t skip the frozen section.Frozen vegetables and fruit are always in season; they are often on sale and are actually full of nutrients. They are usually picked, cleaned and frozen within a very short time-span, which means they contain more nutrients than the supermarket vegetables lying on the shelves for weeks.
  7. Love seeds. Seeds are cheaper than nuts and can replace them in most recipes. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, buckwheat and psyllium seeds. All high in protein, healthy fat and lots of minerals and vitamins.
  8. Prioritize the dirty dozen. Choosing organic and GMO-free fruit and vegetables can be really expensive and almost impossible on a budget. Check out the ‘dirty dozen’ list over which produce has the highest pesticide residues and which do not. Then you can prioritize your purchase. Buy the highest quality of what you eat the most.
  9. Supplements. Choose only the really important supplements like a high quality basic vitamin/mineral supplement and a high quality EPA/DHA fish oil supplement. It is better to take high quality supplements every other day than a bad quality everyday.

If you feel like sharing your own personal budget tips, we’d love to hear them!

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Mung Bean Stew & Whole Grain Rice
Serves 4-6

2 cups dried mung beans, soaked in water for 8-12 hours
1 tbsp coconut oil, ghee or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
400 g frozen spinach, thawed
6 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 x 400 ml can full fat coconut milk

1,5 cups whole grain rice
3 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

Heat oil in a sauce pan, add onion, garlic and cumin. Sauté until fragrant, stir occasionally. Add spinach, soaked mung beans and water, cover and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and let cook for 30-40 minutes or until the beans are soft. Turn off the heat and stir in coconut milk. Ready to serve.

Put rice and water into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is just tender, about 40 minutes. No peeking or stirring. Set covered pot aside off of the heat for 10 minutes.

 

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**UPDATE** Thank you so much for all the applications. We will now select the 10 clients and contact you very soon.

 

As many of you know Luise is studying to become a certified Nutritional Therapist. This Spring she and another student will do 10 cases with clients for their examination. We want you to get the opportunity to apply for those 10 spots. If you are interested and fulfil the criteria below please send an email to luise@gkitchenstories.com along with some background information about yourself and which health issues you would like us to help you with. We will contact you at the end of januari if you are one of the 10. The consultations are for free and the information will be used anonymous in our examination material.

The criteria for applying are following:

• you are able to attend two consultations in Stockholm and one Skype consultation
• you are willing to make lifestyle or/and diet changes
• you are able to pay for some tests, for example a hair mineral analyse or a hormone test
• you are able to pay for supplements, like vitamins and minerals
• you have a specific health issue you want help to solve

112 Comments

  • Elsa
    Very good idea. What I do twice a year is to empty my cupboards. I always have a bit of this a bit of that, products that I bought for a special recipe but didn't need to use everything. It helps me trow away less products. On another point where I live, nobody knows what kale is (I never find it anywhere even on markets and natural shops). What could I use instead that would have similar values? Thanks!
  • I love this stew and can't wait to try it. And this new series is so smart and practical. Your tips seem spot-on, it's nice to know how you think about stocking your pantries and shopping. I also think meal planning and keeping a running list of staple pantry items getting low helps us have more focused shopping trips so that we don't wander aimlessly getting things we don't have a plan for and then end up wasting them. And I find that keeping a list of staple pantry items that I may not be out of just yet allows me to remember to look out for them and then I have the flexibility to grab them when on sale instead of out of desperation last minute when they're not on sale.
    • Asmita Rami
      If you really like all dry beans like mungdal, all kinds of dals buy from Indian grocery store closed to your home its very cheap and all organic produce. Also all kinds of spice, garam masala, basmati rice, etc. Buy for good.
  • Maria Calpén
    Weekly mealplanning and lunchboxes are my best budget tips!
  • Candela
    Great post! & the stew sounds yummy!
  • This is great! I just watched "Food Stamped" yesterday and woke up to this post. It feels like you just saw it too :) Did you? Otherwise I suggest you see it soon. Lovely recipe. I'm gonna cook it tonight. Have all the ingredients laying around in my kitchen. Thanks
  • Laura-Louise
    Thank you so much for that post. I love most of your recipes, but as a student, I simply cannot afford most of the fancier stuff - so a cooking on a budget section is perfect for me (and for all the other students willing to eat well).Big thanks!
  • Chris
    Much much needed!Well done! Looking forward to what follows in this series!
  • Kasia
    Yummy... This recipe is like my kithadi ayurvedic healing soup! Lovely post and beautiful pictures ! Thank you :-)
  • I really love this post! Thank you so much for the information ;)
  • Such easy, sensible advice! I would also suggest growing your own herbs and lettuce leaves as you only really need a windowsill full to keep you going :)
  • Guro
    What a great post! I especially like your tip on appreciating not so fancy vegetables (kålrot, for example, which is extremely cheap in Norway, at least, and full of nutrients). Keep up the good work!
  • I soooooo love mung beans and always have them at home. I love them in warm salads. I will definitely try this recipe. Meanwhile just wanted to let you know that I became a fan of the cashewgurt (check it here: http://coentrosrabanetes.blogspot.pt/2014/01/iogurte-de-caju-cashewgurt.html) and will try it with other nuts!
  • Hayley
    The Eating Healthy on a Budget series is a wonderful idea! (Especially for students like myself, who have a really tight budget but want to eat healthy.) Thank you, David and Luise!
  • Great idea for a series, I think it will be helpful to many. My tip would be to try to grow at least some of your veg and fruit wherever possible. Even in an appartment, you can grow some herbs and these are both easy to grow and expensive to buy. If you can't invest money in eating healthier, maybe you can invest time? We have an organic allotment where we grow most of what we eat. I also started a small community garden in the neighbourhood where people can come to help and then share in the harvest. Some things, like raspberries for example, are especially huge moneysavers. For anyone interested, in this post I highlighted some vegetables that are especially profitable to grow yourself: http://www.growntocook.com/?p=1913
  • Such great tips and the stew looks beautiful! I'm not a vegetarian but we only eat small amounts of meat and fish in our house. And we do buy mostly organic whole foods. I cannot come up with any additional tips, but I always take into consideration when buying "expensive" organic greens that they are almost always cheaper than the meat or fish counterpart ;-)
  • This is exactly what I need, especially the choosing food in season... but I love grapes and berries so much! (luckily for me they are great frozen too- already using your tips)
  • Great advices! I think the "choose dried" is the one I'm following the most, my freezer is filled woth beans I've boiled myself. They are really great in stews and salads :)
  • Jodi
    You guys - I love this! What a great idea to share your tips! I do the best I can, but sometimes it can break the budget. Its so nice to hear you acknowledge this too! Good luck with your studies, Luise! My sister is doing thr same thing and I had a fun time being one of her 'cases'. Soup sounds great too! As always, wonderful post!
  • Good morning! Or should I say good night from California : ) I just bought your book and am already looking forward to the next. The photos are eye candy; just beautiful, and I am already adding items to my market list. Thank you for this lovely site.
  • Mung beans are so delicious, we usually enjoyed them sprouted in salad, spring rolls, smoothie, hummus or quick stir-fried at home. Your stew sounds like a simple good dish to keep us warm on this cold winter season and friendly on the budget too. Great list David, thanks a lot. Eating in season is one of my favorite tip too and buying in the bulk section saves money & on packaging. I have been buying my organic extra virgin coconut oil online in 1 gallon pail because I use it all the time for cooking, baking & beauty care along with other goodies like hemp seeds, organic almonds, etc. The best part, it is delivered right at my door. It's from Essential Living Food and here's the link if you are interested: http://essentiallivingfoods.com/ Good luck to Luise for her Nutritional Therapist exam this spring!

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