Ingredients in case of Emergencies

Welcome to the I post of my journey through the A to Z of April Challenge. I have looked through my plans for this post and decided to save the delicious tastes of Indian food for a later.

I peered into the cupboards in the kitchen today and was faced by my stock pile of pulses, surely it is prudent to purchase such items in bulk. Lentils won’t go off, will they?


Some might say my store is quite impressive. Most of the pulses are purchased from the local Indian store and as such are much cheaper than if I had picked them up in Tesco.

Currently I have the following (unopened)
2 Kg of Red Lentils
2 Kg of Green Lentils
2 Kg of Yellow split peas
1 Kg of Soup mix

Perhaps that doesn’t seem such a problem to you, but if I turn my back on the store cupboard I am then faced with my shelves of dry ingredients. Here I have at least 1kg of each (apart from the soup mix). I also have assorted pasta shapes, a large jar of spaghetti and a quantity of both brown and white rice, couscous and bulgar wheat.

We eat these ingredients frequently,
but not frequently enough to justify the quantities we currently hold,
so why have so much?

I pondered this question while I walked Angus (our Basset) this morning,
I continued to contemplate it as I tried to organise the cupboards on our return to the flat.

For as long as I can remember being in “control” of the family fiances (over 20 years now) I have had some kind of stock pile to cook up when the cash ran out.

When I was at university, the student loan would hit my account 3 times a year, I was a single parent and scraping by. As soon as the money cleared I would head to the super market, fill the freezer, pile the cupboards full of tins, make sure that we had enough food in. At the end of the term I would resort to cooking up “emergency ingredients”. The results might not have been the most enjoyable but we survived.

During the darkest period in my financial history the stockpiles of food kept the wolves from the door, it was during this time that Mental Lentil Soup was invented. The freezer had gone down we lost most of what was inside. All I had in was my stock of red lentils, (I hadn’t expanded to green or brown lentil hoarding then) and some tinned tomatoes. Cheap onions and carrots had been bought out of the pennies in the bottom of my handbag.  I simply threw what I had in the slow cooker and whizzed it up with a stick blender.

So right there, thinking about that time in my life when I faced some particularly difficult financial hardships, I found the reasons for my pulse stock piles. They are my security blanket, perhaps they should come with a break seal in case of emergencies tag!

Perhaps, if I can nail this frugal living malarkey I can eventually overcome my hoarding of dried good issues- perhaps not after all we still love the Mental Lentil Soup. My son was responsible for naming it and the name has stuck, a few tweaks have been made across the years but it is simple and if you have a quantity of lentils (like I do) you can knock up 8-10 portions for about £1.00

Mental Lentil Soup

8 Carrots (or how ever many you have)  30p
1 tin of Tomatoes                                          33p
2 Onion                                                          10p
3 Cloves of Garlic                                         10p
1 1/2 cups of lentils                                      (free from the stock pile)
1 stock cube                                                     5p
Generous squeeze of tomato puree          10p
Chilli – use powder, flakes or fresh what ever is to hand but be generous!
1 1/2 pints of water

Method. – Using a slow cooker
Chop the carrot
Peel and chop the onion (no I didn’t peel the carrot)
Crush the garlic cloves,
add  all the ingredients to the slow cooker
cook on high until the carrot is soft – normally 2-3 hours
Blend with a stick blender till smooth.

All of the costings above are approximate, now cooking is not as chaotic and choice is extended by the budgets we live within I would recommend adding fresh chilli over dried and adding half a teaspoon of paprika to the pot!

The I of my A to Z has help me to think about my reasons for keeping ingredients in case of emergencies, it has also made me hanker after a big bowl of soup!

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