Well actually if you buy spices from the Worldwide supermarkets you can generally get a small bag for 69-89p. You could even stretch to £1 if you prefer to have them in a plastic shaker.
Investing in spices will save you money on buying jarred sauces, make your food taste a lot more interesting and generally transform your cooking skills. Equipped with a range of spices, you can feed yourself for at least 4 delicious meals for 89p.
I like the Heera brand as they have recipes on the back, so if you pick up a pack of lentils and have no idea what to do with them, you can confidently follow the directions on the back to ensure an authentic and delicious meal. Which is exactly what I did with my little pack of split peas:
1 cup chana dal/yellow split peas, soaked overnight in 4 cups water
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tbsp tamarind (could sub honey or treacle)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp garlic
After soaking the lentils, drain and add to a saucepan with the 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for around 30 minutes, until the lentils are becoming soft. If you have a lot of time, you can leave the lentils simmering while you go about other tasks for up to around an hour - you can't really overcook them as long as there is enough liquid.
After the 30 mins, add the spices to the dal and stir, turn the heat down and put the lid on. In a separate frying pan, heat the oil with the garlic and mustard seeds until fragrant, then stir into the dal along with the tamarind. The dal should thicken after around 3 minutes, at which point it is ready.
Serve with rice and greens, or add more water and boil with sweet potato and carrots to make a flavoursome soup.
Lentils are a great option for vegetarians, as well as the health-conscious (who isn't these days?) They're cheap, easy to use and act as a perfect base for lots of spicy dishes: soups, curries, stews and as an alternative to rice.