A children's white Moomin plate with a pile of red lentils

How to cook Red Lentils – An Easy Meat Free Swap

They are cheap, a sustainable and delicious. Using lentils or a new ingredients can feel daunting. If you are not a confident cook or don’t have much experience it can feel like a mammoth task. Research, ideas and not knowing what to buy or cook can become overwhelming. Well red lentils is a great place to start. My fussy eaters including Mike love it and it is a cheaper, healthier and a more sustainable meal option.

Red lentils are full of protein, low in fat and high in iron and folate. The price is a winner too at only about £1.80 per kilo while the cheapest beef mince (20% fat ) will cost about £3.00 per kilo and the Organic beef mince (15% fat) is near the £10 mark. It works out even cheaper again as for every serving of 500g of beef mince you only need approximately 180g of red lentils. If maths blows your mind I figured it out for you. A meal using 500g of beef mince costs from £1.50 to £5 substituting with red lentils will cost as much as 32p. An absolute steal and a one kilo bag will make over 5 meals if using as an alternative to 500g of mince.

If this all seems a bit much and your not sure if you will like it or nervous about cooking a new meal try using half mince and half red lentils. Trust me you wont even notice. I use it to make our meat go further or if I want to bulk out our meals so I can make leftovers too. For your first try use 250g beef mince and 90g red lentils.My favourite meals to use red lentils in is curries, spaghetti bolognese and chilli con carne (although not really so carne anymore).


  • 180g instead of 500g Mince
  • 90g for 250g

Tip – add to cooked lentils to the recipe after browning the mince or when it say to add the meat. Let it infuse with the spices and herbs.


  1. Weigh the amount you need
  2. Rinse well
  3. Add to a pan with water – boil for 6 minutes
  4. Drain and rinse
  5. Add to meal

So how are lentils more sustainable and better for the environment? One reason is that when you compare the carbon foot print there is a big difference. One kilo of beef is equivalent to 63 car miles and lentils is only 2 car miles. Also to throw more maths at you remember that one killo of red lentils makes over five meals. Meaning one kilo of red lentils replaces five kilos of beef mince, 2 car miles versus 315 car miles. Shocking. Small changes can make a huge difference.

Give it a go and see what you think. Let me know what you make and what you did. Tag me on Instagram @jenjensdesignsuk



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April 3, 2021