I recently got a recipe in my email for Lentil Sloppy Joes. The concept was so simple I couldn't resist - cook lentils and carrots until tender and add Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce. We didn't have canned sauce so we opted for a package of sloppy joe seasoning (.44 at the local store) and 1/2 quart of home-canned tomatoes. The result was so good that my husband exclaimed after every bite (and a lot of comments about how it tasted just like hamburger sloppy joes). It's easy and a really inexpensive meal.
For those of us in the Palouse, lentils are often given away. We are the home of the Pea and Lentil Commission and when they attend fairs and festivals it's always with the little bags of free legumes (usually three types of lentils - brown, mini brown and red). They also sell big bags of lentils for a good deal (something like 10 pounds for $12 or 12 pounds for $10 - sorry I can't remember but it's still a good deal).
Lentils are still inexpensive in the grand scheme of things - I "budget" $2 per meal for protein. I don't spend that much on every meal but that's my ceiling. Unless I am making something really special, my protein choice can not cost more than that. A single pound bag of lentils falls into this category at the grocery store and 1 pound will make two pots of lentil sloppy joes.
According to the recipe this will make 8 sloppy joes, I found that to be fairly accurate. We feed 4 people at dinner and had enough left over for my brother when he got home from work. It doesn't look like a lot of food but it was plenty. Serve on buttered toasted hamburger buns for an authentic sloppy joes.
Next time I plan on trying a variation without packaged seasoning.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
1 cup dry brown lentils, sorted and rinsed (sorted means looking for rocks, twigs, etc)
4 cups water
1 cup chopped carrots (about the size of the lentils)
1 can sloppy joe sauce (or tomatoes, tomato sauce and sloppy joe seasoning)
1 TB packed brown sugar
8 hamburger buns
Combine lentils and water in saucepan. Cover, bring to boil over med-high heat. Add carrots. Reduce to med-low and cook 20 minutes or until tender. Drain excess water. Stir in sloppy joe sauce and brown sugar, simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use about 1/2 cup lentils on each bun.