Lentil Stuffed Cabbage

It is the new year! A time when we can start fresh...well most of the time people think that. How about going day by day to create a healthier you or work towards your resolutions/goals? Ok, so maybe you fell off the band wagon of going to the gym or eating healthier, but it doesn't mean you can't get right back on! Each new day brings on a chance for a fresh start! Whether or not your resolution is to lose weight, eat healthier, get to the gym more, etc., it is always a good idea to start or continue healthy practices. Make a goal for each day, for example: "I will pack my leftovers for lunch to save money and make a healthier meal" or "I will wake up an hour earlier to get a half hour workout in".  Creating small goals each day or week will make the process enjoyable and easier. Whatever your goal is for this year, strive to meet it!
2017 is going to be a crazy year for me, but the best one yet! I get to marry my best friend, finish school, become a registered dietitian, and go on our honeymoon. Continuing my healthy habits of working out, cooking/baking healthy meals, adequate sleep, drinking enough water, and creating a positive mindset every morning are still important. But I have to add a goal of watching my savings and trying to eliminate unnecessary spending. Being a foodie, I spend a ton of money on food. When I look at the amount, I am shocked. With many expenses coming my way (wedding, living on our own, honeymoon, travel for internship, etc.) it is important for me to reassess my spending.
Recipe redux’s theme, for January, is to create a meal for less than $3 per serving. What a perfect topic for me, as I have been trying to watching my food spending! During one of my presentations, I focused on eating healthy while on a budget. Usually when people think of eating healthy, their first excuse is: “It is too expensive”. You know what else is expensive? The doctor’s visits you will have to go to from years of poor, unhealthy habits.  As I assess patients in the hospital, it is obvious the importance of a healthy lifestyle with decreasing stress, healthy relationships, physical activity, adequate sleep and hydration, and a well-balanced diet.  I don’t want to have to visit you in the hospital because of something you could have prevented while you were younger. You are never too old to start living a healthy lifestyle! (I have seen 60 year olds get off their diabetes medicine through healthy lifestyle changes, so it is possible!)
Sorry about the rant, I am just very passionate about encouraging everyone I know to live a healthier lifestyle. You will also be happier and gain more confidence J. Here are a few of my tips to eating healthy while on a budget:
1. Eat more beans: great source of protein and fiber. Buy dry and in bulk to save, cook in large batches and package in containers for the freezer. You can replace meat for beans or do half meat and half beans.
2. Go meatless 1 or 2 days: it will be good for your health and wallet. Ex: mushrooms, eggplant, beans, legumes, nuts, tofu, etc.
3. Cook your food: Convenience foods are filled with chemicals and sodium (for longer shelf life), plus they are a bit more expensive compared to home cooking. If not much time, cook in bulk and freeze for later.
4. Buy produce seasonally: It is cheaper, you are supporting your local farmers, and the food has greater nutrition value because it is picked at ripeness instead of traveling 3 days to the shelves. If not in season, buy frozen produce (without sauce/salt added). Buy produce at different ripeness so you have more days to enjoy the produce.
5. Grow your own produce: you will find a joy in eating what you produced and knowing exactly where it came from.
6. At the beginning of each week, sit down and plan a menu for the week. Make a list for the grocery store so you do not adventure to the cookie isle, be on a mission for only the goods on the list (unless you see an amazing sale). Go food shopping once a week to save from buying unwanted food and save in gas from driving to the store.
7.  Collect coupons or read the ads when you walk in the store to see what is on sale and incorporate that item into a meal that week. Be flexible with you list.
8. Be creative with leftovers, example: grilled chicken one night can turn into chicken Parmesan, chicken salad, or chicken sandwich.
9. Buy in bulk so you cut the packaging cost out. Separate into easy to grab servings and place in the freezer for a quick meal prep. For example: if chicken breast is on sale, buy some and pack into appropriate portion sizes (like 2 in a bag). When you want a fast dinner, grab the portioned chicken and grill or bake. Placing them in an individual bag or separate with parchment paper will make them easier to separate.
10. Save every last bit with freezing, using for leftovers, eating for lunch, making soup, or donating leftovers to a family in need.

My recipe for stuffed cabbage will not put a hurting to your wallet ($1.65 per serving) or pant size.  You can throw any extra veggies you have laying around to prevent food wasting. You can really add anything you want into the filling! If the cabbage rolling is too time consuming, throw the cabbage with the rice, lentils, and veggie mixture for a one pot dinner! Add a side salad to create a larger, more filling meal for only $2.57 per serving!

Lentil and Brown Rice Stuffed Cabbage

Makes: 12 cabbage rolls
Feeds: 4 people
  • 1.5 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1.5 cup lentils, cooked
  • 1 whole cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cooking onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • pinch crushed pepper
  • 1 can low salt crushed tomatoes with basil (28 oz)
  • salt and pepper 
  1. Cook lentils and rice per package directions.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  3. Chop carrot, onion, and red pepper.
  4. Remove core of cabbage.
  5. Bring a large Dutch oven, filled with lightly salted water, to boil (enough to cover the cabbage). Add the cabbage to the boiling water and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, until soft. Remove cabbage and set aside. Drain water from Dutch oven to use later.
  6. In a large skillet or cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. Sauté chopped carrot, onion, and red pepper for 5 minutes.
  7. Add minced garlic and spices to veggies, continue to cook for 5 more minutes. 
  8. Mix in cooked lentils, rice, and 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes to veggie mixture; continue to cook for 5 more minutes. 
  9. Start the rolling! Peel the cabbage leaves carefully. Fill the middle of each leaf with mixture from step 8 (about 1/4 cup, depending on size of the leaf), fold in the sides, and roll tightly. 
  10. In the large Dutch oven, add a small layer of crushed tomatoes. Place in Dutch oven and top rolls with remaining tomato sauce. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Let cool and enjoy!!
Cabbage roll Cost per item
1.5 cup cooked brown rice (.75 cup uncooked)
1.5 cup cooked lentils (.75 cup uncooked)
1 cabbage
1 large carrot
½ cooking onion
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp parsley
1 can low salt crushed tomatoes with basil
$1.00 (on sale!)
= $1.65 per serving
Side salad cost per item
1 head of iceburg lettuce
1 cucumber
1 tomato
Dressing: olive oil and vinegar
= $.92 per serving
Total= $2.57 per serving (3 cabbage rolls and side salad)

Nutrition Label per serving
(for 3 cabbage rolls)
7.7 g
207 mg
527 mg
42 g
9.9 g
6 g
10.5 g
Vit A

“Whatever you’re facing today, keep going. Keep moving. Keep hoping. Keep pressing on. There is victory on the other side!”
-Mandy Hale



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