How to Live on Beans and Rice for a Week

How to Live on Beans and Rice for a Weekphoto by noonch

We use a lot of beans around here; they’re inexpensive, they’re filling, and they’re nutritious. Pair them with rice (we prefer brown rice) and you have a complete protein.

When I read Ruth’s post here on how to live on beans and rice for a week, I thought it’d be fun to try and come up with my own version. While we’ve never tried to just have beans and rice all week long, Ruth inspired me to come up with an almost-week-long beans and rice menu plan, too, using some of our favorite legume recipes. Maybe we’ll have to do this sometime!

Day One:
Cook up a big ole’ pot of beans (I do mine like this. You can add in seasonings, onions, etc. if you prefer). I’d recommend cooking black beans, pinto beans, and chili beans. Mix equal parts of the beans and make chili (we like to add onions, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, spices, hot sauce, pickle juice, and anything else that strikes my fancy that evening! You can add some browned ground beef if you like.). Serve over brown rice with cheese and hot sauce.

Day Two: Take the leftover chili and make “haystacks”–set out bowls of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, corn chips, rice, cheese, sour cream, olives, and hot sauce. Let everyone pile things on and make up their own “haystack”.

Day Three: Mash up some of the black beans and pinto beans (you can make them refried like this, if you like) and mix with a little salsa and chopped chicken. Roll up in tortillas, sprinkle with cheese and heat through.

Day Four: Make pizza crust and top with mashed/refried beans, salsa or diced tomatoes, onions (if you like) and cheese. Bake. If you have leftover lettuce and tomatoes from Day Two, you could sprinkle them on top of the baked pizza. If you have any leftover chili, you could also make “Chili Pizza” using chili and tomatoes and cheese as the pizza topping.

Day Five: Use any leftover chili, beans, or mashed beans you have left to make Mexican Lasagna (like this or this or this–only substitute most of the meat for beans.)

Those are a few of our family favorites. I could probably come up with more, but five days of beans is likely about all we could take around here!

What about you? What are your favorite ways to cook beans and rice? If you were to try and subsist mostly on beans and rice for a week, what would you serve?

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Comments

  1. Maggie says

    One of my favorite Bean recipes is Curried Lentils & Rice. Basically you just cook some lentils. Then cook the rice with some curry and chicken stock. When rice is cooked, mix rice and lentils together. SOOO delicious!

  2. says

    I like rice and beans (pintos) cooked with onions and lime juice, and topped with tomatoes from the garden.

    Then the next day it could be rice and bean burritos, with salsa, sour cream, and tomatoes fro mthe garden, or lettuce form the garden and canned tomatoes, depending on the season.

    I try to store a variety of beans and a couple of kinds of rice.

    I also have beans in soups:
    Taco soup http://theprudenthomemaker.com/tacosoup.aspx
    Minestrone Soup
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/minestronesoup.aspx
    Pasta e Fagioli
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/pastaefagioli.aspx

    I would also make Spanish rice
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/spanishrice.aspx

    which we could serve with or without beans on the side.

    We’ve eaten a lot more beans (and rice) in the last few years, and I’m working on incorporating even more recipes with them into our diet.

  3. Kim says

    Being from Louisiana, I make red beans and rice and serve it with cornbread (made from scratch…cheaper). I soak my beans all day and then mix them with onions, garlic, bell peppers, seasonings, and a splash of red wine vinegar. You can add smoked sausages if you have them. Serve it over the rice. Delicious, and cheap.

  4. Honey says

    Being southern, I would have to make a crockpot of pinto beans and ham. When they are cooked, season them with salt and top with diced onion. Cornbread is a must. And on the side would be cucmber and tomato slices. We also love Mexican so some of your items would definitely be on the menu. But I think after about 3 days we would have had enough of beans! We thrive on variety.

  5. Amanda says

    I wish I could do this but I don’t like beans. I will cook them for my husband and he will eat them but I just can’t. Also, my husband wants “variety” when it comes to his meals so a week full of the same main ingredients wouldn’t work at my house. But these are great tips just the same!!

  6. says

    I’ve posted a couple times at my own blog about rice and beans – it’s interesting that they’ve been consistently among the most popular posts. One of my favorite aspects of the beans and rice meal is the the sort of “stone soup” angle: the dish can be as simple or as elaborate as you like using up bits and bobs of leftovers (the last quarter of a pepper, an onion slice chopped up, a wee bit of cheese and so on) but no matter what you add (or not), it’s always wonderful.

    I adore the usual red or black beans but always remind people to switch it up with lentils now and again. The teeny tiny yellow ones are delicious and made all the more so with a little garam masala and red pepper (and plain yogurt on top!). The orange ones cook up very quickly and take up shrimp boil spices (yes, really!) and a squeeze of lemon as if they were made for it.

  7. says

    I don’t think my “system” or my kids’ could take beans for a week, but maybe a couple of days! We did just try a fantastic black bean soup recipe from the Food Network’s website and tweeked it slightly. We used smoked sausage, instead of the hot, Mexican sausage and cut out the crab meat. Add lowfat sour cream as a topping and it was fantastic. It was DELICIOUS and very substantive and inexpensive. Here’s the link- http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robin-miller/black-bean-soup-with-crab-and-andouille-sausage-recipe/index.html

  8. says

    Thanks so much for these ideas. I’ve been wanting to do beans and rice more, but I wasn’t sure how to “jazz” them up. I’m not a huge fan of beans, but these ideas – especially the pizza one! – are making me almost crave them. I really appreciate it!

  9. AMY says

    I grew up on pinto beans. My grandmother made them everyday. Her version was dry pinto beans cooked all day with a good helping of lard or ham-fat. She would serve it with homemade cornbread, fresh sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers. We were dirt poor. This meal everyday was tasting and filling. She fed six or more everyday on pennies and beans.

    I am not a meat eater. I love beans. I prefer black beans, lentils, and chick peas.

    I make black bean soup. Cook the beans with salt,fresh garlic, onions and diced tomatoes. Puree. Add a dollop of sour cream. Delicious. Favorite at my house.

    If using chickpeas/garbanzos, add cooked beans to saute pan with salt, italian seasoning, garlic, and oil. Fry lightly. Beans come out crispy and tasty.

    I make lentil soup. Buy dried lentils. Soak all day. Add to soup pan, cover with water or broth. Add chopped cooked veggies (ex.carrots, celery, potatoes, onions). Add garlic, italian seasoning or any other seasoining you have on hand. Add a can of tomatoes if desired. Let cook until done. Can add cooked bacon, sausage, etc if meat desired. Very tasty and cheap.

    Thanks for the tips.

  10. says

    this is awesome! I thought I’d also mention that any legume + whole grain makes a complete protein. So – barley and lentils, black beans and wheat bread, etc. Also – you have a number of hours (I think 12?) to get the combination in. So you could eat rice at night and beans for breakfast and that would still count – as far as your body is concerned – as a complete.

  11. says

    Quick question – in your post about how you cook beans, it never mentioned how long you cook them. It says every half hour to add some water, but it never says how long total. I should probably know this, but I’ve always just bought canned beans – I would love to try and cook my own beans because it’s less expensive. Help! :)

  12. Dakota says

    Just don’t forget the beano …. Sorry I couldn’t resist! :p

    This is interesting. I may try and do something like this for an ‘every other night’ dinner. just to see how much it saves! :)

  13. Andrea says

    There’s a good recipe for White Chicken Chili that uses small navy beans. http://donewithexcuses.com/emerils-white-bean-chili/152/ Here’s another one that uses navy beans and rosemary that my family loves. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/rosemary-white-bean-soup-recipe/index.html We’ve added bits of carrot and even sliced smoked sausage to that one with good results.

    Black Bean Soup is awesome, especially served over Cous Cous (a bit more expensive than brown rice, so go with what you can afford). Stir some taco seasoning in along with onions/peppers while it cooks, then add salsa after the beans are done. Even better if you have some colby jack cheese and any taco toppings to sprinkle on top.

    Refried Beans Without the Refry from Allrecipes is really good as is or served mashed like you would refried beans.

    And Indian Fry Bread is super easy and turns your beans and taco toppings into open faced chalupas (unless you actually make them large enough to fold over into a chalupa :) Mine are always too small…or maybe I put on too many toppngs!

    The hubs came up with a red beans and rice recipe that cooks in 25 minutes in the pressure cooker at 15# pressure. He added banana peppers, okra, corn, onion, etc. from the garden and a little bit of raw chicken breast meat we had on hand. Seasonings were Tony Cachere’s, paprika, chili powder, salt/pepper. Very fast and filling. Gotta love those one pot, done in a flash meals!

    Lovin’ y’all’s suggestions. Can’t get much healthier than beans and rice! (And here’s a link to The Urban Homemaker with some more great reader-suggested recipes… http://www.marilynmoll.com/2008/03/easy-economical-vegetarian-main-dishes/ )

  14. Heather says

    Lentils! In a soup with some Italian sausage, carrots, rosemary, onion, etc.

    Lentils do NOT have to soak, cook much more quickly than beans, and do not cause certain digestive problems like beans often do. Very nutritious.

  15. Chris says

    Three ways we eat beans and rices that haven’t been mentioned yet are:

    stirfry with tofu and brown rice

    pho– rice noodles, broth, mung bean sprouts (sprouted at home)

    bean burgers–brown lentils, rice or barley, veggies, and egg to bind then serve on buns with catsup and mustard

  16. Leisha Larson says

    Falafel is delicious!
    Falafel is cooked smashed garbanzo beans mixed with yummy Indian spices like cumin and onions and garlic add an egg and bread crumbs to make a thick dough that can be shaped into patties and fried in a bit of oil like a hamburger. Serve this with a yougurt,cucumber and dill sauce. Yumm!

  17. says

    I might have to try this rice & beans for a week thing! I’ve never understood how you could eat rice & beans day after day, but I guess they’re pretty versatile. To preserve our sense of smell we might have to take a break between days, though! ;)

  18. deseray says

    I tried the same mexican lasagna recipe from allrecipes last week, and its really good! We also cooked up a big pot of black beans, and had them over yellow rice. Yum!

  19. says

    Yum! Let’s see…a week’s worth of beans and rice?

    1. Definitely red beans and rice. MMM!

    2. Lentil curry over Jasmine or Basmati rice

    3. Black beans and tomatoes over brown rice.

    4. Bean and rice burritos

    5. Chana masala (Indian chickpea dish) over Jasmine or Basmati rice

    6. Vegetarian chili with several different varieties of beans, over rice

    7. Spanish rice with a spicy bean dip on the side…yum!

    As for ideas that aren’t technically beans AND rice, there’s always black bean soup, lentil soup, bean quesadillas, beans and cornbread, fried rice, chickpea soup, chickpea pasta …we obviously love beans at our house!

  20. Richard says

    Nobody mentioned adzuki beans yet. They have a “meatier” flavor than other beans, so maybe they would help with the bean-reluctant.

    As to the menus, I’d cook the beans fairly “plain” with a bit of salt, onion and maybe a ham hock and put the chili at the end of the week as a “catchall” for dribs and drabs of things (like the “stone soup” idea above). The stronger flavors in chili can hide/meld with all the other stuff you’re dropping in.

    As to gas production, the best way we’ve found is to bring the beans to a boil slowly over about 10-20 minutes, then cover and let them sit for 1-2 hours. Then rinse them VERY THOROUGHLY, return them to the pot, add your seasonings and cook as usual.

  21. says

    We had a layered chicken and bean/lentil enchilada casserole recently, which I made in my slow cooker. I’d definitely include that dish in the line-up, as well as taco salad, lentil soup, chalupas, and minestrone.

  22. Lisa says

    I’m from Appalachia, and we love beans with cornbread and onions! Everyone I know who’s from here loves beans and cornbread. Whenever I make a giant pot of beans, it’s beans an cornbread the first day, some sort of Mexican the second, and chili the third. All different and all delicious!

  23. Terry says

    My week of rice & beans would use lentils, white beans & black beans. There is a nice combination of tastes and variety in this week long menu! Then again, I am vegetarian and LOVE beans, so it isn’t a stretch to come up with a week’s menu based on rice & beans.
    Day 1: Lentil Soup – I have a wonderful recipe that includes adding cooking sherry & Tamari sauce (expensive soy sauce) which gives it such a delicious and decadant taste.
    Day 2: Put some of the leftover lentil soup into a soup pot and bring to a boil again. Mix flour and water in a measuring cup, and add to the soup – enough to reduce the soup down to a very thick consistency. Place in a loaf pan, and top with mashed potatoes and cheese and bake in the oven for 60 minutes.
    Day 3: Savory lentils & rice. Savory slow cooked lentil recipe – cook lentils until soft. In a saucepan, saute onion in oil on very low heat with some salt for 5 minutes, then cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes – the onions will be very soft. Add one can drained tomatoes and cook another five minutes. Place in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with a mixture of 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar & 2 tsp. brown sugar. Cover and cook 1 hour. Serve over rice. (Cook up a huge batch of rice – enough for 3 meals)
    Day 4: Make chinese fried rice with leftover rice from day 3.
    Day 5: Tuscan White Bean Soup. Recipezaar has dozens of recipes.
    Day 6: Black beans & spanish rice in tortillas, and serve with salsa and cheese.

  24. says

    Thanks for this post… I’ve been trying to do more rice and beans lately (in an effort to move towards a less meat-based diet) and I’ve been needing some recipes! I’ll have to go back and look at all these great ideas!

  25. Liz says

    Funny you should mention beans…I just cooked up two big pots of beans this past weekend. It was really easy. I soaked the beans overnight, changed the water in the morning, and then cooked them in my crockpot on low for 8-10 hours. I froze the beans in amounts comparable to the canned version. It was easy and much cheaper than buying canned. I am hooked.

    Also – I found this great recipe for 7 layer tortilla pie on Pace’s website (thanks to playing their game – I now have tons of Pace!):
    http://www.pacefoods.com/recipes/PaceSiteRecipeDetail.aspx?recipeSource=search&recipeID=24826&page=0&index=0&SearchText=7+layer&advSearchParams=ingredientname%3apace&LastIndex=false

  26. says

    Those were some great ideas for living off rice and beans! One bean that I love is Black Eyed “Peas” served with brown rice with a little butter and salt. So yummy!

  27. lizzykristine says

    There are ways to cook beans that reduce some of the more notorious side effects — notably, doing a quick boil before soaking overnight, and changing the water a couple times prior to cooking. We eat a ton of beans and feel none the worse. :)

    However, since going dairy-free, beans and rice has become more challenging — anyone ever notice how many bean/rice recipes require cheese? Nachos, haystacks/stackup, etc…. Our cheese-free repertoire so far includes chili, taco soup, and burritos…. I’m very open to more ideas!

  28. Megan says

    I would have to make some red beans and rice and then a big pot of pinto beans with a pan of cornbread. I also love Butter Chickpea Curry because it’s really cheap, has a warm, spicy flavor and it’s not like anything I usually cook. And, like you said, leftover pintos make great refried beans and they are so much healthier than canned refrieds! So good with spicy enchiladas!

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Butter-Chickpea-Curry/Detail.aspx

  29. says

    Being an Indian vegetarian, I eat beans and rice almost everyday. I make variety of recipes in beans. One simple, delicious and nutritious recipe is, Lentil curry

    1. cook beans well and mash it.
    2. In a pan, add tomato juice, chilli, salt and mashed beans. cook for 5 mins ( add little water to make it as liquid)
    3. Add 3 tea spoon of lime juice
    4. simmer it for 2 mins and serve hot with Rice.

    You can have it as a soup by making it more liquid.

    Also, you have use it as a dip for tortilla’s. (we call indian tortilla’s as chapati).

    If you want to make a snack, soak any kind of lentil in wanter for 2 hours. Gring it coarsly with a small piece of ginger, 2 garlics, 1 chilli and salt.

    Bake it for 20 mins – A crispy indian snack is ready.

    Serve with sour cream.

  30. Rae says

    Great idea but I wouldn’t be able to do your menu because they are all Mexican-ish tasting and I’d go insane after 2 nights LOL. But something I like to do with beans is make them smooth in the food processor so that they don’t have the “bean” texture and then mix it into a little bit of ground beef/turkey/pork, add in extra seasonings (to compensate for the bland beans) and cook together so that the meat’s juices get soaked up. Then use it how you’d use the ground meat like to make spaghetti sauce, meatloaf (obviously you wouldn’t precook for this), stuffed manicotti, etc. You can hardly taste the difference if you do it right and are spending a lot less on meat plus getting the nutrition of the beans

  31. Samantha Valenzuela says

    I make our original pot of pinto beans with diced onions, grated garlic, cumin, 1 chopped green chili, 1 can of V-8 juice!!! The v-8 juice just gives it that oooomph!~

    Thanks sooo much for the bean pizza idea! I think that I will try that tonight for dinner! We are huge bean fans!

  32. says

    Crystal, Hi there!! I have a special selection at the top of my blog titled “Frugal Recipe Box” I just did a whole week long series on FRUGAL RECIPES using mainly beans. You can find these great recipes HERE:

    http://www.frugallivingandhavingfun.com/search/label/Frugal%20Recipe%20Box

    Every day-Every other day I post a Frugal Recipe both in time and in money, and usually VERY KID FRIENDLY. Please feel free to check them out and share any you would like or road test some of the recipes. All of my Family loves BEANS!! It is a huge staple in our house, and it is one more way to keep our food budget of $75.00 per week in tack. When I say $ 75.00 that is everything even things toiletries, and bath and body purchases.

    Great article!!

    Deb @ Frugal Living And Having Fun

  33. says

    Let me leave you with this WONDERFUL recipe that everyone LOVES in our house!! It is something your girls can make and feel like they made dinner that night. My 10 year old has been doing this since she was about 5 years old,but could have done it earlier with supervision.

    It is called Taco Soup:

    http://www.frugallivingandhavingfun.com/2009/08/frugal-recipe-box-taco-soup.html

    I know your family would love it. I prefer it without the meat, and it is just as good if not better, and more economical .