Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

How to Live on Beans and Rice for a Week

Live on Rice and Beans for a week! This frugal meal plan is SO creative!

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?

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Candice says:

    Thanks for this info! I was inspired by your bean cooking last week and did some Great Northern beans in my crock pot over the weekend. I have them in the freezer and these are some great ideas!

  • I love these ideas. My son is very picky but I can get him to eat blackbeans and kidney beans as long as there is some corn involved. One of my favorite recipes is where you take a skillet and toss in a can of black beans (drained), a can of kidney beans (drained), 1 cup of frozen corn, 1/2 cup of mild salsa, some cooked chicken (preferrably cooked with 1/2 a packet of taco seasoning) and mix them all together. Then you spray a baking dish and pour the mixture into the pan. Top with crushed tortilla chips and some cheddar cheese. You bake until hot and cheese is melted. I serve mine with a dallop of sour cream. My son loves this!

  • Julie K says:

    Italian Black Beans and Rice: Simmer equal parts black beans and Italian tomatoes. Serve over rice. You can also serve with grilled chicken (seasoned with garlic salt and Italian seasoning).

  • Mara says:

    @Julie: Thank you so much for the link to I can’t get enough of her videos!

  • Sarah B says:

    Thank you so much!!! As a single, I tend to fix one big pot of rice and beans on monday and eat the same thing all week. This will definitely add some spice/variety to my diet!

  • leann says:

    I have the easiest recipe ever!
    If you have a rice cooker, add a cup of rice, a cup of water, a can of diced tomatoes (undrained), a can of dark kidney beans (undrained), stir together.
    Cut up and fry some sausage (like hillshire farm links) and then throw that in the rice cooker with the mix.
    Press your cook button and when it pops up it’s done.
    EASY peasy red beans and rice!!!!

  • nicole m says:

    NEVER, not for a whole week. Got to give someone credit who would though.

  • betsy says:

    We love beans, here, too.

    I like to do them “country” the first day, with cornbread, then Mexican for the next several days (pinto, that is). But, we’ve never met a bean that we didn’t like.

    For those concerned about the intestinal problems, they do get better the more beans you eat! We eat beans a few times a week, and we never have any problems.

  • Jenny says:

    We’ve been on a beans and rice (plus lots of vegetables, fruits, and other whole grains; no fat and no meat) diet for just over 6 weeks. My husband’s choresterol has dropped from 240 (when last measured 2 years ago) to 142 (tested last Thursday) and he has lost 24 pounds. The soluble fiber in beans is great at reducing bad cholesterol. I’ve lost 11 pounds and feel 10 years younger. However, we are actually spending about $40 more a week on groceries because most of the foods I buy cannot be purchased with coupons. For more details on this diet, go to

  • Becky says:

    I cook a pot of beans once a week. My family loves them. I use my hand mixer to mash them up. We have bean burritos with spanish rice. We usually finish off the 2 lbs. that I cook during the rest of the week.

  • Lee Ann says:

    I wish I would have read this two weeks ago 🙂 Our church just did a week long beans and rice fast. Part of the goal was to take all grocery money to drill new wells in Nicaragua. Our goal was $8,000 which would be matched to drill two wells. Instead we reaised $34,000, which was also mached for 8 wells of clean water!!!! It was so worth the rice and beans for a week!

  • Gail says:

    Wonderful beans & rice crockpot recipe by the lady who used a crockpot every day for a year. Great way to use items you already have in the pantry, and not Mexican flavored as many beans & rice dishes are, so it is a nice change.

  • Lea Eaton says:

    I just wrote a blog post about this very thing yesterday… beans, kielbasa,onion and taco seasoning…. very yummy on a cold day!

  • Margery says:

    excuse me, did you say “pickle juice?”

  • Carol says:

    Just want to mention that although articles will tell you that the grain/bean combinations are a complete protein, you are still missing some essential amino acids that are critical for developemnt if you do not have any animal by-products in your diet. This is especially critical during pregnancy.


    • Teri Wells says:

      You can certainly get all you need in your diet without animal protein. As a nurse I have switched to a mainly plant based diet . Lots of nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables.

  • Jo Ann says:

    This may have been mentioned but I didn´t read everything. We put leftover chili or taco meat or any of the stuff mentioned, on a baked potatoe. No need to heat up the house, bake potatoes on grill for same amount of time as oven. Top potatoe and add cheese or I love adding ranch or ceasar dressing!

  • Tracy says:

    Can you do a post about boiling chicken? How do you do it and why do you do it over baking or grilling? Thanks!

  • Deborah says:

    We love beans and (whole grain) rice! We love how good they taste, how good they are for us, and how cheap they are! :o)

    Thanks for this post! Your ideas are helping to inspire me even more with some of my long-term goals.

    I’m going to check out some of the other comments here, too. (Thanks, ladies!)

    Here’s a Bean and Chorizo Soup recipe I came up with…

    I have a double batch simmering on my stove right now, and I’m thinking of making bean dip with some of the left-overs, too. And I’ll be working on further ideas for a week of beans and rice… Good challenge! :o)

  • WilliamB says:

    You’ve got Tex-Mex covered excellently well but there are so many other cuisines that use rice & beans. Or beans and other starches.

    I imagine you save bacon grease and meaty bones, so including them in these recipes is OK, right? Since you’re not *buying* meat to include.

    Moros y Christianos – cuban black beans (Moros = Moors) and white rice (Christianos = Christians) (you probably figured that one out already). Yum! Made with the cuban “trinity” (sorry that it’s a bit impious but that’s what the Cubans call it: sauteed onions, celery, green pepper) and some pork.

    Middle Eastern: falafel and hummus, both made with chickpeas. And bastard Middle Eastern, such as spanikopita (spinach turnovers made with filo dough) made with pureed beans as well as the spinach.

    Chinese: tofu (made from soy beans) braised in oyster or black bean sauce, over rice. Succeeds on “beans” part but probably fails on the “cheap” part. Unless you can shop in a Chinatown store that caters to Chinese and not Westerners.

    Indian: the possibilities are endless. Indian is one of the very few cuisines that is truly meatless (well, large parts of Indian; there’s plenty of meat dishes also) as opposed to using just a little meat (such as Chinese). Dal – different kinds of lentils – is very, very common and made a thousand different ways. None of which I know how to make (I hang my head in shame).

    You can also make a vegetarian version of the French cassoulet. The original is beans or lentils, and various sausages and is tasty beyond belief. The French get as enthusiastic as Americans do about barbeque!

    I like carmelized onions & garlic, black beans, some red wine vingar, and salt, served over brown rice. Simple comfort food.


    I think it’s time to get out my pressure cooker and make me a batch of black beans. I’m getting hungry.

    PS: the more you beans, the better your gut is at digesting it. In other words, more bean meals = less bean gas.

  • LMB says:

    Again your website comes through at just the right time. I got a diagnosis today and I need to go on a low-fat, low cal high fiber diet to combat what I have (or what it could turn in to). So the beans and rice recipes are great.

    One thing I like to make in minestrone with kidney beans (precooked or canned), tomato sauce/juice, onion, garlic, choice of veggies and meat if want. Throw it all in the slow cooker and let cook. I usually add pasta, but a rice would work as well, and some parmesan cheese.

    And I’m thinking your cheesy brown rice casserole that I’ve seen posted previously would work with beans in it as well.

    Looks like I’m going to have to head to Costco to stock up on beans. And maybe Beano…LOL.

  • Claudia says:

    Oh my goodness! I don’t usually post comments on anything but I just HAD to share this with you all! I’m from the Dominican Republic and my husband is from Puerto Rico. We eat rice and beans everyday! That is the base for most of our foods! The difference between our caribean rice and Mexican rice is that they add cumin so it gives it a different flavor. We eat rice with all kinds of vegetables and meats. The base for our sauce is usually tomato and we add “adobo” and “Sazon con achiote”. The Adobo is not what filipino’s call adobo… it is a bit different. It is a combination of dry ingredients that are varied according to ones taste but the basics are – powder; Garlic, onion, salt, parsley, black pepper. We also use Sofrito and that is a homemade paste that includes basically lots of; Cilantro, Garlic, Onion, Bell Peppers and either wine or vinegar.

    With regards to eating beans everyday and having unpleasant side effects, it is just a matter of your system getting used to all the fiber. In the U.S we don’t eat a lot of fiber so just take it easy and add it slowly until your body gets used to it.

    Rice and beans can be eaten sweet too… in the Dominican Republic we eat sweet beans during the Christmas and Lent seasons…it is called “Habichuelas con dulce” same with Rice “Arroz con leche”. There are various ways to prepare them and all are very tasty!

    If you are interested in a variety or rice and beans dishes you can also google Cuban, Puerto Rican, and/or Dominican recipies.

  • Paurian says:

    Surprised nobody’s mentioned Louisiana fare. Red beans and rice and Jumbo.

  • Jeanie says:

    Take the beans, mash them up. Add a little dab of flour and chopped onions. Drop by spoonfuls in a hot greasy skillet and fry them up. Bean patties.

  • amanda says:

    1. Drain and rinse all cans of beans. Purée 1 can of beans with half of the chicken broth. In a small pan, sauté the chopped onion and ham in the butter for 10 minutes. Combine the purée, the sautéed ingredients, and two remaining cans of beans in a sauce pan and cook until heard through.
    Serves 4

    3 cans Great Northern beans
    1 Can Chicken broth
    1 Small Onion
    8 Ounces petite diced ham
    2 Tbsp Butter

  • Cindy says:

    I personally like to top my Black Bean Burgers with Chili and Cheese and serve them on Toasted Rolls. Pure decadence!

  • Missy says:

    My family loves Mexican pizza, or at least that is what we name it. We smear cooked pinto beans with garlic and taco seasoning on the crust, add some chilies, cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives, and cheese. When it comes out of the oven, add shredded lettuce avocado spread and/or sour cream.

    I have found that rolled rice wraps with lots of veggies and rice are called spring rolls (make a peanut butter sauce or use premade jar sauce). Also, the cooked version of this with flour wrap can be called egg rolls. There are a ton of versions on youtube.

    Also, Cuban beans on rice are awesome. But, we also love soups with veggies and beans, and variations of hummus with cooked flour breads for dipping.

  • Desiree says:

    This is great! The prudent homemaker has also shared a 2 week rice and bean menu (we all love her white bean alfredo sauce! ) Maybe I will combine that menu with yoursnand Ruth’s, and try it for 4 weeks, lol! (Everyone in my family LOVES beans, thankfully! AND they have more antioxidants than berries. Talk about super food!)

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *