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Baking Day: Pinto Beans and Chicken Tetrazinni

Did you think I up and forgot about you? Nah, I just had to take a break for dinner and time with my husband. But everyone went down for an early bedtime so I'm trying to make the most of a quiet house!

Here's what I've done since my last update:

I bought this big 10-pound bag of Pinto Beans at Sam's Club on Saturday for just over $6 so I used some of it to make a big pot of Pinto Beans. You can read how I cook these up here.

Once the beans cool, I will divide them into two-cup portions in bags and freeze them. Then, whenever I make a recipe which calls for canned beans, I can just use these instead. It's much cheaper and better for you, too. In addition, it's so easy to do.

I didn't have any brown rice on hand, otherwise I would have cooked some of that up, too, and then stuck it in the freezer in two-cup portions as well. It's so simple to then pull out a bag of rice and a bag of beans and thaw them overnight to use for a healthful and very inexpensive meal of beans and rice. (You can set out bowls of corn chips, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese along with the beans and rice and let everyone build their own Mexican dinner on their plates. Or just serve plain beans and rice with cheese.)

In addition to the Pinto Beans, I made a double batch up Chicken Tetrazinni. This is an easy and inexpensive recipe which freezes well:

(For the record, this looks a whole lot better cooked than uncooked!)
Chicken Tetrazinni (serves 4-6)

2 cups spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 can cream soup (you can make your own with this recipe)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper (or red pepper, as I used this time since I had some given to us from a friend's garden!), chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

Saute onions and peppers in a little oil. Mix with the rest of the ingredients. Cool and put a freezer bag and freeze flat.

When ready to use, thaw and place in a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until heated through. (I like to sprinkle with additional cheese.)

I doubled the recipe and split it into 3 freezer bags as it will be enough for three dinners for us.

Next up: Lasagna and Spaghetti Pie (and I haven't forgotten about the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins; I just keep procrastinating on those!)

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  • Christina says:

    My husband’s family lives in Michigan and his mother goes a couple of times a year to visit. Once a year when she goes, we have her bring us a bag of pinto beans straight from the farm. They are much better than the ones from the store, which can be up to a couple of years old and they are much cheaper. $20 is the most we’ve ever paid for a 50 pound bag! (Just in case you ever make it to MI).

    When I get it, I portion them into quart-size storage bags to save space and to make it easier to cook them up. Any time that I cook them up I make a double batch and freeze half, since they take a whole day to cook.

  • Jessica C says:

    Wow, I wish I could do as much as you do. Is there really enough time your day to do everything you do? Between homeschooling, blogging, cooking, and Im sure you clean and make dinner too..when is your downtime? I cook, clean, run errands, and go to school online, and I feel like there arent enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. How do you do it?

  • Summer says:

    We love pinto beans here. I just throw them in the crock pot, cover with water, and cook on low all day. We enjoy beans and cornbread for dinner, then w/ the leftover beans we have bean and cheese burritos for lunch the next couple of days. So yummy!

  • carolyn kauffman says:

    Do you eat just plain pinto beans?

  • Kristina says:

    Do you have a deep freezer? I would love to cook up lots of food but I don’t have much space!

  • Macey says:

    That is awesome!…Maybe someday I will join in on baking day, instead of just observing. I did make a carrot cake from scratch today…it looks awful 😉 Hopefully a little frosting will hide the blemishes! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amy Bowman says:

    I love the idea of making beans and rice ahead of time! I have been making a huge pot of black beans every week that I use to make my hubby soup for work. It has saved us so much money, beans are so cheap! I will try your pinto beans, I’m getting tired of black beans.:) I enjoy reading your blog!

  • Erin says:

    We use a lot of black beans. Do you think I could do the same thing you did with a bag of black beans? Never thought about freezing them!

  • christine waltz says:

    This is going to sound like a dumb question but how long does rice last in the freezer and do you have any tips so the rice doesn’t get mushy/soggy? I have switched to bagged beans and short of forgetting to put the out to soak they are so much better than the canned. I recently have frozen them. Now I’m looking to expand on the idea and start freezing some things ahead.

  • Melissa says:

    I saw you mentioned in a couple posts that you were using things you had gotten at Sam’s Club. I’m curious how many things you ended up getting at Sam’s, and how the prices compared to post-coupon prices at the grocery store? Thanks!

  • Kellie says:

    You’ve mentioned buying a few things at Sam’s…so, did you decide to get vanilla, too? 🙂

  • Jen says:

    In your earlier baking day post, you mentioned having a variety of activities to keep your girls entertained during baking day. Could you share some of these ideas? I would love to try a baking day, but I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old and most days I’m so busy with them I barely get a chance to throw something quick together for dinner before my husband gets home. Did you do baking day when your girls were younger and what activities did you use to keep them entertained?

  • Lydia says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I don’t know if this would expedite your cooking days a little faster but, I also cook up beans ahead of time and freeze them — But I use my crockpot and cook them overnight.
    I soak them during the day, and then put them in the crock pot on low overnight. There is some excess water because it can’t boil off in there, so in the morning I dump them in a strainer and then measure them out. The beans do tend to be a bit smushier than normal, but that doesn’t bother me. And I think its great having the feeling that they just “magically” cooked themselves. It makes everything pretty snappy.

  • Olathe mom says:

    Wow! You are amazing!

  • Rachele says:

    We’re big tetrazzini fans here, too. In case you’re interested in a variation, we make ours with broccoli and mushrooms instead of peppers, and parmesan cheese instead of cheddar. I also like to add a bit of red wine to the sauce and change up the herbs every so often. When we bake ours up, I add a crumb topping of bread crumbs, butter, and more parmesan cheese.

  • linda says:

    I have really enjoyed this baking day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Diana says:

    Just curious to know your take on Sam’s club. I read the Prudent Homemaker’s view, but I’d also like to know if you’ll be making it a regular stop for your grocery needs.

  • elise says:

    Erin, yes you can do the same with black beans 🙂

    MSM, how many 2 cup portions did you get out of your $6 bag?

  • Ann says:

    I’ve been inspired!

  • Marie says:

    I always see that you when you do baking/cooking days and freeze things, you use a lot of ziploc bags. Do you reuse these bags? Do you get good buys on the bags and just throw them out? I know they are a space saver in the freezer, but reusable containers seem more economical. Can you share your thoughts? Thank you.

  • Janine Beardslee says:

    I’ve enjoyed your baking day and getting new recipes.

    I also really enjoyed your link to Jennie Chancey’s tips for making it thru the day without going insane. They were very encouraging. THANKS!!!!! Does she have her own blog? I’d love to hear some more of her wonderful wisdom.

  • Melanie says:

    I have been interested in freezing meals but not sure what would hold up well being frozen… thank you so much for sharing!!! I will be trying my hand at it now that I see how well it works for you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    (I know you didn’t use it NOW) but what kind of bread maker do you use? or do you even use one for baking?? we’re looking to buy one…..

  • I love to cook up all kinds of beans and freeze them too. It’s so easy and cheap, and they’re good for you! I’d love to hear what you thought of Sam’s Club…I am thinking of getting a membership there but not sure if it’s worth it.

  • Heather Kibiger says:

    You can boil pinto beans with some water down to mush. Take lid off to thicken while simmering if you want to thicken. Add salt to taste. And you got refried beans for burritos. Another cheap and healthy dinner or lunch. All four of my kids love this even when they were little. A smear of refried beans on a torilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll. Of course, as they get older they like toppings. And the refried beans freeze wonderful too. Come to think of it, you probably could make your own freezer burritos.

    ANother thing, beans can be added to dishes for a healthy way to stretch a meal.

    White beans are so mild that they can be a main ingredient in a soup. White beans cooked with onion, carrot, celery, potato, whatever veggie sounds good or leftovers veggies, chicken or veggie broth for the liquid,salt, pepper. Puree. Makes a healthy creamy soup that some kids will eat. Adults can add kick with red hot sauce.

  • Lea says:

    Marie – I’m not sure what area you are in but I live in Kentucky and have lots of stores that double coupons – My favorite is Meijer. 2 weeks ago they had their zip lock bags on sale 2/$4 and online had a Meijer coupon for $1.50/2 – that stacked with the $.40 MQ which doubled to $.80 each made the final price $.45 each for the 50 ct sandwitch, 30 ct quart, 24 ct 1/2 gallon or 24 ct gallon bags.

    I used to live in Nebraska and none or the stores doubled or stacked coupons there, completely different shopping opportunities 🙂

  • Diane says:

    Thanks for the ideas, you’re super woman!

  • Helene says:

    For those afraid of pinto beans 🙂 – A friend of mine showed me how easy it is. He has a Mexican clay pot (I read about finding out which ones have lead or not-google that-“mexican bean pot”) and he just puts a slice of onion (and salt to taste-he puts just enough, I always put too little) and water to cover, sets it at about medium to take it to a slow boil and leaves it cook for 2.5 to 3 hours. This is for about two cereal bowl size measures of dry beans. We check every 30 mins or so to see if it needs more water. When they are done he refries them for me. Slice of onion in the pan in oil-heat til very hot. Cooking spoon of beans into pan (will splatter) then gradually adds the rest. Cook to gentle boil, at some point mash, cook to desired consistency-I like cement thick but that’s me 🙂
    We start the dry beans around 7 am on Sundays. We also started buying large bags at the local (Chicago) stores-much cheaper than the store 1 pound bags but I love them so larger is justified.

  • Cori says:

    I would love it if you would share some of your pinto bean recipes with us. I followed the link back to your 2008 entry, but the blog you linked to for recipes has been shut down. I have a 10 lb bag of pinto beans from Sams that I would love to use, but I’ve been too afraid to even open! =D

  • Yvonne says:

    you rea my mind, i’m making beans today too! i always wait until chicken is on sale (got a package of split breasts for 2 dollars) bake that ad thro it in with the beans wth an onion, some garlic, hot sauce and whatever else i have on hand to make a yummy soup!

  • JenMarie says:

    Thanks for sharing!
    I’ve got this tetrazinni in the oven right now! …it smells yummy!
    God Bless!

  • Christy says:

    Would love to know from Christina, the first poster, where & from whom in Michigan are the pinto beans purchased? We’re currently on the hunt for bulk beans and the best price we have been able to find here in IN is $18 for a 25 lbs bag. Would love to snag a 50 lbs bag for $20!! Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much!! You can also email me at Thanks again!

  • Heidi says:

    Did I miss the posting for Banana Chocolate chip muffins? I love your recipes, they are great!!! I have 6 children and I’m always on the lookout for easy, ready to freeze/reheat meals!! Love your blog!! It’s my fave!!!

  • Katharine says:

    A pressure cooker works great for beans! I cook 2 pounds at once. Be sure to season AFTER they are cooked, then freeze in meal-sized portions. For us, that’s 2-3 c. We defrost in the fridge and then warm to serve with rice, in a tortilla, mash for refried black beans, add to soups, etc.

    here is my recipe for black beans:

    also, for homemade wheat tortillas (these also freeze well):

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