Guest post from Kelly of KellyWiggains.com
How do you make frugal meals if you can’t use beans?
When I first started menu planning, shopping sales at the grocery store, and learning about the grocery game, every single site, every blog post, every sample menu plan featured beans — and for good reason. Beans are incredibly healthy, incredibly cheap, and incredibly versatile.
One problem: My husband hates beans. He says eating beans is like eating “little packages of dirt.”
I’ve tried every variety, texture, and flavor combination in the bean repertoire, and I’ve yet to change his mind. So I’ve finally figured out ways I can still have a frugal budget and avoid serving beans to my husband.
1. Beans at Lunch
My husband may not like beans, but my boys and I love them (unfortunately, my daughter stands firm in the anti-bean club). I often make bean-and-cheese burritos, nachos, or beans and rice for lunch. I love making a huge batch of refried beans in the crockpot (using this recipe) and portioning the beans into freezer bags.
2. Add Beans Last
Anytime I make something requiring beans, I figure out a way to include the beans as an option. Mexican Stack-Up, Taco Salad, Chili, Build Your Own Burritos/Fajitas/Chalupas — these are all cheap and tasty meals, and I can make my kids’ plates heavy on the beans and my husband’s heavy on everything else.
3. Double the Rice
The second half of the beans-and-rice budget doesn’t have to play second fiddle. My husband loves rice, and I find ways to use rice as much as I can.
4. Blended Black Beans
I’ve added pureed black beans to our favorite brown bag burritos. My husband noticed the flavor, but he didn’t mind it as much as usual. If you have a bean-hater in your family, see if you can sneak some blended ones into your burrito filling.
I would also encourage you to find other frugal meals that make your family happy. My husband happily eats the following:
1. Roasted Chicken
I can get a whole chicken on sale for under a dollar a pound. My family loves roasted chicken as well as chicken salad, quesadillas, chicken and rice, and chicken tacos from the leftovers.
2. Breakfast for Dinner
One of our standbys — we usually make pancakes or waffles with a side of scrambled eggs and sometimes sausage or bacon when it’s on sale.
3. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Though my husband gets funny looks in the teachers’ lounge, one of his standard lunches includes 2 hard-boiled eggs, a hunk of cheddar cheese, an apple or pear, and some saltine crackers. Eggs are a super simple and healthy protein alternative for the bean-hater.
4. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches on Homemade Rolls
I buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts for about 99 cents a pound on sale. I can make these into boneless skinless chicken breasts using this method, or I can remove the skin from one breast and cook it in a crockpot with BBQ sauce. I shred the meat with two forks. I make up some of these 40 Minute Dinner Rolls, and we have a tasty and frugal meal using only one big chicken breast for my family of 5.
5. Chicken-Fried Rice
For this classic skillet meal, I use leftover rice, leftover chicken, a bag of frozen veggies, an egg and some soy sauce. My husband loves it!
Do you have a bean-hater in your family? If so, how do you still eat on a beans-and-rice budget?
Kelly blogs about everything from Literature to Living. An English teacher by trade, Kelly left the classroom a few years ago, but she still tries to convince those around her to read and write. She loves to connect her reading to the real world around her. Her blog is a place for book lovers and book skeptics alike, offering concise book recommendations, tips for reluctant readers, along with stories and observations about her life. Kelly writes at kellywiggains.com.
He says eating beans is like eating “little packages of dirt.” That is so funny!!
😂 -Jordan, MSM Team
What about for a husband that doesn’t like oats? There are lots of great, frugal, healthy breakfast ideas I’d love to make if only he would eat oats. 🙁
Thankfully rice and beans are a go!
I like beans if I cook them. I find that (for my tastes at least) most people overcook green beans and undercook dry beans. Dry beans should be smooth in texture never gritty or grainy. This is accomplished by longer cooking times. Try starting your beans in the crock pot the day before you intend to eat them for the evening meal. Putting the beans in the oven overnight (about 250°F) also works. Just be sure to use excess water and a tight fitting lid.
Kathy Davenport says
I could eat beans or peas and rice almost any day. My husband is fine with beans. He’s not that fond of rice although he’ll eat it occasionally.
I thought I was alone in the fact that I need to be on a rice and bean budget meal plan, but my husband is allergic to beans!!! I call him the worst Mexican in the world 😉 unfortunately my kids aren’t fond of beans, but I love them so! Maybe I’ll try to add them last more often so they can try them more. Thanks!
I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum. I’m not big on beans, but my hubs loves them. Flip side, I could eat rice with every meal, but he thinks having it once a month is too often. I’ve been trying to find more ways to serve beans without them being boring. That’s my problem with them. They are boring.
Ashley @ Simplisticated says
I can’t imagine why your husband gets the side-eye for his lunch. Bento boxes are all the rage and super-fun! We do them three or four times a week.
This post just showed up in my newsfeed on Facebook and it is certainly timely. I am not in the “hates beans” camp, so much as the “Gets bored of beans eventually” camp. Since I don’t hate them, I go for recipes where beans are an important ingredient but not necessarily the “shining star.” I have been making a crockpot Southwest style veggie soup (a can each of black beans and corn, whatever veggies I have on hand, and some crushed tomatoes, then fill up the pot w/ broth and cook) even though the beans are definitely an important ingredient, I find that in a dish like that it’s balanced enough that I don’t find myself thinking “beans, beans, beans.”
Some of my other frugal favorites are – pasta, baked rice dishes (I do rice w/ cream of mushroom soup and frozen broccoli or cauliflower and just bake, even without putting meat in it, i still find it pretty hearty), eggs, potato/veggie pancakes, grilled sandwiches
I actually googled “beans and rice budget when you hate beans”.
My husband hates beans. I didn’t realize I would actually come up with something if I was that specific! lol
I add refried beans to my home made chili and nobody notices a thing! There’s no flavor or texture & it adds great protein so there isn’t a need for a bunch of meat. I do add about 1 lb of ground beef or chicken for a crockpot full though.
Also, to add more protein I mix my brown rice with millet. Millet is Very very nutritious. My family doesn’t really like it though, so I use at least twice the amount of rice as I do millet. I also like putting it in soups (they don’t mind it in there) to add protein. Basically if they don’t see me put stuff in & they can’t really taste/see it, then it’s great.
Sometimes, it helps to have hubby come grocery shopping with you, so they can see what the bill is for so many dinners with meat. They may not have any concept of how expensive things are at the store. Once they realize what the prices are, you might be surprised to hear they are suddenly ok with a meatless dinner a few times a week. 🙂
One of my favorite quick and easy bean recipes-
1 can of refried beans
1/2 a jar of salsa (your texture, style, heat and amount can all be changed up)
6-8 oz of cheddar cheese, shredded- again this can be altered to more or less
1 large spoonful of sour cream (again, more or less to taste- do you see a theme in my cooking here )
mix it all in a microwavable dish- heat for 5 minutes (may need to stir in the middle) and serve w chips or tortillas… ta-da!
5-10 minutes till dinner, and it’s almost all in your pantry. Also, I have three kiddos, so I give them a scoop of bean dip and a handful of chips with a rule, “No more chips until all the bean dip is gone.” My littlest is my most adventurous eater and he would just eat it w a spoon, no chips 🙂
happy momma says
We have started eating differently at our home. It has been a challenge at times, but is full of surprises. I have learned that if you make trying new foods fun, it makes a big difference. I also put out the “vibe” that they will like this new food. If you cater to the kids all the time and only expect them to like “kid food” they will not learn to like “grown up” foods. My kids are spoiled they like almost all types of foods. we eat well on a rice and bean budget without the rice and beans. I coupon, and I buy in bulk when it is cheap. I have learned some real skills at making several meals from one. My kiddos love when mom makes surprise meals from leftovers in the fridge. Mom specials are really great.
The Prudent Homemaker says
Have you tried white beans? What about lentils! Have you blended white beans in a soup?
My husband likes this pasta e fagioli soup, and he doesn’t really care for soup: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/recipes/beans
You could try buying more than 2 turkeys. Turkeys this month and hams next month are a great place to stock up on meat for the year.
Alisha @ The Savvy Bump says
How funny – my hispanic husband is the opposite! He could (and sometimes does) happily eat beans at every meal.
My husband will eat beans but, he sometimes complains. We very rarely buy meat. Somethings I make with beans
– sloppy joe’s (out of light kidney beans)
– chicken salad (using chickpeas)
– bean burgers (usually using black beans)
Also usually any mexican dish you can increase the bean amount and leave out the meat.
I laughed when I saw this post. I don’t like beans either! Not only that but beans have a lot of carbs in them and if your counting them for a diabetic diet or trying to lose weight….
I fed my family well on little money with very few beans included.
Casseroles with meat as a secondary ingredient.
Lentils mixed in with ground beef to stretch it. They will not notice a taste difference and the texture is some what the same. Just rinse them well before you add them to take out some of the flavor and that ever so disgusting sludge.
Seasonal vegetables and fruits.
My hubby doesnt like beans OR rice. 🙁
So a meat & potatoes…it is REALLY hard! But glad to see mine isnt the only one!
I hear you!
I have a husband that can’t tolerate beans,
A special needs child that will only do butter beans on occasion and will only eat selective foods, and two kids anaphylactic to peanut butter, and a baby that’s also allergic to eggs, sunflower seeds (all seeds), (all nuts), and several fruits and grains.
What a great post! We also eat some kind of egg dish at least once a week for dinner, as well as always having hard-boiled eggs in the fridge to snack on or for lunch. We eat meat in meals, but rarely as a main dish. Way to keep at it as it would have been easy to give up instead of thinking “outside the box”.
I am all for blending beans into things. We eat ground turkey instead of ground beef because it is cheaper. I make a crock pot of kidney beans and freeze them in ziplock bags. When I make mini meatloaves and meatballs, I mash some kidney beans and blend them in. My husband, who is a big meat eater, said he didn’t even notice and that I can do it anytime. I do have to give my husband credit for adapting. He used to eat beef, bacon, boneless chicken breasts, and scallops, but now it is chicken legs/thighs for 59 cents per lb, ground turkey for $1.49 a 12 oz roll, ham when it is .99 per lb, pork when it is under $2, turkey bacon, whole turkeys when they’re .79 per lb or less, and fish. I buy big bags of chicken leg/thighs and my husband trims off the skin and fat and whole hams and pork butts/loins that he cuts to portion and we freeze. We eat a turkey every few months and use it in several meals.
$1.49 for 12 oz is equivalent to $1.99 pound. I occasionally see ground beef for that price.
Jessica @Proverbslady.com says
My husband is also a bean hater, It drives me a little nuts. I have also felt frustrated with having to forgo these frugal options in my meals.
My husband does love rice but he is also diabetic so doubling up on the rice is not an option for us. In fact I have not found a really great alternative for beans on my budget.
Sigh….. I just keep hunting for great deals on other things my husband will eat.
Frugal Cook says
I hate beans and I always have. It is a texture issue for me, as Rachael mentioned. Which means all beans are equally despised, and the texture does not go away when pureed or “hidden”. Even hummus is unbearable to me. I’ve tried all the types, I’ve tried to learn to like them.
For some reason it is like an offense to many people. People actually get a little mad at me sometimes! I would like to suggest to those of you with family who do not like beans that you exhibit patience with them. It is not their fault beans seem like the ideal answer to cheap meals to others. Most people have a few foods they cannot abide.
Eating cheaply without beans is just the norm for me. I’ve never had any trouble doing so. One tip us to find out what day your grocery store puts out marked down meats. Also, be sure to always check the clearance rack at your store. Some stores mark down bakery items, too.
Another tip is to pop two a few pieces of chicken on the bone (along with celery, carrot, onion and garlic) in the stock pot to make broth. Use the broth to make rice. Steam some broccoli in a bit of the broth. Shred the chicken onto the rice, add some broccoli and broth, along with salt and pepper. Very easy, very healthy, very inexpensive. And even though it sounds bland, it is tasty and filling And we never get bored with it.
Baked potatoes are inexpensive dinners. You can add hearty toppings. Everyone can choose how they want to dress theirs.
Has he tried roasted vegetables? I’m not a fan of squash, but found that I don’t mind it roasted with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Squash keeps well and will be on sale around Thanksgiving. Turnip, too!
my husband hates beans too! Especially black beans, which of course are my favorite. I struggle with coming up with cheap non-bean recipes but this has given me some ideas… Thanks so much!
Its not beans, its legumes. And its not the flavor, its the texture! (same for squash, except squash bread like pumpkin bread) And the texture carries through no matter what, I’ve found. I can handle a bit of hummus and a bit of lentils. Red kidney beans I can do in chili, if there aren’t too many. Luckily, I don’t eat a lot, I guess!
Tara H says
Ha! I was going to say something clever about how you wrote this post for me, but I see I’m not alone in the “my husband hates beans” category! 😉
Great post! Thanks for sharing your ideas!
Kelly Wiggains says
I’m thinking we may need a support group! I had no idea this was so common.
Stephanie @ Stephanie's Az Kitchen says
We are from the South so beans and cornbread have been
Soul-food. Beans are not a big part of our diets now because the side effects are too difficult to deal with even with Beano.
A balanced diet of vegetables and fruit with small portions of protein along with some whole grains are important to maintain healthy blood sugars for a lot of us so meals heavy in carbs are not possible often.
Our meals are mostly vegetables and animal protein; we eat very small amounts of beans and grains. I save money by buying vegetables in season and on sale. We eat a lot of roasted root veggies in the winter!
We avoid plant most plant proteins for health reasons, but I’ve found organ meats to be an amazingly healthy, cheap protein. I hate the taste of liver myself, but I puree it and sub it for 1/4 to 1/2 of the ground meat in spicy dishes. Heart (as a muscle meat) tastes almost like other muscle meat and can sub in almost any ground meat dish. Tongue is our favorite – poached tongue is delicious! I can get these meats dirt cheap and it makes a huge difference without compromising on taste or nutrition.
People freak out when i tell them that eating tongue is very common in my country. I haven’t had it in years so maybe when my mom comes visit in a month I’ll look for it in a Mexican grocery store and ask her to make it now that you reminded me of it. It will be fun to see my husband’s reaction! She makes it stuffed with bacon, i think she makes a hole that goes from front to back, puts whole slices of bacon and baked it in the oven. We then slice it and each slice has a little bacon in the middle. I also like chicken hearts and I’m sure most people here think it’s insane too. Those are the only 2 i like other than regular cuts but in my country basically everything from an animal (cow, chicken, pig) goes in the grocery store.
Karen Humphrey says
Chicken hearts are great. We used to get them breaded and fried from a small grocery store, but they are great cooked at home. Can be added to stuffing.
Where do you find beef liver and tongue “dirt cheap”? They are both around $3/lb. where I’ve looked, which is not any cheaper than ground beef.
Great ideas! Do you have to let the brown bag burritos cool before you put them into the fridge/freezer?
Kelly Wiggains says
I’m not sure about “have to,” but I usually do.
I am the one in my house who is not a big bean fan. The chili recipe I use has very few beans in it. The last time I made it all three of my kids told me it needed more beans! I will gladly add them next time since beans are so good for you!
Mrs. W says
What a great practical post! Wonderful ideas. Thank you for sharing!
My family doesn’t hate beans, but they do like for me to include seafood in our meals. It sounds impossible, but we do it! By incorporating smaller amounts in dishes like salmon pot pie, shrimp cakes, and scallop risotto, we can enjoy the taste and health benefits of seafood on a beans-and-rice budget.
jackie Brown says
Thanks for sharing these great tips and recipes, Kelly! I pinned them allI love to make beans, too, but my kids are great fans of them. I wanted to share an easy way of no-peeling hard boiled eggs if you have trouble with them. I’ve posted tips and tricks here: http://momonamission.me/worlds-easiest-boiled-eggs/
I have a bean-hating husband who is also allergic to chicken! So I make those items for myself & our 21 month old and splurge on fish & pork for him. He also gets some red meat too but I try to make that go further as well–add shredded carrots to ground beef for extra bulk but also extra nutrients and you can’t taste it. With steaks, I’ll buy in bulk & freeze them individually but also 1 steak is usually 2 meals for him (who needs a 10-12 oz steak in one sitting?) or even cut it up and use it in stir fry in which case I can get 4 meals with the added rice & veggies.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone with an allergic husband-beans and chicken here!
Kelly Wiggains says
I add shredded carrots, plus bell pepper, and onion to my ground beef all the time. I agree. You can’t taste the carrots!
Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans says
I have a different problem…I am allergic to most beans. The exceptions are great white northern and whatever beans are in canned baked beans. (On a side note, I would definitely experiment with different types of beans before giving up on someone eating them.) Scrambled eggs (with homemade pancakes, French toast, etc.) is our usual “beans and rice” meal, and I make it on evenings my husband isn’t home for supper since he doesn’t like to eat eggs that often.
My husband WILL NOT eat carrots, and I have pureed half a can of carrots to add to casseroles. His only comment was that it seemed redder than usual. I’m going to let him eat it a few more times before I tell him of my deception. 😉
I occasionally add up to 1/4 cup of oatmeal to ground meat while it is browning–it’s a small stretch, but it helps a little.
If you use ground turkey (I prefer it, and usually find it cheaper than the very lean ground beef my husband likes), add McCormick’s Steak Seasoning to the meat to add flavor.
When I buy something like cottage cheese to use in a recipe, I have another recipe in mind to make in the next few days since I only use 1/2 the container at a time…so I’m not throwing away old cottage cheese that won’t otherwise be eaten around here.
Kelly Wiggains says
Those are good tips. And I agree with testing a variety of beans. I’ve tried most.
Its northern white beans used in most baked beans
Amanda H says
We eat a lot of oatmeal (3-4 days a week), we also add rice, beans, barley, lentils to most soups and they last so much longer. Black beans are wonderful in so much because they take on the taste of the seasonings you use. I used 1/2 lb ground beef, and 3 cups of pureed black beans plus seasonings and oatmeal to make black bean burgers. No one complained or even mentioned them tasting different. Same with meatloaf.
Most will call this mean but when the budget is extremely tight the kids/hubs have learned to eat what I put in front of them or do without. When this happens your 3 year old learns to like split pea soup, lentil tacos, chili and other previously “gross” foods.
Kelly Wiggains says
Yes, I agree that sometimes the family just needs to “suck-it-up-buttercup” and just eat something they don’t like. However, after trying a variety of dishes and throwing out food that was never eaten, I’ve learned that some hills just aren’t worth dying on. For the most part, my husband and kids aren’t super picky, and I’m grateful for that. I think it’s all in balance. I love split pea soup, and I’m sure I would like lentil tacos, too. Thanks for your comments!
My husband has gout, so he must avoid beans at all costs! Thanks for the great tips!
A. Heish says
Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one! Our grocery budget is super tight, and while I love beans, my husband and sometimes the girls too, would rather starve than have to eat them. We do a lot of the same, too, breakfast dinners, hardboiled eggs, chicken. Also grilled cheese with soup. Amazingly they eat beans and many kinds of forbidden veggies as long as it is in soup – just not bean soup. 🙂 We also go through a lot of peanut butter. It does force you to be creative.
Carol O. says
This time of year, turkey is the cheapest protein you can buy. Take a whole turkey and break it down into breasts and then dark meat pieces. These are SOOOO much bigger than chicken pieces and can be used one at a time for meals. Turkey breast works in place of chicken breast in anything you can think of and at 79 cents per pound, you can not beat that. Also, after removing most of the meat, boil whole carcass in stock pot for 24 hours to make amazing bone broths to freeze and use in soups and stews later. Never buy chicken stock again! 🙂 Bone broths are so healthy and economical, rice or noodles go far in soups.
Kelly Wiggains says
I always buy a turkey or two during this time of year, and I definitely make stock with it, too!
My husband hates beans also, as well as rice, pasta, tomato sauce and many other staples of a frugal pantry. He mainly likes things that are just meat. Steak, fish, meatloaf, bratwurst, burgers, etc. I get very burnt out trying to cook to his tastes and stay in the budget. Any tips?
Here’s one of my husband’s favorites, Shrimp Cakes: http://roots-of-simplicity.blogspot.ca/2012/07/savory-shrimp-cakes.html Also, it sounds like your husband is a good candidate for Paleo recipes.
Kelly Wiggains says
My best suggestion is buy meat in bulk and on sale. And buy veggies in season to cut down on costs. Then, add rice/pasta, etc. to fill up your not-so picky ones. Good luck!
There are a lot of fillers that one can add to meatloaf (beans, carrots, peppers, etc.). I have switched from ground beef to ground turkey and my family likes it. I really like to top the meatloaves and turkey burgers with BBQ sauce. My husband is a big meat eater, too, but finances caused him to adapt. We now buy beef, brats, and chicken wings just for special occasions and when there are sales. We buy cheap white fish and season it well. Luckily, he likes pasta, rice, etc.
If your husband likes meat, but finances don’t allow for it, sounds like it’s time for a talk about his ‘requirements’ versus what can be afforded. “If he isn’t bringing home the bacon, you can’t fry it up in a pan…” Or, might be time to ask him what budget areas he’d consider giving up in order to have more steak and other expensive cuts of meat in lieu of beans…some hobby? cable tv? eating out? data plan on his phone? And for those who would rather starve than eat beans…after missing a couple of meals, they’ll reconsider on the beans…ask me how I know 🙂
What a wonderful list! I had to get creative for my husband as well when it came to cutting down on eating so much meat. I’ve learned to make veggie burgers and use Bocca when I make pasta dishes!
Thanks for these great ideas! I, too, have a bean hater husband.
Kelly Wiggains says
Sure thing! Solidarity!
Have you tried making homemade hummus with various flavors? It is chickpeas, but I personally don’t think hummus tastes anything like chickpeas in their whole form. Hummus with vegetable dippers is an easy, healthy meal.
Kelly Wiggains says
I love hummus!
Thank you!! My husband is allergic to legumes and poultry-two of the healthiest and cheapest proteins available. I often have to automatically rule out half the recipes in a frugal blog or cookbook. I love your ideas, especially the “add beans last”.
Kelly Wiggains says
Oh, bless your heart! I’m very thankful I can use chicken.
Great ideas! I will have to remember these for sure. I’m on the other end… I’m not a rice person :/ but I have found that egg noodles are a good substitute in most dishes.
Peggy R says
I have been getting away with Lentils… I added some to vegetable soup – cooked for a long time they disappear and make the soup hearty – I used the orange ones so they didn’t make a funny color. I have also pureed beans and added them to the soup or stew. Garbanzos and cannellini are mild and you can’t tell the color! I put a scoop in with the water to make the rice and then some gravy covers them up… Don’t tell my kids but I put wheat germ in their pancakes too! Along with pumpkin puree and anything else healthy I can get in there. Oh the deception!!! (But it’s good for them)
Kelly Wiggains says
I haven’t thought about adding pureed beans for soup. My husband doesn’t like soups much either (another post for another time), except for chicken and dumplings and homemade chicken noodle. I might have to try that trick, too. Thanks!
I add puréed cannelloni beans to pasta fagioli. My kids don’t like chunks in their food, but I make this soup with onion, carrots, celery and tomato sauce. With the pasta and beans , it is cheap and healthy. You can add diced tomatoes if your family doesn’t mind them.
No soup either? Are our husbands related? Lol
If you replace part of the white flour for some garbanzo bean flour (just ground up garbanzo beans) you can’t tell the difference! I also use garbanzo Flour in place of white flour(or corn starch) to thicken Alfredo sauces, gravies, etc. 🙂
Stephanie @ Stephanie's Az Kitchen says
Beans to thicken sauces… amazing idea. Thanks! My husband hates beans. My son and I eat them probably 2-3 times a month in various ways but unless its completely hidden my husband will avoid them like a kid trying to sneak the dreaded vegetable off his plate and into a napkin.
Lol. My son needs to go on a high fiber diet so it is time for me to start blending brown rice and whole wheat flour. Thanks to sales and coupons, it is easy to get whole wheat pasta.
Kayla@Renown and Crowned says
These are excellent. My husband is a fellow bean hater — creativity is key!
Kelly Wiggains says
Yes. I have to stay on my toes. Thank goodness for the internet!