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How to Eat Beans Every Night


My vegetarian readers can stop laughing at the title now and be prepared to add lots of awesome comments.

For the rest of you, who need to eat on a beans and rice budget, but don't want to eat beans and rice every night, I hope you'll enjoy these ideas for having a variety of meals.

First of all, it helps to have several kinds of beans in your pantry. I stock pinto beans, white beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and mung beans. Don't forget that peas and beans are both sources of protein, so you could have pea soup one night as well.

I buy beans in bulk (25 pound bags) to get them for less. They usually cost me .65 a pound, and since they double in size when cooking (except lentils and peas), you are really getting them for .325 a pound. Need some ideas for bulk sources (including those that deliver)? Check out some bulk sources here.

If you do a search for bean recipes, two difficulties usually arise. One is that many bean recipes contain meat as an ingredient, and the other is that they almost always contain cheese. Both of these ingredients tend to defeat the purpose of eating beans from a frugality standpoint. While you could add cheese or meat to the following recipes, none of them call for it.

Every one of these recipes can be made strictly from pantry ingredients, so if you cannot afford to go shopping right now, don't despair! You can serve up this menu for the week with plenty of variety.

Monday: Bean and Rice Burritos, with either pinto beans or black beans. My husband is actually the one who first got me started in eating bean burritos. My children absolutely love them, and my daughter asked if we could have them today, so we did!

Tuesday: Minestrone Soup, using white beans and kidney beans. French Bread at .25 a loaf makes a wonderful accompaniment. This is a great place to throw in some zucchini in summer or potatoes in winter. This is my children's favorite soup, and we usually eat it once a week. It's not a meal that my husband cares for, however, so you're more likely to see it on my lunch menus than my dinner menus. Just because your husband may not like a particular meal doesn't mean it has to be eliminated from the menu. Just move it to lunch.

Black Bean Burgers 540

Wednesday: Black Bean Burgers. I like these with tomatoes from the garden when I have them. Don't only think ketchup; these are fantastic with some barbecue sauce or some homemade steak sauce. A side of homemade pickles and oven-baked fries can round out the meal. Eating from your pantry? Have applesauce instead of fries.

Thursday: Rosemary White Bean Soup, or, if you have a bit more in your budget, have Pasta e Fagioli instead. Rosemary Olive Oil Bread at .30 a loaf is a nice addition to the meal. Fruit Salad makes a refreshing dessert.

Friday: Stir Fry. Make it meatless and use sprouted mung beans and/ or sprouted lentils (start sprouting them on Monday for Friday's dinner). In summer I'll make this with Swiss chard from the garden. If I have bell peppers, those go in too. In fall I'll include celery when it goes on sale. In the spring, I use sugar snap peas from the garden.

Saturday: Lentil Tacos. Lentils cook up quickly, making this a fast meal. I use tomatoes from the garden when I have them, and if I can buy lettuce in summer I'll buy lettuce for this, since it doesn't grow here past May. In fall we'll have lettuce again, and come late November/Early December it cools off for tomatoes again, so we'll have both lettuce and tomatoes from the garden then. Depending on when our first frost comes (anywhere from Mid-November to mid-December), we'll either have tomatoes picked fresh from the garden or ripening indoors from being picked green.

Sunday: Beans and Rice. I'll take cooked pinto beans, add lots of water, with lime juice and onions, and cook them again until they're a slightly soupy mix. Serve over plain white rice (I buy that in bulk as well for .33 a pound) with fresh tomatoes from the garden on top. The dollar store usually has a pack of 12 limes for a $1. (I've also made this using canned lime juice and canned tomatoes when needed). I first had this meal in Geneva, Switzerland. A sister from church invited my missionary companion and I for lunch, and this is what she served to us. It was the first time I had ever eaten rice and beans, and I loved it! When I was back at college making this meal again, my Mexican roommate's mother was visiting. She was standing in the kitchen while I was cooking. She looked at my meal and said would be so much better if I just added some lime juice. I tried it the next time, and I've been making it that way ever since.

Next Monday: Add a little cheese this time (it's Parmesan, so you can keep this in your pantry if you get the shelf-stable variety), and have White Bean Alfredo Sauce over pasta.


Taco Soup TPH

Next Tuesday: Taco Soup. No need for meat in this one! I spent a semester doing a cooking swap every night between the 6 girls in my apartment and an apartment of guys down the street.  This was one of the meals the guys made at least twice a month.

Next Wednesday: Chili. There are ton of chili recipes out there, and so far my family seems to like them all. Remember that chili doesn't have to have meat in it to be delicious. Chili is one of my husband's favorite bean dishes.

Need more information on cooking beans

(Of course, beans aren't the only way to go meatless. Other great meatless meals that we love: Fried zucchini with homemade ranch dressing, tomato cheddar cracker sandwiches, pasta salad, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, mock chicken fried steak, soups, tomato basil sandwiches, salads of all varieties, tomato pizza, zucchini potato pancakes, and more!)

There are more great bean meals out there that are easy on the budget, like red beans and rice, baked beans and cornbread, falafel, navy bean soup, lentil soup, black bean soup, hummus and pitas, bean enchiladas, etc. 

So let's have beans for every meal!

What are your favorites? Feel free to add your links in the comments.

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  • Unknown January 14, 2014

    We really like this recipe for Vegan Split Pea Sou...

    We really like this recipe for Vegan Split Pea Soup (lots of flavor too!) The recipe calls for barley & potatoes, but I usually just use rice (brown or white):http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vegan-Split-Pea-Soup-I/It has been a while since I've used lentils, they just weren't that big of a hit here at our home. I can't stand Indian style flavored dishes (wish I did) so I tend to stick to more Mexican or Italian flavored bean recipes. I love the ideas posted above about chickpeas. That is one I've never tried and I just saw a video the other day explaining a recipe using them with quinoa and roasted veggies. Brandy, I just want to compliment you on the quality of blog you run here and the integrity you have. I so appreciate that you make your information available to all at no cost. It kind of irks me when a money saving website is screaming at you with ads and ebooks. I know people need to make a living. Yet with you, I think I would actually fork over the money because you are just so darn likable. =) I forget, do you have an affiliate link with Amazon? I would be more than happy to buy my products through your link to help you out. Hugs!

  • Marisa December 05, 2016

    I made this pea soup. It turned out perfect.

    Brandy...I also made the black bean burgers and Rosemary white bean soup . Both were excellent and we have added both into our monthly meal plan.

    Traveling to Spain this September reminded me of how many cultures have beans in the cuisine. It is really fun and delicious cooking meals that have a different flavor profile then the regular American diet.

    Thank you for the wonderful website!

  • LLLittle January 14, 2014

    I make "chicken" and dumplings a lot. I...

    I make "chicken" and dumplings a lot. It's basically stock, cream of chicken, celery, onion, carrots, and flat/slick dumplings. It costs almost nothing to make but is so filling. I usually shred 1/2 a small chicken breast or thigh (whatever I have) and toss that in as the chicken part. Once shredded it seems like there's a bunch of chicken in there, little does my family know that they're sharing about a 2 oz portion :)

  • Maria Leticia August 26, 2013

    Ah, that rice and beans meal is almost the everyda...

    Ah, that rice and beans meal is almost the everyday meal in Brazil! And that combination (rice, beans, tomate, lime) is my favorite, just adding some garlic on top of it. About beans meals, that is more a snack, but have you ever tried "falafel"? It's made with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and it's fabulous! Love your blog and I must try those black beans burgers! Thank you so much for sharing all those lovely ideas (both you and your commenters)

  • The Prudent Homemaker August 14, 2013

    We primarily use lentils in tacos for meatless tac...

    We primarily use lentils in tacos for meatless tacos. Before I was married I made lentil soup quite often but my family did not like that. I haven't found another lentil recipe that they like quite as much. Lentils are more per pound (around .98) than I pay for other beans (around .65 for pintos, white beans, and black beans) and they don't get much bigger, like beans do, so they are more money than beans, making I a more expensive meal. Two weeks ago I made lentil sloppy joes; they weren't a hit, so we won't be repeating that recipe.

  • Janet Marie Huff August 14, 2013

    Brandy, I am wondering why you don't use lenti...

    Brandy, I am wondering why you don't use lentils more often, or anyway your wonderful recipes are not reflecting that?? Just curious, since lentils are one of the best/cheapest proteins.

  • 2Momma2 April 24, 2013

    This is great! I just started cooking with beans ...

    This is great! I just started cooking with beans and love that you have yummy and inexpensive recipes all in one place. Thanks!

  • Kate Craig February 21, 2013

    Here from Couponing 101, these are great recipes! ...

    Here from Couponing 101, these are great recipes! We like to eat mostly vegan so I pinned a bunch of these, thanks!

  • Brisbane takeaway November 06, 2012

    Good tips! There are a lot of different types of c...

    Good tips! There are a lot of different types of combos with beans, that's why i like to make some interesting food with them.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2012

    I didn't even think about it until I had them ...

    I didn't even think about it until I had them all mixed up! Then it hit me that I probably should have drained them. They were good, but would have been better if I had drained the cans. I will try them again. Thanks!

  • The Prudent Homemaker September 17, 2012

    Yes, you should have drained them. I always draine...

    Yes, you should have drained them. I always drained and rinsed canned beans when I used canned ones.You can always email me if you have a specific question about a recipe.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2012

    I made the black bean burgers last night, but they...

    I made the black bean burgers last night, but they were really soupy. I used canned black beans, since I had no more cooked dry beans in the freezer. Was I supposed to drain them? That is all I can think of that changed. I had to add more bread crumbs and they didn't form patties, just lumps on the griddle :)Allison

  • Savvy Couponer August 27, 2012

    New Vegan here!!! LOOVE that I found this page!!!!...

    New Vegan here!!! LOOVE that I found this page!!!!! I am clueless about beans... except green beans.. LOL THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!

  • Misty L August 22, 2012

    These all looks wonderful! Thanks for the inspirat...

    These all looks wonderful! Thanks for the inspiration. I do have a question since I am not very good a "winging it" in the kitchen. For your Sunday beans and rice recipe can you tell me what quantity you use for the beans, lime juice and onions? Thanks.

  • Anonymous August 22, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your amazing bean recipes! ...

    Thank you for sharing your amazing bean recipes! Just a couple of days ago I was looking at my food storage and noticed the many cans of beans I had accumulated recently. I thought to myself how I need to find some bean recipes on the internet. This post couldn't have come at a better time. I really look forward to trying out these bean recipes. I truly appreciate the inspiration you provide being a woman who is busy at home(Titus 2:4-5). God bless you!

  • WilliamB August 22, 2012

    Beth, have you looked at Mark Bittman's Food M...

    Beth, have you looked at Mark Bittman's Food Matter Cookbook, or his How To Cook Everything Vegetarian? He's a NYT food blogger who converted to mostly-vegetarian for environmental reasons, then wrote several books about his experience and his recipes.

  • Anonymous August 22, 2012

    Black beans have almost a meaty flavor. I once mad...

    Black beans have almost a meaty flavor. I once made chili using only black beans, and my husband didn't notice the meat wasn't there! I usually make chili with meat and either no beans or pintos. He thought I was kidding when I told him (after he had devoured two bowls) that he had just eaten meatless chili. ~Michelle

  • The Prudent Homemaker August 22, 2012

    There is a print option on all of my recipes on th...

    There is a print option on all of my recipes on the website so that you can print these out for your own personal use. I like to keep things free! (No-ebook plans!)

  • Andrea August 22, 2012

    What a fantastic list! And all the wonderful comm...

    What a fantastic list! And all the wonderful comments to add to are just marvelous! I've run into this same problem with finding bean recipes without cheese or meat, and I'll be copying these. I'm wondering if you'd be interested in putting your recipes and these others into a free e-book? I think I'll compile them for my own use as, with a large family on one income, this is a must-have collection!

  • Anonymous August 22, 2012

    Freezer friendly black bean quesadillas. These a...

    Freezer friendly black bean quesadillas. These are AWESOME!http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2012/02/hearty-black-bean-quesadillas-661.html

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