One of my menu-planning goals that helps keep me accountable is to try to keep my meals under a certain amount per recipe. In order to make this work with our budget of $80 a week for food (or $20 per person), I’ve had to come up with some meals that are hearty, healthy, and cheap.
This has been a busy week, so I decided to start with something basic, but with infinite variations: beans and rice. I found a recipe in Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals and adapted it to fit my family’s taste and the contents of my pantry.
Rachael calls this a “Stoup” -- something between a stew and a soup -- but I know from experience that my husband Chad does not consider soup a complete meal. So I modified the recipe by decreasing the amount of liquid (in the form of stock and tomato sauce) and cooking the rice separately. The bean mixture --which was delicious -- was the consistency of thick chili, and we ladled it over the rice. It was definitely filling, and both kids ate it happily.
Also, it came in well under my $5 budget. I used canned beans, which I don’t like to do because of the BPA used in the can liners, but I had them in the pantry, and didn’t have any dried beans soaked and ready to go. Dried beans would make this meal healthier and cheaper.
Hearty Beans & Rice
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($.25)
1 chopped onion, chopped ($.50)
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped ($1)
1 package frozen corn (I used Wegman’s Frozen Tex-Mex Corn) ($1.29)
2 15-oz cans beans (I used one can kidney beans and one can cannellini beans, because that’s what was in the pantry.) ($.59x2= $1.18)
1 recipe Homemade Taco Seasoning ($.10)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ($.15)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 can diced tomatoes ($.59)
1 1/2 cups white rice (you could use brown, but with the beans, and the corn. . . let’s just say it’s at your own risk.) ($.25)
In a microwave safe bowl, mix the rice with 3 cups of water and microwave for 15 minutes, stirring once.
In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
Add the corn and one can of beans with their juice. Add half of the second can of beans but mash up the rest of the beans in their can with a spoon before adding them to the pot. This will make the mixture a little more creamy.
Add the taco seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.
Add the tomatoes and let the mixture come to a boil.
Spoon mixture over rice & serve. Grate a little colby jack cheese over the top if desired.
Total Cost? $5.31