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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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  • Anonymous August 22, 2012

    Awesome thank u!!!

    Awesome thank u!!!

  • Heather August 22, 2012

    I am trying to cook more recipes with beans to str...

    I am trying to cook more recipes with beans to stretch our grocery budget, meat is so expensive!!! I have a picky toddler and husband, but your white bean alfredo recipe looks like something I could pull off. I am definately trying it out soon. And I am going to start cooking more meatless soups and recipes for lunch, it would help cut the cost there as well. Thank you for all of your wonderful tips and encouragement. I love reading your blog and website!

  • Mrs. Mordecai August 22, 2012

    Wow, thanks for the inspiration! We eat more beans...

    Wow, thanks for the inspiration! We eat more beans than most people, but I think more is better. :)Our favorite split pea soup recipe is here. It uses lemon for flavoring instead of ham, and we love it.http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/vegetarian-split-pea-soup-recipe.htmlAnother family favorite is lentil nachos (homemade cheese sauce optional).http://be-it-ever-so-humble.blogspot.com/2012/02/meatless-nachos.htmlI actually have a lot of bean recipes on my blog here:http://be-it-ever-so-humble.blogspot.com/search/label/Dry%20beansI am looking forward to having a bean week with your ideas!

  • Beth August 22, 2012

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I already use most...

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I already use mostly beans as a staple in our meals, because of protein, healthier and cheaper than meat. But I am always at a loss for good recipes!This post was fantastic, and I am so thankful you posted it!! Definitely helps with my $60 a month budget :)

  • The Prudent Homemaker August 21, 2012

    Vitamin C helps you to absorb iron, so this of cou...

    Vitamin C helps you to absorb iron, so this of course makes sense!We have a dollar store that sells a bag of 12 limes for a $1. That helps to keep the cost down!

  • Sharon@DiscoverExploreLearn August 21, 2012

    Love these ideas ! I eat beans at least once a da...

    Love these ideas !I eat beans at least once a day, and although I am usually content with my simple beans and rice recipe, I am excited to try out some of these, especially for the kids.Regarding the lime juice - Not only does it make the beans taste better, but according to my doctor(who is also a registered dietitian), adding lemon or lime juice to bean dishes, allows your body to absord the iron and protein more easily. (I follow a vegan diet, so this is important for me, as beans or a major source of both protein and iron in my diet.)I've been adding lime juice for years now, and love it!Thanks for the recipes !

  • Jennifer O September 23, 2015

    Cajun red beans and rice.

  • ANNA November 07, 2015

    I am one of "those" ;) vegetarians, and I do eat a lot of beans in many different ways. This menu would be so nice to "eat threw" tho my meat-eating bf would have turn into "Grumpy" if I tried it on him ;) (sometimes I make two dishes or more 1 1/2)

    Beans, peas, lentils are soooo tasty and healthy and cheap (ticks all the boxes) and as you show us here, very easy to cook loads of different ways.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration.

    ps. I live in Sweden and loads of ppl here are sceptical towards that kind of food tho others embrace it.

  • cathy pirucki December 14, 2015

    Dear Brandy,
    Thanks for your bean recipies. I eat them regularly. I have been a vegetarian for 15 years and recently became vegan. I feel great and am trim and active. I cook them in a slow cooker with onions, salt and garlic until they are soft. What I can't eat in a few days I freeze. I have bean everything. Taco's, burritos, on my salad, bean burgers, in soups, even the dog gets a small portion. I find a good price at Gordon's Food Market. Thank you for all you do. I raised my kids before the internet. You have so many good ideas. I want to encourage people to try them. I am 5'6" and weigh 118 lbs. I believe that my diet has kept me trim and healthy. God Bless

  • Penny January 03, 2016

    For those still using meat I replaced 1/4 of the meat in tacos and chili with oatmeal when my kids were teenagers and I was on a tight budget. Just use a potao masher to break up the meat finely when frying and they won't know.They didn't like beans but if I pureed them and added them in the sauce they ate them without knowing. I also pureed a lot of vegetables to add to spaghetti sauce to up the vitamin content since they thought they only liked tomato sauce.

  • Nancy May 08, 2016

    I used the immersion blender to add yellow summer squash or zucchini slices to the homemade spaghetti sauce. My husband informed me he was no going to eat either one after I grew a bunch of it last summer, and there is still lots in the freezer. He was laughing, so may have been joking but I was in no mood.

  • Heather February 10, 2016

    Have you ever used oats in place of bread crumbs?

  • Lara K March 14, 2016

    Do you grow your own beans? I've found my dried beans sprout and I'm going to try to grow some this year!!

  • Julie April 30, 2016

    Thanks for the fantastic recipe ideas!

    One I've been enjoying lately is:
    -- black beans cooked with curry powder, cumin, and bay leaf
    -- bell peppers sauteed with onions
    -- rice

    Bean dishes can be so filling, yummy, and inexpensive! I'm looking forward to trying out some of your recipes :)

  • Sheela mitchell June 06, 2016

    i just love the beans ideas for meals. And I love the blog, I so can relate to so much that is posted. I look every day at my email in hopes of a post from the prudent homemaker

  • Marisa October 10, 2016

    Made the black bean burgers with your delicious 'steak sauce'(I labeled it Black bean burger sauce because we do not eat steak:D).

    Just loved them, what a wonderful recipes!


  • Kiki March 26, 2017

    The "taco soup" reminds me of my family's "hot bean dip". We all make it slightly differently. To mine I add diced capsicum and mushroom. Pretty much just chuck in as much as you want of anything.
    -taco seasoning mix
    -curry powder (optional I suppose)
    -red kidney beans
    -diced tomato (or tomato soup for a more 'dip' texture)
    My family also usually adds (vegetarian) mince, but it is just as good without, especially if you add capsicum and mushroom.
    We serve this with corn chips to dip in it, but I've also found that the leftovers go great with a big bowl of rice, or wrapped in puff pastry to make parcels.

    My favourite thing about this recipe has always been that you can have all the base ingredients for the meal in your pantry year round, and to make it all you need to do is go out and fetch the onion (& mushroom and capsicum if added).

  • Amy Lewis November 11, 2017

    I enjoy your blog so much!

  • eileen December 27, 2017

    I find one of the best deals are dried chickpeas and they can make a wonderful curry which we have with rice yogurt and my homemade green tomato chutney. It is also easy and cheap to make the naan bread if you need a little extra calories.

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