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.

Similar Posts


  1. 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 !

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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. family favorite is lentil nachos (homemade cheese sauce optional). actually have a lot of bean recipes on my blog here: am looking forward to having a bean week with your ideas!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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)

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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): 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

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

  21. 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 🙂

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. Brandy,
    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!


  25. 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!

  26. 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).

  27. 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.

  28. Our family really enjoys black bean & sweet potato burritos, black bean quesadillas, black bean soup, homemade hummus, and Moroccan Chickpea Tagine over rice or couscous. There are so many options out there and when they can use up pantry staples it is even better!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *