Our Epically Frugal Lunch Recipe
You’ve asked for it, we’ve promised it. We forgot about it, and then you asked for it again. I’ve actually received so many emails and comments requesting our epically thrifty recipes that I’m literally shamed into posting them. Thank you for your persistence readers, I finally got the clue!
Since we never (yes, never) buy lunch out, we needed a reliable, healthy, cheap, tasty, fast solution. Rice and beans to the rescue! Our resident chef Mr. Frugalwoods whips a gigantic batch up every Sunday and we enjoy it all week long. The recipe below is recorded as accurately as possible; apologies for any omissions–this is not from a recipe book and we are not recipe-writers.
As I’ve shared before, Mr. FW usually doesn’t cook from recipes and this lunch is no exception–he tweaks and refines his technique nearly every week. The man sort of tinkers around in the kitchen and out pops a meal. In order to translate Mr. FW’s anarchist cooking style into words on a page, we’ve started a technique whereby he calls out his ingredients and measurements while he’s cooking and I write them down.
However, it’s still a work in progress because he keeps saying things like “a dollop” or “a few drops” or “you know, enough” instead of actual measurements. Rest assured, I think we’ve got the correct measurements reflected below. And so, without further frugal ado, I present you with the Frugalwoods lunch recipe.
The Frugalwoods Rice-n-Beans Lunch Recipe
- 25 minutes of active work
- 35 minutes total cook time
- The key is to order your operations such that you’re not waiting for anything to cook. Everything happens simultaneously and thus, you’re able to maximize your work flow. Hence, the below cooking instructions are meant to be followed in the order they’re presented. It’s as much a system of efficiency as it is a recipe.
- Olive oil
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 4 medium shallots
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 lb Mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons of Korean or Chinese chili paste
- 3 15.5 oz cans of black beans
Cooking Utensils Needed:
- 2 quart sauce pan (or similar)
- 8 quart pan (or similar)
- Fine mesh strainer
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups
- Mixing spoon
- Put 4 cups of water into a 2 quart sauce pan over high heat.
- Add a dash of salt to the water and a blob of olive oil.
- While that heats up, measure 2 cups of Basmati rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for a minute, or until the water runs mostly clear.
- Let the rice drain completely and then add it to the sauce pan of water heating on the stove. Cover and keep a wary ear out–the moment it hits the boil, you need to turn it down. It’ll take a few minutes depending on your range.
- Meanwhile, add a dollop of olive oil to a second large pot (ours is approximately 8 quarts) and put on medium high to warm the olive oil. Note that this is a second pot–you now have two pots on the stove.
Begin to break down the shallots. A cheaper option is red onion, but we prefer shallots and they’re not much more expensive. I use 4 medium shallots. Cut them into a rough dice (not a French dice).
- Add shallots to the pot with olive oil and stir to coat them. Begin to sauté.
- While the shallots sauté, prep your garlic cloves. We use 4 large garlic cloves (or more). I do a rough mince of the garlic–again, not particularly French–just chopped up into tiny bits.
- Add minced garlic to the shallots. Pro tip: store garlic and shallots at room temperature. Keeping them in the refrigerator will cause them to rot prematurely.
- Right about now, your rice should be boiling–turn it on low and set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes (after it has come to a boil).
- Stir shallots and garlic together. The shallots should begin to turn a slight golden color.
- Add 4 tablespoons of Korean or Chinese chili paste to the garlic/shallot/olive oil mixture. Keep on a medium/high heat.
- While that cooks, prep 8 oz of baby portobello mushrooms. I give them a quick wash off before beginning to dice. Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to wash your mushrooms in water–the idea that you can’t wash your mushrooms is a culinary myth propagated by the French. Seriously, it’s OK to wash them.
- I’m not delicate about slicing the mushrooms. I slice them stem and all since the stems actually have great flavor. They’re going to reduce down anyway, so the stems will soften. Plus, if you don’t use the stems, you’ll need to use more mushrooms, which is both more expensive and wasteful.
Once your mushrooms are sliced, stir them into your shallot/garlic/olive oil pot. Add salt to help them reduce down.
- Open and drain 3 15.5 oz cans of black beans (don’t worry about draining them too thoroughly).
- You should now have approximately 15 minutes remaining on your 20 minute rice timer. No need to stir the rice, just let it sit. Pro tip: the steam is what cooks the rice, so don’t open the lid and look at it before time is up–you’ll release the steam!
- Make sure to occasionally stir your shallot/garlic/mushroom/chili paste mixture so that it evenly sautés together. FYI, this mixture is basically an umami bomb of awesomeness.
When you have 10 minutes left on your rice timer, add the black beans to the shallot/garlic/mushroom/chili paste pot.
- Turn up the heat and stir those beans! Bring the mixture up to a simmer and keep it there until the rice timer is done. Stir occasionally. Leave it on medium/low to simmer. Pro tip: I use this time to clean up the kitchen.
- When the rice’s 20 minutes are up, turn off both burners and dump the rice into the shallot/garlic/mushroom/chili paste pot. Stir together. Yum.
- We then portion the rice-n-beans into our lunch-size glass tupperware for the week.
- This recipe typically yields 12 servings.
- And now, what you frugal weirdos have all been waiting for, the cost per serving is: $0.39.
- This means that Mr. FW and I eat lunch all week long for a scant $1.95. That’s $1.95 per person ($3.90 for both of us) for 5 warm, healthy, tasty meals.
- Coupled with our $0.10 breakfasts, you can see how we easily manage our $330/month grocery bill (which, as you know, accounts for every drop of food and drip of drink we consume all month long)
- Keeping our food costs low is a crucial element of how we save 71% of our incomes every year.
- In case you’re wondering, yes we really did calculate the exact cost per serving by combing through receipts and calculating the costs per unit and per recipe:
|Ingredient||Cost||Size of Package||Amount Used in Recipe||Cost Per Unit||Cost Per Recipe|
|Basmati rice||$19.79||20 lbs||2 cups (0.8 lbs)||$0.99||$0.79|
|Black beans||$0.49||1 can||3 cans||$0.49||$1.47|
|Olive oil||$13.99||2L||3 tablespoons||$0.21||$0.62|
|Shallots||$0.99||1 lb||4 (1/3 of lb)||$0.99||$0.33|
|Garlic cloves||$1.29||6 heads (60 cloves)||4 cloves||$0.02||$0.09|
|Korean chili paste||$14.00||8.5 lbs||4 tablespoons (104 grams)||$0.09||$0.36|
|Mushrooms||$2.00||1 lb||1/2 lb||$2.00||$1.00|
|Total (12 Servings):||$4.68|
Voila! Lunch Monday-Friday for two adults at $0.39 cents per serving! It’s hard to get cheaper, healthier, tastier, or faster than this.
What’s your go-to lunch option?
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You could save EVEN more by using dried beans but that would involve a lot more time soaking and cooking. Same with using brown rice. It looks great and I am going to try it out. Don’t you get tired of eating the same thing every day? Breakfast is different, I could eat the same breakfast every day but lunch? Hmm, we’ll have to see.
Same here! I have tried making batch lunches for the week like this, but after eating the same thing more than 2 days in a row, I’m sick of it. I personally would rather trim my budget somewhere else so I can eat with more variety. To each their own, though!
Heh. If I’m jonesing for some variety I’ll add some extra hot sauce 🙂
It’s funny though, I’m a total foodie. I love making elaborate, delicious, expensive meals. I just don’t want to do it all the time! Having cheap and easy breakfasts and lunches leaves me plenty of room in the budget to eat extra yummy dinners. Doesn’t bother me, but as you say, to each their own!
Even a much more expensive homemade lunch is sooo much better for the budget than purchasing lunch!
Yeah, I’ve been meaning to try the dried bean method. It just involves so much thinking ahead! Most recipes I’ve seen have the beans on low in the slow cooker for 8 hours or so.
But I could add more flavor that way, I bet!
I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, and Mrs. FW doesn’t complain. It’s actually kind of nice! I like stuff like lunches and breakfasts to be on autopilot. Leaves me more brainpower to think about dinner!
Any time I need beans I put the dried beans in a dish of water that comes up 12 inches above the top of the beans and leave outovernight. The next morning I drain the beans and rinse them a bit then pop them into a pan of water to simmer for about an hour. Use as you would normally.
That doesn’t sound so bad! Do you do a whole bag at a time and freeze what you don’t use? I’m guessing I’d want to batch-cook the beans if possible.
I batch-cook beans a pound or two at a time–three cans is very roughly equivalent to a pound of dried beans. I soak overnight, then put in the slow cooker all day with olive oil and some vegetable parts (bits of celery and carrot ends and onion peel and whatnot). I think they taste much better than canned beans and they can be slightly cheaper. I freeze them in quart bags in the cooking liquid so they stay soft and flavorful. With white beans, I find that the cooking liquid qualifies as broth (good for cooking with), but I don’t like the black bean liquid for eating plain.
I also batch-cook rice and freeze in quart bags (which I wash and use several times). Something about having rice and beans in the freezer makes me feel prosperous!
Yes, I throw into slow cooker andsimmer all day, use what I want, freeze the rest. I’m vegetarian so I use these alot and ease of operation is my jam.
For mexican type recipes i.e. enchiladas, burritos, taco salad, I saute garlic, onions, olive oil first then dump into the crockpot with the beans along with a pinch of cumin and some cilantro some chili powder.
Also, being vegetarian, you can subsitute lentils and rice for taco filling or on taco salad so this might be an alternative to your beans and rice. Get a taco packet from Trader Joe’s (.79 – normally I would make my own but this is natural and cheap) and use half a packet to 1 pot of lentils and rice. wter to coer, cook like you would a pot of rice. It’s ahmaaazing.
Thanks everyone for the great info… I see a followup post in the works!
I find that chickpeas and pinto beans cook a ton faster than black beans (maybe 3-4 hours on high as opposed to 6-8). And I took a tip from Frugal Paragons blog where she describes cooking them with a “generous, Tuscan” amount of oil. Now, I only like beans that I’ve cooked myself.
If you freeze some black beans with cooking liquid you can use it later to make black bean soup its what we do now a days.
Check out using a pressure pot to cook beans! I use a pressure pot to batch cook beans and rice. I also cook veggies, apple sauce, and boil eggs with mine. It’s something I wish I would’ve know about sooner!
that’s 2 inches not 12 inches above beans LOL!
I cook my own beans too (black beans, white beans, chickpeas) and then freeze them in 2-portion bags (me and my husband only here 🙂 ). I soak them over night and for the chickpeas I boil them in the same water, but for the beans I change the water 2 times 5 minutes after it begins boiling (better taste).. And also: I DO NOT ADD SALT IN THE BEGINNING (it takes longer to cook with salt), only in the last 5 minutes.
I use dried beans which cook with a combo of 3 cups of water and 3 cups of chicken broth in my lovely crock pot while I sleep. Cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne and curry. Winco’s gives each seasoning at about .30 cents. I add in 2 stalks of celery & 1 carrot plus onion for flavor. Basmati rice. Once in the bowl, I top it with a tbsp of hot salsa and dairy-free sour cream. Mrs. & Mr. Frugalwood are right, I can eat it every day and not get tired!
Your version sounds delicious! It’s just such a yummy and satisfying meal. I’m sure we’ll get sick of it at some point, but for now, we’re happy with it. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
The best purchase I ever made was my pressure cooker. Some people are scared of pressure cookers. The ones today have a multiple safety features. Beans go from dry to done in under 30 minutes. We make homemade hummus and chili and the taste of fresh beans is excellent!
I’m not a massive black bean fan, could I replace some or all of these with chickpeas or even brown lentils (maybe some and some)?
The dried beans taste so much better. My hub is a vegetarian and we eat a lot of beans. I soak overnight, rinse and cook the next day. I portion them out into containers. My Dad grew up during the depression so I learned a lot of frugal meal. “Pasta fazool” is a favorite of ours.
Susan J. Cape Cod
I agree dried beans are so much better. I cook up a mess of them easily in the pressure cooker with quite a bit of water. Then once cool, I separate the broth from the beans and freeze them separately in ice cube trays. Once frozen I store them in the freezer in freezer bags. Any time I need beans or broth for soup, I just reach in and grab what I need, In a recipe like this the beans frozen in the size of an ice cube u-thaw very quickly, like heating a can of cold beans, and they taste much better.
Dried beans taste so much better than canned. I soak my dried beans during the day and toss them into the crockpot right before I go to sleep. Then in the morning they are cooked. They cool off while I get ready for work. I portion them and freeze the plain ones. I reserve some to make refried beans later that night. Like you, I batch cook. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
I just found this recipe, and since we are going to have a kiddo in college in the Spring that we really want to give the “live at college” experience, we are tightening our money belts a LOT to be able to do so. I LOVE Korean food and gochujang, so this recipe sounds perfect! I’m cooking the beans in my electric pressure cooker right now (~30 minutes) and my rice in my rice cooker (did I say I like Korean food? We eat so much of it, I bought a good rice cooker that gets used every day). I’ll be using red onions because that’s what I have (good luck finding shallots at our Aldi’s! LOL!) and pre-minced garlic (the one thing I always allow myself to splurge on – I hate cutting up sticky garlic – eww!). I’ll update on how it turns out! Thank you so much!!!
I prefer brown rice but for some reason it’s more expensive than basmati over here in the UK. Weird.
If I find an awesome tasty foodstuff I could totally eat it every day. I tried making soups but got pretty bored of that pretty quickly. I will have to try the rice and beans, I might have to swap around some ingredients as I cannot stand mushrooms. Any ideas for other veg that might go with it the Frugalwoods? I’m thinking maybe courgette (zuchini), leeks, celery… etc…? Will they have enough protein as substitutes to the mushroom (do mushrooms even have much protein?!)
Maybe I should just man up and force myself to like mushrooms. It worked with Tomatoes and Olives 🙂
To Mr F – I hate cooking to recipes as well and prefer just chucking stuff into the pot and seeing what concoction I’ve made each time 🙂
I think you could probably sub in any other veggies that you like! The protein primarily comes from the beans, but more veggies is always good. Hope you enjoy it :)!
Cheers! I made it with the mushrooms in the end, it was lovely. Made it with a few extra veggies and some Thai Red Curry paste. One dinner and 5 lunches for about £4… spot on! Cheers!
Yes, with the gochujang in it, I’m getting bibimbap vibes, so you could add in some lightly sauteed cucumburs, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, jullienned carrots, mung or soy bean sprouts, etc.
Find several meals you like that freeze well, make em and feeeze leftovers in portions to rotate and grab and go.
Hi – this looks great and I’m going to make it this weekend!! Any suggestions on where to get Korean Chili Paste (other than a Korean store – we don’t have those around here). Also – have you used a veggie other than mushrooms – hubby doesn’t really care for them. Thanks!
Hmmm. Most standard grocery stores will have a jar of chili paste or chili-garlic paste in the ethnic foods section. Even Sirracha would suffice. I just try and avoid the ones with added sugar.
I’ve put all sorts of veggies in this. It’s a great recipe to use up veg that is nearing refrigerator death. Green pepper, asparagus, broccoli, basically anything. If it’s a delicate vegetable I’d chop it up and wait until the very end to add it so that it doesn’t get too mushy.
So what are the ingredients in the chili paste you use? Our local store carried only a Chili Paste from Thailand which includes, in addition to the chili, dried shrimp, fish sauce, Lemon, Tamarind and other stuff. And this is strangely a jar of dried stuff (not a “paste”, as I would think). I’m not sure if this is similar to what you use. Thanks!
I’m glad part people brought up how black dried beans ate not an issue to cook. We soak over night and boil for hr or 2 no biggie.
I was also going to ask why you rinse rice?
We rinse the rice because it removes the surface starches and makes it less sticky (in theory!).
+1 on the dried beans. I make the whole pound in the slow cooker (super easy, lazy way to do it) then freeze them for future use. I end up getting 8 cups of beans for $1.
Ah, great! I was asking up-thread about batch cooking the dried beans. Will definitely have to give that a try! Thanks!
It’s here! Thanks so much for sharing! OK, so I think I already see a huge differece here. You guys consume WAAAY less calories. Do you bring anything else to eat on a work day? I made a very similar rice and beans recipe last night (2 cups dry rice, 3 cans beans – didn’t have time for dried beans, 2 onions, garlic, no mushrooms but will try this!). That equated to 4 servings for us, 5 if I really wanted to stretch it. I even have to supplement that with more food at work (fruit, labneh, nuts, or mini leftover).
I am the queen of containers when I pack my lunch for work. Breakfast is always hot and cooked at home (oatmeal, toast/eggs). At work, I have morning snack (banana or fried egg cold, rarely does my oatmeal get me til noon, otherwise I dive into my lunch at 11am), my lunch (last night’s dinner, homemade soup, or occasionally a veggie hummus sandwich), then an afternoon snack (more fruit, or homemade lebneh and pita chips or a tiny leftover that didn’t quite make it as a full lunch). So I eat 3 three times in a typical work day. Then I get home from work and have another little snack to tide me over until 8pm dinner. So that is another way to save $ – train your self to eat fewer calories!
Mrs. FW usually brings some salad greens with her lunch. I generally just eat this, though sometimes I’ll have a banana in the early afternoon. We’re both stuck in desk jobs, so we’re not exactly burning tons of calories at work 🙂
Our dinners are by far the largest meal of the day for us, and we’re honestly darned hungry by 6pm when we’re usually sitting down to eat. I think if I had to wait until 8 I’d need an afternoon snack too!
Biking doesn’t make you hungrier? Like Shannon above, this made 6 scant servings for DH and I, requiring accompanying salad and yogurt and such. But it was good. Thanks!
Love this. How did you know I was waiting for the cost per servings? haha. This is great. I’m always amazed as how you two do it, I love it.
Well, we figured we might as well go all the way 🙂 Plus I’m a sucker for a good spreadsheet!
Great recipe. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been dreadful about sending Mr. Maroon to work prepared for lunch. He’s been a trooper about getting by on free lunches at work or items that can only be classified as snacks. He’s starving when he gets home most days. But I will most definitely be giving this a chance. To add some variety, I could also see us mixing it up with different veggies and spices… Particularly Mexican spices of cumin, paprika, etc. plus jalapeños. Bring on the rice and beans!!
Thanks! I do in fact change the spice and the veggies week to week, depending on what I have in the fridge and what we’re feeling like. But this makes a good base.
As the mom of a toddler, we do lots of peanut butter and jelly for lunch. The hubs will eat leftovers from what ever we had for dinner the night before.
Yum. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a pb&j, but I did enjoy them 🙂
Yet another recommendation for using dried beans. Much cheaper and fewer cans to deal with. Similar to Kristen, I make a huge batch in my pressure cooker (love that thing) and freeze 2 servings worth in individual Ziploc bags (which I wash and reuse).
Question, what do you guys do about dinner? As a 2-adult household I’m finding that on nights where we properly cook we always have leftovers the next day for lunch, but since you seem to use the rice n beans every day I’m wondering if you make non-leftover producing meals? Save leftovers for another dinner? This may just be a product of being a vegetarian, I guess if you have meat for dinner you can’t really take those leftovers to work (or maybe you can, I know nothing about eating meat!!)
I’m forever questioning whether I’m OK with how freaking high our grocery bill is. It’s high because we rarely eat out and we buy so much produce during the CSA off-season, and I DO think its important to eat lots and lots of whole fruits and vegetables, but do two people really need to spend an average of $500/month on groceries? Probably not!!
I have a saved craigslist search for a pressure cooker 🙂 Just waiting until some friendly Bostonian gets rid of theirs.
Dinners span the gamut depending on when I get home and how tired I am. At the minimum, a piece of salmon sauteed and put over greens with a homemade vinaigrette. Or homemade hummus and cut up veggies. Those are my standard “i’m too tired to cook” meals.
If I’m feeling more ambitious the sky is the limit. We have a pretty well stocked pantry so anything is possible. Though we usually stick to pescatarian during the week.
With a pressure cooker you could probably get the active cooking time down to 5-10 mins!
Skip the pressure cooker and get a preassure canner (you can use a pressure canner as aa pressure cooker but not the other way around). I’ve just started canning and doing dry beans has saved us so much money and is so convenient to have on hand. You just add dry beans to a canning jar, add spices, fill with water and pressure can. This way you get the cost savings of dry beans, with the convenience of having canned beans on the shelf ready to go. Try it. It will change your life 😉
I love me some good rice and beans. I actually requested it for my birthday last year because we don’t get it enough! Yours looks really tasy though. Shallots? Yum!
Our go to lunch is the old peanut butter sandwich option.
Shallots are my allium weakness 🙂
I must have ageneral weakness. I made myself an onion sandwich a while back because that’s what I thougth I was really tasting. Sounds gross, but I’d do it again. Tasted like a ketchup and onion hot dog without the hot dog.
I eat raw shallot slices plain. Though a quick fry in olive oil makes them irresistible!
WOW! This is the moment we have all been waiting for! Thank you so much. I guess I can stop reading your blog now.
I also +1 the dried beans!
I have been vegan/vegetarian for over eight years, and beans are a staple for me. I always used to buy canned for the convenience, but on a family trip one of my cousin’s wife emphatically convinced me to soak and cook from dry beans instead. The main reason: They taste is significantly superior to canned beans. The fact that they are cheaper is just an added bonus. So I promised her I would try it.
Luckily for me, my mom has been a vegetarian her whole life and gave me one of her old pressure cookers. I would not recommend cooking beans any other way. They just do not seem to get as tender even after 8 hours in slow cooker vs. 8-10 minutes in pressure cooker. The pressure cooker takes a while to get used to, but now I have become a converted home-cooked bean snob. I have some canned beans on hand to use for “emergency dinners,” but I try to cook a giant pot of beans over the weekend to eat during the week in different recipes (in tacos, over mixed greens, in stuffed sweet potato, with rice, etc). I do not add salt, but sometimes add dried sea vegetable (kelp, wakeme, dulse, etc.) to add more minerals and flavor. The process takes a lot more planning (beans need to be sorted, rinsed, and soaked the night before), time, and dishes, but the taste is totally worth it.
For any readers looking to use a pressure cooker, I would recommend a stainless steel (not aluminum) stove-top version if possible, and when picking the size, please remember that you should only fill the pot halfway for best cooking conditions (a 6 qt pot can only be used for 3 qts of food for pressure cooking).
Also thank you for mentioning that you wash mushrooms and use the stems! My mom never really cooked with mushrooms so I never really learned how to use them, and I have been scared to wash them or to eat the stems for fear of ruining the mushrooms and my meal! Now I know I can blame the darn French for all my mushroom fears!
I can’t wait to try this recipe! I am down with eating rice & beans every day, but I think the hubby would revolt 🙁
Yum. A pressure cooker is definitely something I’m keeping an eye out for on craigslist. Seems like the way to go with beans!
The french are responsible for so many wonderful things in the culinary arts, but also a couple of myths. The mushroom washing among them! 🙂 And I love the mushroom stems as long as they are cooked a bit. Raw, they are pretty woody. But I think they have the best flavor of the entire mushroom!
Just a note for people who have not done much with mushrooms: I used to think I hated mushrooms as my mom was/is notorious for adding raw button mushrooms to EVERYTHING. I still don’t care for mushrooms that way, but they are great sautéed. Even better are the more gourmet varieties, like morels, chanterelles, Portobello or shitake.
Hah, yes, I’m not a huge fan of raw button mushrooms either! But add some oil, garlic and heat… magic!
Love this idea! Definitely adding this to our meal plan 🙂
It certainly works well for us. And at about 40 minutes start to finish for 12 servings… it’s time frugal as well!
Nicely done. I just read your post while eating my leftovers from last night for lunch. 🙂
Yum. Leftovers are also well loved around here as lunch. Though we often will have leftovers as the next dinner 🙂
This has me curious about how much my lunch costs. I have two recipes that I rotate. They yield 5-10 meals depending on whether I cook a double batch or not. If I can figure it out over the weekend I’ll let you know. They are based dishes. But I’m not much for beans and I use lean ground beef in one and boneless skinless chicken breasts in the other. I know it’s not as frugal as your lunches but it is still more frugal and definitely healthier than picking up lunch somewhere.
Oh certainly! I have coworkers that buy soup for lunch from a place down the street. $7 for a small bowl of vegetarian soup has got to be the ripoff of the century 🙂
Thanks for sharing the recipe – it looks good!
I do something similar for the majority of my cold weather lunches – frozen veggies with extra onion, Jasmine rice, and Jalfrezi sauce (a type of medium/hot curry). Right now I buy jarred sauce… but my goal is to start making it myself since it doesn’t seem too involved. I would love for my husband to get on board but he likes variety and can’t make it through the day on just veggies/rice.
Yum, I’m looking at recipes for making Jalfrezi sauce! Looks delicious! If you find a good recipe that you like please let us know!
Oooh, I might have to try your recipe for something different.
If you want to swap, my rice and beans is super easy and muy tasty!
Beans = a double batch of the (non)re-fried beans from this dip recipe http://www.hippressurecooking.com/fresh-make-the-7-layer-dip-from-scratch/
Rice = pretty basic Mexican rice (rice, onion, 1 can tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce + spices – cumin, garlic powder, salt) made with converted rice (for more low GI goodness!)
1 cup beans + 1 cup rice = 16oz of super filling deliciousness for lunch warmed to perfection in the mini-crockpot I keep at my office.
I’m eating a lot of this lately as with our kitchen a disaster area it’s something that I can cook entirely with just the electric pressure coooker.
Yum, that sounds delicious! Good idea about a mini-crockpot at work… we have one in the basement that I’ve never found a good use for. Might have to try that!
I love beans and, rice. Sadly, I can’t rely on them for health. My body doesn’t digest them well regardless of cooking process.
My health suffers if I eat them on a consistent basis. But, because I love them, I do push it to the limit. Black beans are my
favorite and, I would much rather eat them than meat.
Too, because of auto-immune disease I eat gluten-free. This makes oats very pricey as they have to be labeled gluten-free
in order to consume them. Standard oats are often contaminated with wheat as they are grown in neighboring fields and, processed
on the same equipment.
All of that said, I am inspired to do the best I can with my grocery budget!
Thanks for the recipe. 🙂
You could try buckwheat instead of oatmeal.
I’ve also made this recipe with Quinoa in place of the rice. In that case I use less beans since the quinoa is so filling and also has some protein. Maybe a good alternative for you?
Bob’s Red Mill is pretty reasonable. I don’t if that has to do with the company being in the same place I live. I don’t eat dairy or gluten. I spend about a $100. I’ve scoured the land for cheap produce and extraordinarily cheap products in which I can make my own “frozen” fast meals.
Great point, Jill. We’ve–surprisingly–found Bob’s Red Mill for cheap at discount grocery stores. I always thought it was only at Whole Foods, but no!
Thank you for sharing!! I hadn’t asked for the recipe, but I was secretly hoping you would share it!! I’m adding this into my meal plan for the week! 🙂
Hope you enjoy it!
+1 for dry beans cooked for 30 min in the pressure cooker. AMAZING and SO CHEAP.
OK, OK, I do see that I need to get a pressure cooker! 🙂 The internet has spoken. Will give this a try soon, thanks!
Wow, that is an impressive cost per meal. I don’t like mushrooms much, but I may still take a shot using this recipe as a guide. Have you ever tried buying the beans in bulk too? I guess that would add to the preparation time though.
I need to do some calculations to show my wife how wide of a range in terms of cost our meals fall into to. I think that will help us make some changes.
I’ve been using canned beans, and that is the bulk price for a flat of cans around here. The other commenters seem really high on dried beans so I’ll have to try that!
As for price, our philosophy is to spend lavishly on things we care the most about… and as little as possible on everything else. Lunches definitely fall in the second category!
Thank you! Just what I was looking for. Your secret ingredient is the chili paste, duh-oh; I should have seen that coming.
LOVE my chili paste. I buy it in bulk (of course) and it’s shocking how fast it disappears!
Where do you get your chili paste in bulk? Amazon? I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store in the ethnic food section.
We used to get it from a local Korean market in Cambridge, but lately we’ve just been getting bulk Sriracha from BJ’s
If you have a restaurant supply in your area check there!
I agree with the suggestion to try using dry beans. I can make 2lb of beans in 6 hours on high in the crock pot. Then I freeze them in re-used glass jars and thaw them as needed. I can get 2lb of beans for 2.49 (even less for pinto beans).
For those that can’t do beans–My lunch is peanut butter on homemade bread or a small tortilla, plus a whole carrot or two. This prices out at less than 30 cents.
Good call on the peanut butter alternative. That’s our backup too, pb and carrots.
I am a 100% bring your (ultra frugal) lunch to work kinda gal, but I can’t eat the same thing day in and day out. Kudos!
Yeah, we’re weirdos when it comes to food repetition. Same thing every day for breakfast and lunch… but wildly varying dinners.
I wonder if we’ll have more variation in breakfast and lunch when we’re on the homestead and I have more time to think about cooking. I love to cook, but now I have to optimize for time efficiency so heavily that it restricts my options. We’ll see…
Frugal lunches are awesome. We usually cook more for dinner so we have some leftover for lunch the next day. It works out pretty well.
Will have to try this recipe, sounds yummy. 🙂
I love leftovers so much we usually eat them for dinner the next night. I’m weird, I tend to prefer cold food so next day leftovers are perfect.
Oooooooooh. Looks fantastic. Although I’m a little concerned I might have to dial the chili paste back — I like a *little* heat to warm up a relatively bland recipe, but how spicy would you say this is? Also: LOL at 8.5 lb containers of chili paste. I deduce a local Asian grocery store.
It’s not too spicy… but we are definitely spice lovers. Since I cook it down a bit, the heat mellows. The chili paste we use is also not a firebreather. I prefer heat with some fruitiness.
I made this tonight – it is great, but if you are sensitive to spice, I would definitely dial back the chili paste a bit. I like a little touch of heat. 4 TBS puts it in a territory beyond that…. Personal preferance of course – or maybe I bought a super hot jar of chili paste. I will probably go down to 2 TBS next time. I can always add more. 🙂
This is awesome, thanks for posting! My husband and I are both vegetarian grad students so this is the perfect lunch – we save money and avoid animal products. I’d pair this with a side of veggies or fruit to round out my lunch – any suggestions for sides or snacks to go with it? We both work pretty long days and usually need more than the standard lunch provides.
Mrs. FW usually takes some salad greens. I usually eat a piece of fruit in the afternoon, so I just eat this by itself for lunch.
Had this is almost exactly what I make…except I use dry beans (cooked in a crock pot) and mix up my rice every now and then. Sometimes Ill add some spicy Louisiana sausage and (if I have any..my aunt has a weird obsession with sending some over to my house) I add ginger. The kid eats it, I eat it, Its win/win!
Mmmmm. Sausage! If we do have any lingering bits of meat from earlier in the week they definitely will be thrown in. A minced slice of bacon at the very beginning makes it taste a lot richer.
Rice and beans are a fantastic staple. They never get old. Thanks for this take on it…we’ll definitely give it a shot.
Hope you enjoy!
The same lunch everyday? Nooooooooo! Frugal be damned is that’s what it takes.
I have a frugal lifestyle too but food variety is a must else you may as well eat Solyent Green or algae or oatmeal or something else that tastes the same all the time.
however each to their own.
Variety is the spice of life !!!
Hah! See, I think we’ve dialed in our meals to optimize the deliciousness vs cheapness graph. I could make a cheaper lunch, but this is tastier.
Do you know approx. how many cups this recipe will make? Thank you so much for posting it, I look forward to making it and to future recipe posts!!! 🙂
Maybe 12 cups? I bet our serving size is a cup-ish.
I’ve been looking for a good rice and beans recipe. I’ll have to try this one!
Enjoy! It makes a great canvas upon which to innovate too… so don’t feel like you have to stick to the details. Our certainly evolves based upon what is about to go bad in our crisper drawer 🙂
Don’t think this won’t show up in my Cost Per Serving series. It may be frugal, but is it Frugally Delicious? Time will tell.
We usually have all of this stuff except the shallots, but I suppose I’ll just sub in an onion as I usually do. Margie typically uses the chili paste as a Flavor Blast add-in for suppers, but I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the 8.5 lb jar. Maybe at the Asian supermarket.
Oh I think it’s pretty tasty. It’s frugally, healthfully, delicious. Which it needs to be if you are eating it every day! 🙂
I’m 100% trying this next week! Going to see if I can get the fiance to hop on the leftover bandwagon 🙂
Good luck! I find the key to making leftovers awesome is often to add a bit more hot sauce 🙂
Wow! I think I might have to halve this and give it a shot. In what I think is one of the best perks ever, my boyfriend’s school provides lunch every day to teachers, so this would make too much for just me. I am curious about how hungry I’d be though – I have a desk job, but I’m also a morning runner, and I find on the days that I run I often end up ravenous. Maybe I’ll try it for a week and bring in some extra desk snacks just in case.
Thanks for posting this!!
Whoah, that is a great perk! The beans and rice is a pretty hearty mix, but if you are burning a ton of calories in the morning I bet you’ll need to eat a larger serving size.
Hmmm, I’m going to have to share this with Rick – he’s getting tired of the same ol’, same ol’ for lunch. Sounds yummy!
Hope you enjoy it! It’s great to be able to bust out a week’s worth of lunches in 45 minutes or so.
Yum. I shared the recipe with my wife and we will try to make one soon. I am Korean and I was glad to see Korean pepper paste from the recipe. Haha
The chili paste is my secret ingredient in all sorts of dishes. Wonderful flavor!
I use dried beans and have many portions ready to eat in the little freezer on top of my stove. Lots of parboiled rice in there too because I am trying to eat resistant starch.
I soak the beans for a day and overnight in a covered roasting pan. I put the beans on the lower shelf of the oven on days when I am baking so the oven is full. I set the oven at the temperature I need for whatever I am baking and the beans do just fine.
I usually end the baking session with a big pan of vegetables that need about an hour and a half to roast and give me the veg I need for my freezer. I am very lazy and bulk cooking is frugal, nutritious and minimizes dish doing and prep work and I can do it all in my pajamas.
That sounds like a great setup! I love the batch-cooking, it just makes soooo much sense. Neat idea on combining the bean cooking with other baking. I do sometimes feel guilty when I heat up the oven just to make a loaf or two of bread. I may have to try that!
The comments here have me convinced to try using dried black beans. I do often cook up lentils and they are the best!
Thank you for the recipe! I love the idea of adding garlic to the rice and beans. My favorite is rice and beans with cheddar on top but I’m trying to cut back on the cheese;0)
Yeah, I’m going to have to try dried beans too! The internet is wonderfully helpful yet again! Cheddar on top sound delish, I can see us using up ends of cheese blocks in just that way. Thanks for the suggestion!
My rice and beans is similar but I just use spices instead of fresh stuff. Not as healthy, but I’m okay with that trade off.
I just do protein bars and shakes during the day so I don’t have to worry/stop to eat if I’m swamped. Not nearly as frugal, but still only about $3 a day for everything up until dinner. (A shake around 1, a bar around noon and a shake around 2 or 3.) So that’s roughly the cost of 2 fast food meals. Not ideal, but I like it.
I need to get back into eating rice and beans. I just shake spices over salsa covered rice and add the beans. Not as healthy as your recipe but,again, good enough for me.
Nothing wrong with a “quick and dirty” method. It’s a good thing to keep in mind if someone finds themselves without the fresh ingredients but doesn’t want to go to the store. Thanks for the suggestion!
Tried this today- outstanding. Fully energizing in multiple ways.
Great, so glad it turned out well!
I make dried beans in the crockpot, no soaking required. Red beans are different -I would research that first as I’ve never done them and read something toxic regarding that. Very very cheap!
PS I think Kroger’s bulk pintos are 79 cents a pound
Something else incredibly delicious and cheap that I enjoy, is black beans mixed with canned tomatoes (use the juice on both). You can spice it however you want. You can also add sour cream and cheese (of course that is not cheap). 🙂
Yum, great suggestions! I’ve heard the trick with red beans is that you need to cook them at a steady boil for at least 10 minutes. So a slow cooker on low won’t usually do it, it’ll need to be on high for at least a while.
Share it Frugalwoods. That Rice-n-Beans Lunch Recipe looks so yummy! I promise I’m gonna have it today!
Hope it was good!
Hey you frugal mother effers! I’ve really been enjoying your blog, thanks for the good work. We typically make a big soup on Sundays and eat it for lunch all week long. Works out great, low cost, low effort (per serving) and I’m more than happy to enjoy the same delicious meal 5 days in a row. I was excited to make your beans and rice recipe so I cooked up a batch this morning. 1) It is delicious, and I plan on adding to the repertoire. 2) I’m curious about the serving size, you guys really eat this for lunch all week? It made about 12 cups of finished grub – but 1 cup of food isn’t very satiating (to me anyway), and I plugged it into a nutrition calculator and it only offers 264 calories. Now, I’m a desk jockey too but man, that’s not much food! Dividing it into six 2-cup servings looks about right, and at just over 500 calories seems closer to a proper meal. Do you pair it with other stuff at lunch?
I do eat it alone for lunch. Mrs. FW eats some greens along with it. We both eat a piece of fruit in the afternoon (banana, pear, apple, etc…) and typically eat dinner at 6:30ish. Along with the hearty oats for breakfast, it seems to hold us. I like being a bit ravenous when it’s time for dinner 🙂
Hi, I just came across your blog 2 days ago and so far read many articles from the archives because there are many great tips you give and added you to my daily reads so don’t feel like I’m trying to undermine or attack you (I don’t even know the right word, just learnt English couple years ago) but:
First: $330/month is great and many people spend more but being that your blog is about frugal living, I don’t think that’s frugal for 2 people… We are family of 4 with 2 toddlers living in Brooklyn, NYC = expensive… Since the kids were born I buy only organic milk and meats and they drink galons of milk 😉 I buy lots of organic produce, not everything because I can’t afford that and I made a choice to always
buy organic animal products and whatever organic priduce I can afford, the rest is conventional, I cook from scratch but buy some snacks for the kids, as all kids they love anything that comes from colorful bag lol… I spend about $400 / month…
Second: what actually made me comment is that I’m beyond courios, based on the prices that you quote for your breakfasts and lunches, which are great by the way, you have over $300 left for the month… what in the world you are spending that for??? you spend .10 for breakfast and .39 for lunch per person… that leaves you witn $5 per person for dinner… wouldn’t it make sense to spend little more on breakfasts and lunches some days to have more variety being that you have so much leftover money just for dinners and drinks?
Maybe it’s just convenient for you to do it this way and everyone is doing what works for them but it kind of doesn’t make sense for me…
once again, I love your writing and don’t mean to be mean 😉
Oh no worries, we’re pretty comfortable doing things the way we do. Dinners can be pretty pricey since they are often built around a giant (and I do mean giant) salad of organic greens. We’ll also often eat wild caught fish with dinner, which can be darned expensive… even from costco.
It also includes nice beer, really good coffee beans, and decent wine. Plus we tend to have really nice meals on the weekends in lieu of going out to eat.
Which is a good point. That $330 amount is literally every crumb of food and drop of drink for the month, since we don’t eat out. It adds up 🙂 I’m always interested to see how it comes to that every month… but it does!
Thank you for the recipe and cost break down. I order 25lb bags of legumes and rice and store them in the basement (cool dark and bug proof). I get local seasonal food bulk and have a bulk cooking day about every two weeks. If your going to make borsht you might as well make pea soup and carrot soup (or what ever your cooking with) it’s just a bit of extra chopping and variation. Delicious nutritious and cheap (plus you don’t have to cook everyday). I get the stream lining thing too – that is I pre- prep containers of oatmeal for my lunches. Enjoying and learning from your blog very much. Keep it up! And Frugal hound – very sweet.
Yay, thanks! My neighbors always look at me funny as I haul a 25lb bag of rice in from the van, but man does it make good sense long term! And like you say, it seems to keep very well in a cool, dark basement. Luckily we too don’t have bug problems.
Wow! I was really excited to read this, especially because it turns out that your beans & rice are so super different from mine. I tend to picture beans and rice as either Mexican (jalapenos, yellow onion, cumin, oregano) or as NOLA-style red beans and rice (celery, carrot, bell pepper, various chiles, pork fat if you eat meat). But gochujang sounds like a really interesting way to go! What is a French dice? I’m guessing you mean a brunoise, since that’s the tiny cube cut. I agree that such a thing would be overkill for such a homey and hearty dish.
Have you guys thought about using dried beans? Those are way cheaper per lb than canned, especially if you have a market with good bulk bins. Plus then you get homemade bean broth!! If you make a lot of soup, it’s a really great thing to have stashed in the freezer. I can tell you exactly how to do it if you’re interested.
Yeah, brunoise is what I meant 🙂 I always forget the official names of stuff!
We’re definitely going to look at dried beans now that the internet has schooled me on their use :-). Interesting to learn that you then do something with the bean broth. I’ll have to look that up! I honestly didn’t know bean broth was a thing!
Yes! I always have bean broth in the freezer for sudden protein infusion in soup or pasta sauce. You can more or less use it wherever you might use veg broth. It’s so useful, and WAY better than the gack that comes in canned bean cans.
Beans: 1. Sort, chucking any rocks or dirt clods. 2. Cover with 2x their depth in water overnight. 3. Pour off soaking water. 4. Put beans in a pan & cover with 2x their depth in clean water. Add a bay leaf. 5. Simmer, covered, for about an hour, or until bean skins split when you blow on them (or they’re otherwise tasty). 6. Either use beans right away or freeze in their broth. Freeze extra broth for whatever you want.
Re pressure cookers: they are useful, but the regular boil in pot method works just fine! You definitely don’t NEED need to get one before you start cooking dry beans.
Very helpful–thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you for taking the time to share the recipe, we have many very frugal meals which we enjoy. Maybe not everyone would but, hey, that is ok!
Yep, to each their own (hopefully tasty) meal!
I have been one of those readers who has begged you to share this recipe so a BIG THANK YOU from me!!!! This looks super yum and I am going to make these over the weekend and try it out for my lunches. You’re the BEST!!
You are most welcome, my friend :)! Hope you enjoy it!
Here’s a recipe a health food nutritionist taught me years ago:
1 bunch of kale or chard or any other quick cooking leafy green except spinach.
Blanch the kale in boiling water. Then drain it thoroughly.
Heat about 1 tbsp, olive oil in a pan. Add the kale. Add garlic, salt and/or pepper, red pepper flakes, about 1 Tsp. of Worchestershire or steak sauce and 1 Tbsp. of dark sesame oil. Stir fry the above for about 1 minute or until everything is heated, Sprinkle with about 2 Tbsp. of sesame seeds and voila, tasty greens for dinner! I know people who otherwise HATE greens but love this method of preparing them.
You can also add Italian seasoning or Mrs. Dash or Penzey’s Mural of Flavor.
Yum! That looks delicious, especially the sesame oil. I love that stuff! I grew up eating collards, so I have a deep love of bitter leafy greens like kale.
Alright Mr. & Mz. F, I made this and I have to say it tastes great! I think it’s a keeper in the frugal and tasty recipe file. As I sit here eating said dish let me add a Pro Asian tip on the rice. Granted my Caucasion hubby says he can make a better pot of rice than this Eurasian gal but I beg to differ. Any amount of rice in a pot needs to have 1-1.5 inch of water over the amount of rice. This alleviates measuring. I always eyeball it. Hardcore Asians measure with their fingers based on the distances between knuckles – no thanks. Always cook your rice in a pot over the stove. Always rinse rice in said pot three times (ancient Asian susperstition but I think it has something to do with rinsing starch and arsenic but my mom always does it so I do it too) then fill to inch in over the amount of rice in the pot. Put on the stove at high heat to bring to a boil and stir occassionaly so rice does not stick to bottom. Once at a heavy boil for a minute, cover but not tightly, leave a crack between to top and pot, and turn off burner and leave completely alone for 10 minutes. Perfectly steamed rice everytime. Also, in your recipe I substituted Siracha for the chili paste and I still think it works. Thx for the recipe! Love your site!
Glad the recipe came out well! Yeah, stovetop rice works well for us. The gadget lover in me always eyes the rice cookers… but we honestly don’t need it.
YUMMY! I can’t wait to get into a new place so Jay can cook this for me! Thanks F.W.s, one and all! 😀
You are most welcome! I hope you enjoy it–I bet it’ll taste good in Florida too :). And I hope you find a place soon!
Made it again tonight. Bought dry black beans and cooked them in the pressure cooker first – no soak, 25 min. on high pressure and quick release. Perfect!
Oh so glad they came out well! I’m scoping pressure cookers on craigslist, looks like I’ll be able to get a decent deal sometime soon. Thanks for the cooking time note, I’m sure there will be plenty to learn when I start using one myself!
Hi! Noob reader here…
I am not sure if this applies to all beans as I have only tested it on navy beans, mung beans, urad lentils and kidney beans but I have found that adding the salt after the beans cook greatly reduces the cooking time. I forget where I read this unfortunately but the instructions were to use salt when you soak your dried beans overnight and then rinse before cooking (and discard the rinsing water) then add your salt at the end once the beans are done. Before I did this I occasionally had batches that just would not finish even after hours of cooking but since I started adding the salt at the end, everything seems to finish 2x as fast. I’m only 5 batches in to this new method but so far it’s saving me a ton of cooking time.
P.S. Love your blog, can’t believe it took me this long to check it out, I’ve been noticing your comments on the MMM blog for a few months now.
Huh, neat! I think I’ve heard that somewhere, but I probably would have done the exact opposite by instinct. I’m so used to salting pasta water and rice water… I would have totally salted my bean water too! Thanks for the tip!
Mr. Bug and I have made this twice now and surprisingly we love it! I was concerned I would get bored eating the same thing every day but the simplicity of it and not having to think about what I will have for lunch and the added bonus of the frugal factor makes it perfect. I can’t wait to see how much we will save in our budget. Thanks so much for sharing!
Oh I’m so happy to hear that! It really is so tasty that we don’t mind eating it M-F. So glad you’re enjoying it, thanks for letting me know 🙂
Do you go to Haymarket at all to get any of your veggies? I haven’t this winter since we have had like a bajillion blizzards, but I can purchase a ton of fruits and veg for like no money!
You know, we haven’t been there in years! Thank you for reminding me to check it out once the snow melts, which at this rate will probably be August ;)…
I am going tomorrow! Wish me luck.
You are brave! Good luck :)!
In my experience, black beans soaked for 24 hours take about 20 mins to cook. Super easy and we do it all the time.
Great, thanks for the tip! We’ll have to try it out 🙂
I made your rice and bean dish this month. I LOVE it. (I’m a vegetarian) Thanks for turning me onto the chili paste – I’ve seen it, just never tried it. And after raising a family and cooking all these years, I’d never bought shallots. Mine is a dinner dish not lunch – Its only me so I froze most of it and just take out servings and reheat. yummy – thanks!.
Oh I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know :)!
I made this today. I don’t like spicy stuff, so I switched it to salsa instead of chili paste and put in a few spices. The addition of the mushrooms really worked. I am enjoying my rice and beans a great deal. Thanks for the recipe!
Oh good! I’m so glad to hear you liked it! That’s awesome 🙂
I know this is an older post, but I hope you see the comment! Where are you getting 20lbs of Basmati for $19?! That’s less than half of what we pay!
I know this is an old post, but I just recently discovered Frugalwoods and am reading a little at a time. Re the beans, I just soak them for 2 hours then cook for 1 1/2 hours and then put into 8 oz containers (1 cup) and freeze them all. Then when a recipe calls for 2 cups, I just defrost 2 containers. The containers are recycled ones from buying sour cream etc. I probably should soak the beans overnight and then cook one hour like the above poster said, that would be more frugal. I use the beans for recipes, over green salads, snack on them with salsa, or with olive oil and vinegar and chopped garlic. I’m Italian and my other mentioned an old wives tale that the raw garlic kills the “worms inside you”. I don’t know if that’s true but old-wives tales are sometimes good wisdom. It doesn’t hurt, anyway. LOL
This is an older post, but I finally made this recipe tonight after being extra inspired by frugality posts. And this meal truly is epic! I opted to use the rice cooker, adding the rice afterwards. Toppings of diced green onion and cilantro brought this dish to a different level!
Thanks for posting this! We started using your recipe a couple of months ago and it has become one of our favourites 🙂 We cook the beans overnight in the slow cooker and lately have been adding shrimp at the end of the cooking time as well. Thanks again for posting it!
How are you getting that much chili paste for so cheap? I can’t find it for that much, more like 2 or 3 times that much unfortunately.
It probably has something to do with location. It’s easier to find up north in larger cities than it would be to find them in a small college town in the middle of nowhere, which is where I am. ^_^ See if you can find it in a local Korean Market! It should be cheaper there. Be careful, though! They also have delicious, not-frugal-at-all, goodies like green tea kitkats! T_T
I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say “Beans and Rice, rice and beans” for years. I never put it to action… until today. This is the first recipe I’ve tried. I have to say that that it cost me as least twice as much to make as it does you, but I’m kind of a stickler for organic ingredients. Regardless, this is great. I’ll save a ton of money!
My husband has made this recipe twice. First with canned beans, and the most recent time by pressure cooking dried beans. Although I love the frugality and taste of this recipe, sleeping in bed with my husband has become horrid since he discovered this recipe. Any more lunch recipes?
I made this last Sunday and am just finishing it off. I’ll admit, I got a bit tired of it having it one meal each day this week… but yesterday I added a few tablespoons of guacamole and some mild salsa. YUM! Yes, I realize it will greatly increase the recipe cost… but compared to the temptation to eat out or make a whole other meal, it’s totally worth it for me. 🙂
Thank you for posting this! I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now since discovering it on boston.com. Today I decided to search for the much-discussed lunch and was glad to find the recipe! I’ve been meal prepping for years! My go-to is zucchini and squash with barilla-plus angel hair (high protein!). I vary it by sometimes adding mushroom, bell peppers, parmesan cheese etc (amazing what parmesan cheese will do, right?). If you ever feel lazy or tired (perhaps after the baby comes!), it’s not quite as cheap but Trader Joe’s makes meal prepping easy with frozen veggies. Can make your pasta or rice as usual, sauté the frozen TJ’s veggie, add together and voila! Our favorite is their Vegetable Melange, second favorite is the fire roasted vegetables (skimpy on the green beans so I add in their frozen haricots verts).
Looking forward to trying this recipe this weekend. This should help my fatigue of thinking about what to do for lunch every day!
For the beans, its expensive, but I only use Eden organic because 1) we eat mostly organic 2) the cans are free of BPA, BPS, and PVC toxins 3) they use wakame in the cooking, which increases digestibility. (You can add wakame when you cook from scratch also–it is especially helpful if you aren’t used to eating beans and your intestinal flora hasn’t caught up to it).
Thanks everyone for all the tips about how to cook beans. Every time I try, they come out under done no matter how long I cook them. Yuck. I will see about getting a pressure cooker.
p.s. I chuckled over the comment about your not being all that frugal at $330 a month for food. I finally added it all up and one month we were at $1300 for the month (for 2 people and 2 cats). Now I think we are down to about $1000 a month. Of course, that does include all eating out, toiletries, household goods, and organic turkey for the cat food which I make from scratch, but still! (I know, I know…but our cat recovered from near death auto-immune disease when we started cooking the cat food ourselves. Non-organic would probably do, as long as its people-grade food, but I haven’t switched yet.)
Gallo pinto (painted rooster)! It’s what they have three times a day in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It’s on every plate as a side, often as almost the only thing on the plate of the poorer populace, with some fried plantain pieces. Your recipe sounds dee-lish.
I know this is a very old post but try toasting your rice in the oil before you cool it. So good and it smells like popcorn.
After soaking, I sometimes cook my dried beans (and brown rice) in a Wonderbag. Saves on energy, you just bring to a boil then put the covered pot in the Wonderbag to sit all day. Black beans sometimes need a second round, but faster-cooking beans like pintos, black-eyes and lentils are done in a few hours. No doubt the clever Frugalwoods could probably make their own, but the Wonderbag is not expensive and for every purchase they donate a second to an African family.
I’m a faithful reader to your blog since I discovered it on Forbes magasine!
In order to live on a budget in Paris and being vegetarian for more than 10 years (except for the occasional fish), I decided that my daily lunch box is the best investment for my health and budget.
I was excited to read your food postings about your lunch box ritual! However, I wonder whether you’re buying canned beans or cook the dried beans yourself?
I find that the dried version is far less expensive (I get them from the indian supermarket) and more tasty. Besides they are way less heavy to carry 😉 The cooking time is really short if you let them soak in water at least over one night and let them cook for about 15 minutes with baking powder.
What’s your recipe ?
My fiance is a strength & conditioning coach who eats ALOT of protein so our food bill gets rather expensive. Since we moved in together, I’ve eaten healthier (less carbs, more protein) too and I don’t regret spending the extra money on my health. I used to eat alot of pasta since it was so inexpensive and easy but it wasn’t doing anything for me (I was lifting weights but building no muscle, essentially maintaining the skinny fat bodytype etc). We save money on food by not buying processed or pre-packaged stuff, by eating lots of eggs, by repeating the same meals over and over, and by limiting our shopping trips to once a week if possible. We also buy from the cheapest grocery stores around (our local Trader Joes-type places). I think we spend the most money on grass-fed meat & peanut butter/almond butter. The rest we spend on avocados, eggs, plain yogurt, and deli-meat. We also got a slow-cooker which has made cooking 100x easier and taste better!!
My 21 y.o. son made a batch of rice and beans based on your recipe last night and we are LOVING it! His simplified version was to cook brown rice, then just add in the other ingreds as they are (raw garlic, onion, mushrooms). He also added just one cooked chicken breast from the fridge (we’re slowly moving toward vegetarian, but he still likes some chicken on occasion) for the whole batch, a grated carrot, and a grated apple to counterbalance his heavy-handedness on the salt (Adobo, actually). We used canned beans this time, will go for dry beans in the future. This meal will be in regular rotation here. Definitely a winner. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Thank you!
Frugalwoods family, don’t settle for just any pressure cooker. Investigate the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. I can’t imagine you will get one used. No one that I know would part with theirs! It will pay for itself in slightly cheaper meals (it’s hard to improve on what you currently spend), but the real benefit is the time it saves. It takes beans or chili from dried to ready in 60 minutes. It makes the easiest to peel hard boiled eggs in 6 minutes. Perfect white rice is 12 minutes. When you do want to splurge on meat, you can turn the lowliest cut my of meat into a gourmet meal in no time at all. Clean up is ridiculously easy, and cooking under pressure is energy efficient. The reason you want an electric pressure cooker, and this one in particular, is the ease of use. It can’t save you time and money if you don’t use it. You won’t use it if it’s a pain to use. Ours really allowed us to transform our cost per scrumptious meal calculations. Either way, I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks!
Seems like there have been quite a few comments on mushroom substitutes. We have found that 1lb of oven-roasted butternut squash tossed in olive oil makes for a really tasty replacement! On our 5th week after trying eggplant for a bit and we haven’t gotten tired of it yet! We also sprinkle some cheese on top which I know isn’t quiet as frugal but it keeps us interested. Bon appetite!
Thanks for sharing the awesome recipe! If you ever tire of rice and beans, may I suggest you try mujaddara? It is a middle eastern dish of rice and lentils which requires almost no prep time and similar cook time, especially if you skip the caramelized onion garnish recommended in most recipes or reserve it for when you have time. You can play with the spices and I bet its even cheaper than rice and beans 😛
My recipe is very simple: 2 cups rice; 2 cups lentils. Boil the lentils in salted water with spices thrown in (cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and chili powder). In the meantime, saute a large onion chopped however you like in olive oil. Once it begins turning golden, stir in well-rinsed rice and toss it around in the olive oil and slightly caramelized onion mixture. Season with same spices as lentils. Toss the whole lot in with the now boiled lentils, top up the water so that it is just covering everything, set to low heat to simmer covered to cook the rice. I add a couple of cubes of maggi chicken stock (not sure if those are available in the US) before I leave it to simmer and stir in some extra olive oil for more flavor, but you can skip one or both of these steps. Voila! You could garnish this with caramelized onion on fancy days and it is great next to any kind of salad or plain yogurt!
Hello There, I’ve just discovered this wonderfully frugal blog and I want to try this recipe tonight. do you freeze the portions that you take to work later in the week? I know you posted this ages ago but how do you keep 12 portions fresh for the week?
Hi Tina! We just keep the portions in the refrigerator for the week–they do just fine in there, no need to freeze 🙂
I have been enjoying your blog and decided to cook this for dinner tonight. I did a slow cooker full of two pounds of black beans, soaked overnight, super easy. A pot of rice. Then the grown ups were able to have your yummy version while the four little ones had plain rice and beans or rice and cheese or whatever, depending on the kid (you’ll be seeing this soon! but persist in offering whatever you eat and eventually the child will eat what you eat – our seven year old is almost there). I wasn’t sure I would love it, but it was great.
I can only aford $7 for lunch for the whole week does anybody know anything good?
Thankyou for this recipe, so easy and so scummy! As a vegetarian with not much time on her hands I have been searching for a more flavorful rice and beans recipe that I can get ready ahead of time. I used sesame oil when frying the shallots simply because I love the aroma, and then topped with black sesame seeds (for taste and texture). I also used changed it up to use one can of red beans and two black, just for colour. This is going into my special “recipe book”. Thanks once again.
I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone might have already suggested this, but a pressure cooker is a really great help if you cook a lot of beans or any other items that need long cooking. In a pressure cooker, the cooking time for red beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, etc is reduced to 30 min maximum. You should give it a try. And the home cooked beans and chickpeas taste so much better than the ones from the can. And you will be able to save some money by buying the beans in bulk. You just need to put them to soak over night, rinse them and cook them in the pressure cooker the next day. It will hardly extend your cooking time as you can prepare other items while the beans are cooking.
I’ve never had great luck with dried beans in the slow cooker. I bet if I played with the timing and temp it would work (I think high might be better than low). Cooking in a pot is so easy though — soak overnight, then cook for about 1.5 hrs with a chopped onion, adding salt at the end. Pintos especially are so much better tasting that way. Nothing wrong with canned beans and actually they are supposed to be just as good for you, but the taste is quite different.
Is Korean chili paste really hot and spicy? Not a big fan of lots of heat.
+1 more for dried beans in the pressure cooker. I just did this last night to make a dinner + freezer meal. Based on the comments I doubled the portions for DH and I because DINNER and also we eat huge quantities. I decided to actually just freeze two thirds of the mushroom-chili base only for two more meals. Then since the rice & beans is the last step, I made the equivalent of one can beans + a layer of steamed rice in the pressure cooker using the method found here: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooked-chickpea-curry-with-brown-rice-one-pot-meal/ (I’ve been loving her stacking methods for cooking two varieties of beans or beans & rice as a one-pot meal). The mushroom base actually takes up very little space in the freezer for two more meals – maybe each is about a 6oz container’s worth? Now I will need planning time to soak beans for the freezer meals, but it should be a nice cheap alternate to our “I’m too tired to cook” meals (which based on my work schedule, I can usually guess ahead). Thanks!
I’m making this rn! Is it supposed to smell like fish? I’m unsure if I bought the right chili paste, since there’s only 1 major market near us. The ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp, and anchovy extract. Is that the right one?
I do something similar, but I freeze the portions and make something new each week for variety, plus I always use dried beans and lentils for larger cost savings. Another exception is that I eat a smaller portion and add a lot of vegetables to the meal. You can still travel with it. For variety, the recipes vary from Indian curries, to Mexican, to chili, to BBQ, to “meatloaf” style, to Asian flavors. I cook up a big pot of beans each week and freeze them for recipes, and my freezer always has black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, lima beans, lentils, split pea soup, and more available for any meal or recipe.
I’ve always done that, even when working a demanding job. The schedule was Friday night use up leftover veggies in the stewpot and make a grocery list, soak beans overnight. Saturday morning start breads, do laundry, clean house, put stew away, buy groceries, cook beans, finish breads, prep all veggies, make bulk recipes for the week, all with the help of entire family. Now I’m in the mood for a lentil meatloaf with a tomato paste topping! Yum…
I just made your rice and bean recipe and I love it! I’m a single mom with two active teenage girls and I’m always looking for quick, cheap but healthy and tasty meals. My youngest recently decided to become a vegetarian. Lucky for me, she loves rice and beans. I thought I’d try this recipe to mix it up a bit. This was so quick to pull together! I used red onion, instead of shallots because that’s what I had. I also used 3 tbsp of the chili sauce rather than 4 so as to ease up a bit on the spice effect for my girls. In addition, for time’s sake, I use minced garlic I buy in big jar at Costco (although, I think fresh tends to add better flavor!) By the way, I have a cheap little rice cooker I purchased at Target about 10-12 years ago that has been a life saver! It provides perfect rice every time, I also use it to make quinoa! And last but not least…I love your blog! Thanks for this recipe and all the inspiration your blog provides!
I just had to add, my 13 yr old daughter was getting her rice and beans ready to put in her lunch this AM and said “Mom, these rice and beans are so Gourmet!”
Just made this recipe and … yum! I did add a few other spices as I like a really complex flavour.
A question about the heat. I started with 2 tbsp of Sambal Oelek and it had a little kick. Next time I might try 3 tbsp. But 4? Holy Inferno, Batman! That would be one spicy dish. Or I am using something other than what you suggested?
Loving your blog! I binged on it last night and I’m glad there’s lots more left to read. Thanks!
Korean chili paste is also called gochujang and is more mild than sambal oelek. It’s fermented and very rich in umami rather than just spice.
Where are you guys finding canned black beans for $.49/can???? Lucky you!! To find canned black beans with low sodium (Goya you picture is high in sodium), my price/15oz can is $2.29. Our aldi doesn’t even come close to the $.49!
Another great way to use this recipe especially if you are going for a more low carb diet is to substitute riced cauliflower for the rice. Love the recipe!
Oooh, I’m going to try this next time, I think it’d be even tastier. Thanks for the suggestion!
I know I’m a bit late to the party here but I have a question…is it ok to reheat cooked rice? My husband tells me you shouldn’t do that…
Suggestion for the beans/rice dish…. buy Butler’s Soy Curls in bulk. Rehydrate some with a mix of hot water and a bacon-flavored marinade (liquid smoke, maple syrup, and tamari– google “vegan bacon” for the exact recipe). Chop up into bit-size pieces, throw into a jar, and use it to augment rice dishes, baked potatoes, etc. It’s delicious and adds that bacon flavor we love. I keep a jar of this on hand and throw it into lots of dishes and it would be a great addition to the beans and rice dish!
Please note that red kidney beans are not safe to cook in a slow cooker. They need a higher temp. Other beans are fine in the slow cooker.
Question for you – how long does this stay fresh in the fridge? I made a pot this morning (Thursday) and I’m wondering if I can leave the individual portions for my husband to take to work with him next week in the fridge or whether I’d better freeze them now. What has been your experience? Thanks!
Bonus question – what are your thoughts on using Sriracha instead of chili paste? Or alternatively, can you recommend a brand of chili paste that you like? I’m new to cooking with chili paste in general and the only one I found at the store that looked palatable was considerably more expensive than yours. (Maybe I just don’t know what I’m looking for, tho.) Appreciate any thoughts you can share!
We just tried this recipe with a few changes because we didn’t have everything, it turned out great 🙂
It’s so simple and yet so good! Thanks 🙂
Wow… sounds like that Money Mustache guy or the ERE folks. Do you all still do this?
We made this last night! Tastes great! 😊
Alright Mr. Frugalwoods-even though it’s been 3 years since this post, I have to comment. I made this using dried black beans-WAY more cooking! Took 10 hours on high in the crockpot. I made this using red onions, and 4 tablespoons of sirache sauce. It was delicious!! AND………three neighbors came over and had heaping bowls full and went over the moon on this recipe. So, I see a cookbook in your future! I will also be cooking more tomorrow, so I have something for lunches. 😉
Thanks for sharing! I also like having all the same meals except for dinner! It makes it easier to have all the nutrition facts memorized if I only have a few meals that I rotate occasionally (1 or 2 times a year). I think I’ll try this recipe out next time I switch up my meals!
Delicious! I just made this with cajun seasoning mix instead of the recommended chili paste because I don’t have any. I added extra mushrooms and used a premade garlic and ginger paste. Definitely will make again. Would love to know any other lunch recipes you guys love. Cheers!
I thought you were exaggerating when you said this was “epically frugal”. It seriously is. I’m going to experiment with this. Thank you!
Apologies if this question has already been asked and answered but are those beans red coloured? They look red in your photo. In Australia the red beans are called kidney beans and black beans are smaller, black-coloured beans. Am unsure what to use.😊
I can all my beans in the pressure canner, they taste 100 times better then bought canned beans. I do this for all types and especially chick peas. one bag of dried beans costs 1.97 and I get 20 half pints from them, the savings is awesome and they’re ready whenever you need them, no soaking!
I just made this today, and it’s amazing. I used our instant pot to make the black beans from dried (just put 1 lb of rinsed dry beans in with 6 cups of water or veggie broth and set it on high for 30 mins). Both my husband and I are really impressed with the flavor. He added sriracha to his, and I added sambal olek to mine. We’re happy campers. Thank you for the recipe!
I think the size of chicken breasts has changed dramatically since Julia Child’s day, which could account for some of her shorter cook time.
What store or stores so you shop at for these ingredients? Feeling doubtful if Aldi can handle this recipe. 😅
I REALLY appreciate that you provide actual accounting of the costs, rather than making a claim with no numbers to back it up. Thanks so much! : )