I hope to have the next article in the “How to Budget” series posted tomorrow, but I really want to share this recipe today. If you’re just getting in on the “How to Budget” series, I only started last week so you’ll have an easy time catching up. The first article is available here.
The hardest part of budgeting is not writing up the numbers, although being forced to face the reality of your particular numbers can be painful. The hardest part is actually living on the budget you’ve set up. If you want to stay on track you’ll probably end up making some lifestyle changes. Maybe you’ll shop less, or in different stores, or with discounts and coupons. Maybe you’ll stay home instead of going out for entertainment. Maybe you’ll change your eating habits to incorporate more affordable meals and fewer restaurant and carryout options.
You may have heard of going on a “beans & rice” meal plan in order to reduce your grocery budget. It actually helps, since beans & rice are a very affordable and nutritious way to feed a family. The problem with dried beans is the amount of time required to cook them. I like to do mine in the crock pot and freeze them in meal-sized portions. Some people prefer to home can (bottle) them or use a pressure cooker. Some people skip the dried beans altogether and buy them canned at the store.
While dried beans are almost always the least expensive way to add this protein-rich, fiber-rich food source to your pantry, I’ve found canned beans on super-duper clearance and bought them by the case when the price was right. However you purchase and cook them, beans can be bland without a little seasoning to zing things up. Enter the “Bean-Zing” bean seasoning mix.
You can shake up Bean-Zing and keep it in your pantry to make quick beans & rice suppers happen even on hectic days. Getting the meal together quickly at the last minute requires you to prep your pantry in advance of the busy night. First, you need to mix up the Bean-Zing and have it ready in the pantry. Second, you need to either pre-cook and freeze some dried beans or find some canned beans on a good sale. Finally, you need to have some instant rice, the kind that cooks in five minutes, in the pantry next to the beans and the Bean-Zing. If you are willing to take a little longer to cook on the busy night then you can always make some white rice (quicker) or brown rice (slower) right before you eat.
Bean-Zing (Bean Seasoning)
Combine 1 cup instant onion flakes, 1/3 cup cumin, 1/3 cup chili powder, and 1/3 cup garlic salt in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to combine ingredients. Shake again before each use. Store the container of Bean-Zing tightly sealed in your pantry.
To make the beans & rice meal: Prepare the rice according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, put the beans in a saucepan with some of the liquid from the can or a little water. Then add one tablespoon of Bean-Zing seasoning mix per 15-ounce can or two-cup freezer container of beans. Bring the beans up to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the beans are hot and the rice is cooked, you’re ready to top a scoop of rice with a scoop of beans and enjoy a hot supper. This meal can come together in 10-15 minutes if you use instant rice.
My thought is that it’s easier to add heat than take it out, so Bean-Zing is savory rather than spicy. You can always add a dash of hot sauce or pepper flakes to your serving if you like your tongue to tingle.
Want More Recipes from the Pantry?
How do you spice up your beans & rice suppers?
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