How We Eat Beans and Rice!

Dave Ramsey, in his FPU course has the phrase, “Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans!” and when I first heard him say it, I thought, “Ehh I could eat little of that but not all the time.” Well I am finding that we actually like to eat beans and rice more than we ever expected.

There are tons of ways to eat beans and rice. Today I am going tell you how I do my current favorite form of the meal. And yes even my kids eat it and enjoy it. I cooked this for dinner at our house on Tuesday night. My 5 yo came and asked me what was for dinner. I answered, “Beans and rice with cabbage.” She replied with a sigh of relief while falling onto the floor. “Phew! I am glad it isn’t soup again.” She loves beans and rice. Each of my kids adds their own personal touches to the meal, my 5 yo prefers to add ranch. My 4 yo son prefers BBQ sauce. Each one has their preferences.

How to serve beans and Rice

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I love cabbage with my beans and rice. It has a sweetness to it once it has been cooked and slightly carmelized. It really adds a nice touch. My husband prefers sautéed onions with his, those are good too honestly.

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I give my cabbage a rough chop after removing the core, and I saute it in a dutch oven with some butter and salt. I use a dutch oven because I often am cooking a lot of cabbage. This is actually a small head I would have prefered twice this much for our dinner but we made it stretch.

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Again my favorite dutch oven, I use this pot for almost everything.

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I cooked a pot of black beans for this dinner. I like to use either black beans or pinto beans for this meal. I don’t personally like kidney beans because the outer skin is so tough.

I cooked a normal pot of rice and when it is dished up it looks like this:

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I personally add hot sauce to mine, and mix everything together. I love spicy food and this is one dish that handles the spice well.

There are many different ways to cook beans and rice. Beans are really an amazing food that can be used in so many different ways. Some more ideas for ways to cook beans and rice are:

  • Stir-fry vegetables and add Navy beans and your favorite asian flavors or sauces. This one can be so yummy.
  • Make a Mexican themed dinner with your favorite mexican flavors. Beans and Rice, sautéed peppers and onions, cheese, salsa etc.
  • Make Creamed chicken and instead of the chicken meat or even in addition to it add navy beans and serve it over rice.

There are countless ways to use beans. They are an inexpensive protein that when combined with rice gives you a complete protein. Add your favorite veggies and flavors and you have  a great meal.

What is your favorite way to cook with beans?

 

 

 

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Making Chili with What You’ve Got.

Chili with LeftOvers

One great way to use up the food that you have in the refrigerator is by making soups, chili or stews. We cook with a lot of beans at our house and chili is a great way to use up some leftover beans that are collecting in the fridge.

This past week I cooked two pots of beans. One was pinto beans and the other was navy beans. I like both of these beans because they cook up soft and the skin of the bean is not tough.

I decided that Chili would be a good meal for us on Monday. I did not have any ground meat. My typical chili has ground meat in it and a lot of tomato sauce. It is more like your typical chili. This week I couldn’t make my typical chili because I didn’t have all the ingredients so here is what I did:

I chopped up

  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Peppers
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 2 small zucchini

I added them to my pot.

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I sweated these down with a little salt and some olive oil in my dutch oven.

I then added:

  • pinto beans
  • navy beans
  • leftover beef stock from soup made earlier in the week
  • leftover chicken stock
  • 2 jars of my mom’s canned tomatoes

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I love having these tomatoes. It is such a handy thing to have garden fresh, preserved tomatoes on hand for things like this.

I then added my seasoning.

  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • cummin
  • oregano

I pretty much just add to taste. Which means you have to keep testing your chili. Since my goal is to use up what we have in the fridge and not let those things go to waste, there isn’t exact measurements for the beans. Depending on how much chili you end up with will determine how much of the spices you add.

I believe that you know what you like, and you know how you want something to taste. So as you are cooking taste the food and think about what would make it taste good. Does this mean sometimes it won’t always taste the best because you made a mistake? Yes. Is that ok? Yes. 😉

That is how you learn. It is a good thing.

I ended up with a lot of chili. We ate our dinner, my husband took some to work the next day and I put two containers of it in the freezer for later. I might use it this weekend as our Sunday meal.

What are you cooking this week?

 

 

 

What am I feeding my Family This week?

Soup, a frugal go to meal

 

Over the weekend I try to limit my cooking. My husband doesn’t like me to be busy on Sunday’s so my goal is to have plenty of left overs in our fridge to eat through Sunday night.

Thursday I made this big pot of soup for our dinner.

Friday we had pizza night. I like to do something like this once a week so that I don’t have to do so much cooking at least one day during the week. Since we can’t go out to eat that often it usually looks like some sort of processed, frozen type meal.

Saturday I cooked a ham. We do eat a lot of ham. I buy it because it is relatively cheap. My family really likes it so that helps. I do all sorts of things with ham. Saturday afternoon I cooked the ham, and my plan was to make ham, potatoes, beans, and a vegetable for dinner. It didn’t work out that way. My husband had some trouble with our van so he was out taking care of car issues and I was home with the kids. So We had ham sandwiches. (I didn’t want to go to too much trouble, and the kids prefer the sandwiches.)

Sunday For our lunch we had ham sandwiches again, and for supper we ate soup. It was a nice thing to have available for such a cold cloudy day. — We don’t usually pay much attention to football so the Superbowl was not even on our radar.

Note: When I cook a ham there are a few things that I do with the stuff that is left over. Usually there is a good bit of mean that you just can’t cut off the bone. I wrap that up in a bag and stick it in the freezer. When cooking beans it is always nice to have a ham bone to throw in. The bone adds great flavor to the beans, and when you are running low on meat in the house you will be surprised how much meat can come off the bone once you cook it again in the beans. Also there is usually some ham broth in the bottom of the baking dish. I save that too and put it into the freezer. I use that for soups as well as for cooking beans. It also adds nice flavor to rice if you are looking for something different.

Plans for This week:

I have a good bit of stuff in my refrigerator. I will be eating what is there for a while. For example, we will eat the soup until it is gone. That will probably make a few good lunches for my husband and I.

I also have two types of left over beans that are in the refrigerator. I will probably make some vegetarian chili on Monday. To make my chili I take beans, and sometimes ground turkey if I have any in the house. I will add some beef broth for flavor because I have that in the fridge. I will add some veggies like carrots, celery, onion and garlic and then all the yummy chili flavorings.

I find that the best way for me to be careful with my budget is to really make use of everything that we have in the house. That means: If I cook something we eat all the left-overs. Sometimes that means sending them in a lunch for my husband, or I eat them for lunch at home. Other times it means having a dinner that it is a hodgepodge of different left over items.

Tuesday will probably be a beans and rice day. That is a go to meal here at my house that we eat a lot. I am assuming we will have some more beans left over and if so I want to eat them before they go bad. My favorite way to cook beans and rice is:

Saute some onions and peppers.

Warm beans

Cook Rice

Sauted Cabbage.

When I serve it I put the rice down, and beans on top of the rice and topped off with the sauted onions and peppers. The cabbage is served on the side. I like to add Saracha sauce to mine because I like spicy, but my kids usually add ranch. Another great addition is guacamole, but since some members of my family have an avocado allergy we don’t keep it in the house any more.

There are a lot of ways to cook beans and rice. This is a way that is simple and really tasty. If anyone has a favorite way they want to share I would love to hear about it.

A Frugal Meal: Soup with Beans

Do you use beans? I cook with a lot of beans. I have found beans to be a wonderful go to protein when we can’t afford to buy meat, or we are tired of the meat we can buy. I enjoy meat, but I could easily be a vegetarian. I have not always enjoyed eating beans, but I have learned that when beans are cooked properly they can be a tasty addition to many meals.

Today I am making some soup, and I might include beans in it if I can’t find enough protein around the house to add to my soup. So I am cooking some navy beans today. My favorite way of cooking beans is in my crock pot. It is such as simple way of cooking beans and they end up with perfect texture. I have learned to cook beans on the stove top as well, but often I do not pay close enough attention and my beans end up with a texture that isn’t as nice. So when I learned that the crock pot was originally made to cook beans I decided I would use it for cooking beans!

I picked up a bag of Navy beans from Bilo. [Aldi doesn’t always sell Navy beans, usually they only have black beans, pinto beans, and Navy beans.]

Using Dried Beans

 

Many people tell me that they don’t have time to cook beans because of the required soaking that is recommended on the back side of the bag. Here’s a secret for you– I don’t soak my beans! It isn’t necessary especially if you are using a crock pot. I take the bag and pour them into my crock pot.

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I fill my pot with water that is about 3 inches above the top of the beans. You may need to add more water, so at some point in the day check your pot and make sure that the beans are not getting dry.

For a recap:

Dried Beans in Pot.

Water in Pot.

Next Step:

Best way to cook beans: CrockPot

 

Put pot into base, put lid on the pot. Turn the pot on high, and make sure it is plugged in. Walk away. Until later when you check the beans to make sure there is enough water in the pot. Let the beans cook most of the day, and after about 6 hours check the beans for tenderness. If you desire you can turn the pot down or if they are at the level of tenderness that you like turn off the pot. They are now ready to use in whatever way you choose. Once they are cooked, beans will freeze quite well so if you find you have cooked more beans that you need for a specific meal just freeze them for later.

I started my beans around the same time that I started the soup:

Soup, a frugal go to meal

 

I don’t want my veggies to over cook, so I don’t plan to let this pot simmer all day, but I have my broth out, and I am letting that thaw a bit and will warm it in the pot a bit this morning. Then I add the vegetables, and protein to the soup. I then turn off the pot. Depending on when you do this process you may want to put the pot into the fridge for a while until time to cook the veggies.

By late morning my pot had several different broths in it, carrots, onions, garlic, green beans, potatoes, and some left over turkey. I had some turkey bones in the freezer. Yep I keep the bones after I have cooked a turkey and we have eaten most of the meat off of it. I boiled those bones down this morning and let them cool. That is where I got the turkey for our soup. The next time you have a bone from a whole bird or a roast you have cooked, stick that bone in the freezer and save it for when you cook soup!

How is your Frugal grocery shopping going? What deals are you finding where you are? I would love to hear how things are going for you.

 

Our Budget Shouldn’t Work.

Last night while wandering around on Facebook, I saw an interesting statistic:5aa79-background-163811_1280

“The FDA says that a family of 4, eating moderately at home, spends on average $245 / week.”

Yep that says per week. I was stunned. This report isn’t talking about people who are extravagant or eating out all the time. They were mostly eating at home.  Just buying the normal at home cooked meals. The price of food is always going up and it seems that living within a smaller income is impossible. I am here to tell you that there is hope. You can feed your family on less. If you choose to attempt to cut your food budget it will take hard work, some really hard choices, giving up things you have always had, and learning to be content with less. But it can be done.

Aren’t we called to be good stewards of our resources. We are called to be intentional and wise. This means that you may not have the freedom to go to the grocery store and buy whatever hits your fancy. It means planning, and choosing carefully.

This past two-week period I did not have our usual grocery amount. After I bought diapers I ended up with $145 for our food for the past two weeks. I was given some groceries by my mom which enabled our budget to stretch way more than it would have otherwise. And for that I am thankful.

In addition to that Bilo was having some pretty amazing sales here. I was able to buy a ham that was on sale: $1.49/lb. That is more than what I pay at Aldi, but this was a spiral sliced ham. I saved $24.65 just on the ham. In addition they had Almond Milk on sale 2 for $5.00 which is the same as Aldi’s price. Finally they were having a sale on frozen pizzas. I bought 4 pizza’s that are normally $6.99 each for $3.50/pizza. I saved a total of $43.31 in one store trip.

I knew what we needed and didn’t buy anything else. I walked slowly and carefully studying prices to see if what I was getting was really a bargain or not. When you head out to the store be prepared. Pay attention to the sales at that store. Usually this means taking your time as you move through the store. It also means taking care to know what foods cost. Educate yourself, and pay attention. I was able to save the way I did because I knew what the cheapest price around here was for those items I was looking for.

I am glad that Bilo was having the sales that I need this week. It doesn’t always work out that way. I am thankful that this week it did.

According to the quote above I had about $100 less to spend for a 2 week period. If I hadn’t found the sales that I did I would have purchased fresh vegetables and we would have eaten beans and rice and veggies until the next pay check came. But because we did have the sales available I took advantage of them. It is possible to live on less than what our culture tells us we need. It just takes some work and self-discipline.

Tomorrow is Pay day here. I will update you on what happens next. Come back soon.

Watching the Lord Provide

Give What you Can, God will Mulitiply it.

I have seen some interesting responses to my posts on this blog lately. It has brought to mind somethings I am learning from The Unveiled Wife. The basic idea behind her message is that as wives we need to stop hiding behind the veil that we so often pull over our hearts and our faces that keep us from true intimacy with our husbands, and our community.

I was hesitant to write about our life and our financial situation. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or my family. We are here because of deliberate choices that we have made. If I wanted to change our financial situation I am a trained Respiratory Therapist and I could go back to work and increase our income. I am choosing not to do that because I would rather live a life frugally and stay home with my children than to spend my days rushing about pushing myself to exhaustion and limiting my relationship with my children.

I have been humbled more than once at the out pouring of generosity that we have experienced from people as they have read what I am writing here. God has blessed our family in some pretty amazing ways. Many times we have received unexpected gifts of money, and gifts of food. It has been a sweet lesson in trusting God to provide what we need for each day.

The church I attend teaches that it is important to be transparent and to be participating within community. This can be a challenge with your life has needs or other issues that you don’t want to share. There can be misunderstanding and struggles. Yet I have found the more I am transparent the more God uses people to bless our family and give me opportunities to bless others around me.

It can be hard to accept things from others, but if you are willing to be transparent and show your need. God can use that experience to bless those around you. It could be by simply telling your story, or it could also be by listening to what others are dealing with and using that as a springboard to bless others as you can. You may feel like you don’t have much to offer, but if you are willing to offer what you do have, you will be amazed at what God does with it.

This weekend has felt like we have been showered with blessings. I received a trunk load of groceries, and was even given a gift of cash from an anonymous person. When I receive things like this my first response is to think that I need to stop sharing with people our life and how we live. Most people do not want to make the sacrifices, or I should say, supposed sacrifices that we make in order to live the way we do. I don’t usually feel like I am making sacrifices. [Except when I see a lovely purse or a beautiful pair of shoes that I can’t afford to spend money one! ;-)] Yet God wants us to share our lives with those around us. So I will continue to share my story about how and why we do what we do. I am thankful for the gifts that we have received.

In light of that, my plan for this week’s shopping has changed dramatically. I don’t have much grocery money this week at all. I went out on Friday and bought diapers and a few other necessities, and I have $145.44 to cover us until next week. Right now it feels like a lot, because of the amount of food that we have in the house.  I will keep you posted on how it moves along.

Tonight’s dinner is Pork Ribs in the crock pot. I am looking forward to those because I love the broth that comes from pork. I will be saving that for more soup! Yum I don’t have any BBQ sauce or if I do there is only a little. I might make some, or I might do something else. I am not sure yet.

I pray that as you look at your budget this week place it before the Lord. Ask Him to guide your spending and to provide your family with what it needs. God is so gracious to us if we just ask Him.

 

Making it Stretch: A Lesson in Frugality

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The Paycheck came late this week! Normally my husband’s Check comes on Tuesday every other week. He sits down and works out the budget for that next two weeks. The check is deposited Wednesday morning and I can go shopping Wednesday during the day if I choose, which I usually do. This week Things were different.

Tough Sacrifices Can be Made

I went to my husband and told him that I had $3 left and we had no lunch foods for the kids for the next day. My husband, who can be very generous, gave me his birthday money to spend for groceries. So I went out to the store with $23 to stock up with what I needed to get us through the next several days. I had a little bit of a problem though. Daniel had invited company over for dinner, so I was not able to get to Aldi before it closed.

That means that my $23 wouldn’t stretch as far as I had hoped. So I took what I had and I headed to the store. I wish I could say that I prayed over my situation before I drove away, looking back I wish I had. God had given me an unexpected gift and I should have been thankful for that gift, as well as asking God to guide my shopping.

Thinking Ahead

Since I had already cleaned out the refrigerator I knew what we had in the house to eat. I had some broth in the freezer that I had saved. I had beans, and I had rice. I ended up at Publix and I bought:

  • 3 loaves of Publix brand bread
  • 1 Gallon of Whole Milk
  • 1 1/2 Gallon of Almond Milk
  • 1 small jar of peanut butter
  • 1 Large bag of carrots
  • 1 bag of celery

I spent a total of $21.12.

So last night we had soup for dinner. I make a habit of keeping all the broth from the meat I cook. I have learned that when I buy a whole bird, or a pork shoulder there is usually some amazing broth left over. I strain that and keep it for later in the freezer. Last nights soup had pork broth, chicken broth, and a little ham broth all mixed together. I chopped up onions, carrots, celery, added some of my mom’s jarred tomatoes from last year’s garden, as well as some of her green beans. Seasoned to taste and Yummy supper.

As I write this Daniel has received his paycheck and yet has not had time to do the budget. It will still be a few days till I can go to the store. I am not concerned though. We have what we need.

I do need to add, my mom will often buy us things as she is out and about and finds deals. Yesterday she went to Deal Mart. There she was able to buy a ton of Chobani Yogurt for real cheap. I have not been to Deal Mart, and I don’t know where they are around the country. I know of two in our area. I want to do more research on Deal Mart, I will keep you updated. But we have a bunch of yogurt for the kids for snacks and maybe even some for my breakfast. 🙂

I have been blessed by family that is close by and so we do get some extras that we normally couldn’t afford. Even without these extras we have what we need in the house. Today I am planning:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: PB&J for the kids. Maybe left over soup for me if there is any left. I think there might be a potato left I might have that too.

Snack: Yogurt, Crackers from my mom, Carrots

Supper: Turkey, Stuffing, and peas. [ I have had a Turkey in my freezer for a month or so now. I thought now would be a good time to use it, I also had some of the stuffing mix that my husband liked, and I think we even have a can of cranberry sauce still!] We get to have a second Thanksgiving Dinner. I think that is appropriate. We can be Thankful for God’s blessings.

Tomorrow: 

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: PB&J for the kids, Maybe a salad with turkey for me, I think I have enough lettuce for that.

Snack: Yogurt, Carrots, Crackers if there are any left.

Supper: I am thinking of a Turkey and Rice Casserole. I need to see what we have, I don’t have pasta but maybe a Turkey Tetrazzini sort of thing with rice instead. I will need to do some research and see what I can pull off.

And hopefully by Friday I can go to the Store to stock back up. I still have a bunch of Quinoa in my house, I am thinking about doing something for me for breakfast with it. hmmmmmmmm

 

**Our paycheck is very small for the next two weeks. I am hoping that I can get Daniel his birthday money back. We shall see!

The End of The Budget

 

 

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Here is my fridge today. I took the opportunity afforded by the lack of stuff inside it to clean all the shelves. Doesn’t it look pretty! 😉 One advantage to eating everything you buy is that you can actually see what you have in the house. It might even force you to get creative with what you cook for dinner. Creative is good!

Today is payday for my husband. What that means is that the check should arrive in the mail. It does not mean that the money is available for me to go shopping. We are coming to the end of our groceries. I am pleased that we still have milk, both regular milk and the Almond milk that my two younger ones drink.

We used up the last loaf of bread today. That means I need to make bread either tonight or first thing tomorrow. We ended up using a lot of bread over the weekend. That meant the stash I had didn’t last all the way through our two weeks. I do not have any more money in the budget, in fact as you remember I went over by $16. It might be easier to run to the store tonight and pick up some bread. I do happen to have about $3 in my purse. And I could do that perhaps. [We received a survey from Neilson Surveys about our TV watching, it happened to have $5 in cash inside. Surprise!] I might go to the store. I don’t know yet. I also need peanut butter and if I am careful and maybe look for some hidden change I might have enough to buy one loaf of bread and a small jar of peanut butter from Aldi tonight.

Or I could make something different for my kids to eat. Yep I went there. I could actually make something different from peanut butter and honey for my kids to eat for their lunch tomorrow. Will that cause problems? Oh you bet! Will the kids complain? O Yes Sir!

Let’s consider something for a moment:

What do I want to be teaching my children? Do I want to teach them that it is my job to cater to their every whim and provide for them whatever their little fists demand from me?

Or

Is it my job to teach my children that the world does NOT revolve around their little conceited hearts and there are bigger problems in this world than whether or not they eat peanut butter for lunch. Maybe I can remind them of our little girl we adopted through compassion, Miriam Da. Such a sweet little slip of a girl from Burkina Faso. I doubt she has the audacity to complain to her parents about what she gets to eat for lunch each day. I have a feeling she is happy to have something to eat, and a home to eat it in.

I don’t know exactly what I will do about our lunch for tomorrow. But I do know I want to teach my kids to be thankful for what we have been given. We don’t have much by way of the world’s standards. I feel so rich at times. Sometimes it is because we have been given some amazing gifts. Sometimes it is because we have found some amazing deals. But I am sitting in a cozy house on a lovely couch I didn’t buy, typing on a computer that was given to me and seeing a living room where only one piece of furniture was purchased by me.

God has provided for our family in some pretty amazing ways and I am so thankful for the abundant riches he has poured out on our family. I want to be teaching my kids to trust that God will take care of them, and to be thankful for how he chooses to take care of them. Even if it means they eat salad for lunch instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Luke 6-38

 

How is your week going? Is this the beginning or end of your grocery money? What are you doing to make it stretch to the end and not spend money you didn’t budget? Share with me and let me know how things are going.

 

Welcome to Our Frugal Life

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I am feeling like I can get a bit of fresh air! I needed to change the home of this site. I think we will all be more comfortable here.

I want to say I am sorry for the quick change in location from Our Frugal Life over at blogger. I was constantly having trouble with the blogger platform, and it was becoming a big frustration. I prefer WordPress so here we are. I don’t expect I will be moving again any time soon.