Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rice and Beans for Lunch

This is a splendid discipline my husband has happily adopted. His BFF (Best Friend Forever) lives in Arizona. This friend likes to cook frugally, too. He told my husband about making a big crock-pot sized batch of rice and beans and placing them in serving-size containers to freeze and reheat as easy and inexpensive lunches.

I used to poke fun at the idea as there seems to be a learning curve* on cooking dried beans, as my husband insists upon doing. He has a point; they are cheaper and HEALTHIER. I used to think rinsing canned beans got most of the salt off, but in actuality, I understand it only removes about 11%. So we soak and cook our own beans whenever possible.

To make your own rice and beans:

~Rinse the beans.
~Soak them in water overnight.
~Cook them in the crock pot on low for several hours (try 4-5 hours, check for tenderness).
~Cook a large pot of long-grain rice. Try about 3-4 cups.
~Mix the rice and beans with about a cup of salsa, a can of tomato sauce, garlic, sauteed onion, peppers, taco seasoning, black pepper, fresh cilantro, etc...
~Sprinkle with grated cheese, if desired.

They're actually really good, if you give it a chance. Healthy. Sure, there's some salt from the salsa or tomato sauce, but WAY less than a salami or turkey sandwich. Healthier. Less expensive. Sure, it takes time (and freezer space, if you do the mass quantities we do) but it's worth it!

*Learning curve: I say this because the first few batches of beans were either undercooked and crunchy...ewww...or overcooked and mushy. So don't give up if the first batch turns out less perfect than anticipated.

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