Meatless Meals Save Money
Adding a few vegetarian dinners into your weekly meal plan is a great way to reduce food costs. I’ve found many delicious meatless options that are healthy and cheap. Bonus – they are excellent to eat the next day for lunch. Today, I’m making vegetarian burrito bowls and, with a little planning ahead, they are so easy to make. Crockpot, you are my favorite kitchen appliance! I use this little one, a real bargain at $9. It’s much more energy-efficient than my gas range and I don’t have to babysit the pot!
Easy Planning Ahead
I live in Boulder, at an elevation of 5430 feet above sea level. This can provide some cooking challenges, such as with dried beans. I’ve found a crockpot provides the best way to cook dried beans in my location. If I know I’m going to need beans for a recipe, I’ll either start them in the crockpot the night before or early in the morning the day of. Cooking beans on high for at least 8 hours works nicely without the need to pre-soak them. I just sort, rinse and throw them in with plenty of water. It’s important to avoid adding salt or anything acidic, such as tomato or vinegar, until at least half way through cooking. Doing so can delay cooking time, or worse, keep the beans hard until the end of time. No Bueno!
Dried Beans And Rice Are Cheap Eats!
I think black beans work really well in this burrito bowl recipe, so I started them early this morning. They’ll be ready to go by the time I need them. I bought the beans on sale at 69 cents per pound a couple of months ago. Black beans are full of protein, fiber and beneficial nutrients. You can check out the nutritional data here.
I also bought the rice on sale. Several times a year, Sprouts sells bulk brown and white rice at 2 pounds for $1.00. I stock up during these sales so that I never have to pay full price. Doing this means I’ll always have cheap and healthy options on hand.
So far, the main ingredients are coming in super cheap. There is no way I’m making a whole pound of white rice. I’ll probable make half a pound, which puts its cost at 25 cents y’all! I will make a pound of beans so that there are plenty of leftovers. So far, the main ingredients for this meal are under $1.00. For 5 people, that’s a super frugal meal.
I always plan my meals by what’s on sale and what I’ve already got. This week, I bought tomatoes, cilantro, onions and cheddar cheese on sale too (at Sprouts). These are some tasty, cheap eats! In no way will I feel deprived eating at home tonight! And, the kids love it too.
I’ve admitted to having a problem with going a little crazy on how much I buy in the bulk food department. The cheap prices get me and I- can’t- help- myself. Don’t worry, since going through my pantry recently, I’ve given myself an intervention and implemented a freeze on buying bulk items for now. Trust me, I have enough to go for…a
month, err, a year.
All of this brings me to my love of beans. Beans are seriously the perfect food ever. The variety and color are amazing, the price can’t get any better, and the nutrition is crazy good. There are so many ways you can use beans in your cooking. If you don’t have beans as a part of your weekly meal plan – Add Them Now! Furthermore, have you ever grown beans in your garden? They are probably one of the prettiest plants in the garden. Their heart-shaped leaves, bee-enticing flowers and ease of growing makes them a must. I put them in pots on my partially shaded deck and they do wonderfully. And, I would like to point out I’m not alone in my bean obsession. Check out Rancho Gordo if you don’t believe me!
The Best Found Recipes
I don’t usually buy cook books because there’s an endless supply of resources online. However, there are a few exceptions. I bought a tiny Mexican cookbook on a bookstore clearance rack for $5 over ten years ago. The dog-eared and food-splattered pages are a testament to how much I’ve used it. Every recipe I’ve tried from it has been really good. I looked it up on Amazon to see if it could still be purchased, and it can, for really cheap! Check it out – it’s a great find!
I mention this book because that’s where I got the base recipe for Green Rice that I’ll be using for the burrito bowls tonight. Green rice is flavorful and easy. I’ve made it many times, but have altered the original recipe. What you’ll find below is my version, which I think is even better! The paste you add to the rice is made from cilantro, peppers, garlic and onion. Since you grind all the vegetables up in a food processor, you can get more mileage out of the cilantro by using the stems. The tender stems, usually thrown away, have just as much flavor as the leaves. I add them to salsa or other recipes that call for grinding up the vegetables. Try it before you pitch it! Why not use the whole plant?
As for the burrito bowl recipe, it’s kind of a concoction of your own design. I cook the black beans, make the green rice and then add the toppings that we enjoy. We like all the things: tomato, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. I’ll add the rice recipe below and you can do as you like with the rest!
You can’t go wrong with this one. Dinner and leftovers will be equally amazing! Let me know how you liked it.
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