When we first started dating, my husband cooked beans and rice for me while we were out on a picnic. Over the years, this has become a staple in his lunch box. It is simple to make and inexpensive. This recipe will make 6 man-size lunches, or probably 8-12 family servings. This is a great stand alone meal because it has protein, carbs, veggies, and fat.
This does require some forethought so you can soak the beans overnight. Be sure to soak them with a good splash of vinegar or lemon juice to acidify the water to neutralize phytic acid. Unless they are black beans, then you need to use baking soda instead. I’m not sure why black beans are different, or if other beans also need alkaline conditions rather than acidic. Soak a pound of beans overnight in plenty of water along with the acidic agent. If you are using brown rice, do the same with it. Soak 2 cups of brown rice in plenty of water with two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Soak them in different bowls, though.
The water in this picture is a little cloudy because I took it the next morning rather than when I put them on to soak. I have a great tendency to start making a recipe and then realize it would be a good idea to take photos and make a blog post of it. I also forgot to soak brown rice for this recipe and so you will see white rice in the rest of the pictures. Brown rice is better, but only if you remember to soak it first. Otherwise, white rice is probably better. Although it has none of the vitamins and minerals that brown rice has, it also doesn’t have the phytic acid to bind them up. It is simply nutritionally empty.
The next morning, assemble the rest of your ingredients. Here we have 1) green beans, 2) rice, 3) vinegar, 4) pinto beans, 5) onion, 6) salt, 7) Italian seasoning, 8) butter, 9) broth, and 10) garlic.
Drain and rinse the beans you soaked and bring them to a boil for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer for an hour. This helps make sure the beans are fully cooked. Half cooked beans are no fun to eat.
An hour later
When they are done, drain the cooking water out of the beans and add the rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup Italian seasoning (or you can make up your own seasoning mix for it), and 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder. I have not tried figuring out how much fresh garlic that would be.
Dice the onion and add it on top of everything else. Alternatively, when I have some, I use 2-4 Tablespoons of dried onion. Drying onions in the dehydrator makes the house smell very oniony, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your preferences.
Pour in 7 cups of broth (yes, way more than I showed in the ingredients photo). If you don’t have broth, you can use plain water, but broth makes it yummier. Add in two sticks of butter.
Finally, pour in 2 pounds of frozen green beans. I’m sure fresh green beans would work, too, but I always use frozen. Set the lid on and bring it all to a boil. The frozen beans will form into a solid block if you add the broth after the beans. Stir it all up.
After it reaches a boil, the key thing now is to cook the rice. If you are using brown rice, let it simmer for about 40 minutes. If using white rice, simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Check it a few minutes before the time is up. When you tip the pot, you want the rice to just pull away from the edge without any broth or water puddling up. I did not get a picture of this, sorry. It would require more hands than I had available. The picture I did get is a bit steamy because the pot is still hot.
This is a great pantry meal, as all the ingredients are usually on hand in any well stocked pantry.
- Pinto beans – 2 pound bag – $1.49
- White rice – 2 cups = 1 pound = 1/5 of a bag = $3.99/5 = $0.80
- Brown rice – 1 pound = 1/5 of a bag = $4.89/5 = $0.98
- Vinegar – maybe 1/4 -1/2 cup total at $5.99 for 32 ounces = $0.19 – $0.37
- Green beans – 2 pound bag = $1.88
- Salt – negligible
- Italian seasoning – about 1/4 ounce at $1.13/ounce in the bulk aisle = $0.28
- Onion = 1/5 of a two pound bag = $1.19 = $0.40
- Garlic powder = 0.18 ounces at $0.94/ounce = $0.17
- Butter – 1/2 pound at $2.89/pound = $1.45
- Broth – 6-7 cups. I don’t buy broth, I make it from leftover roast chicken, so I really don’t know how to price it. It wouldn’t be more than pennies, though, and since you could use water instead, I will just consider this free.
Total cost comes to $7.82. You could easily feed 8-10 people with this, bringing the cost to under $1/person.