As food prices have gone up and my food budget has shrunk, I have really had to get good at making cheap meals. I'm actually really enjoying the challenge of coming up with more and more ways to stretch my food money and still feed my family well. Here is an example of what I'm doing this week:
Pinto Beans and Rice:
Do you think it sounds boring? It's not! My entire family loved it. It's frugal, healthy, and tastes really good.
Here is what I did: early in the morning, I put 3 cups pinto beans (no need to soak), 1 chopped onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 9 cups hot water in the crock pot. I cooked this on high for 8 hours. Then I poured it all into a colander to drain the liquid off, and stirred in 1-1/2 tsp. salt.
Next I cooked 2 cups of white rice (you could used white out or brown; I alternate for variety) in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. Then I let it set for five minutes, and sprayed a 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray while I waited. I fluffed the rice with a fork, then spread it into the pan. Next I poured the beans over the top of the rice and spread them evenly, and topped with cheddar cheese...
I'm certain you could serve this at this point, but I had to leave the house for a couple of hours, so I covered it with foil and put it in the oven at 250 degrees. When I got home, it was perfect...piping hot and ready to eat! We topped ours with some salsa and a dollop of sour cream, and served it with a side of cornbread.
The beauty of this recipe is--while it is already super frugal--it gets even better! We only ate about half of this, as it was super hearty. So with the rest of it, I'm going to fill tortillas to make burritos. I love it when I can get two meals from one dish, especially one that already cost hardly anything to make!
Awhile back, I asked for cheap ideas for bulking up meals to fill the hungry tummies of growing kids. I will be posting all the wonderful feedback sometime this weekend!