Dinner Diva: Dinner on a dime


Are you looking to stretch those grocery dollars? Let me show you how to spice up and season that lowly beans and rice dish so you can enjoy several different ethnic (styled) dishes. And FYI, these are representations of this type of cooking, not the actual authentic versions, so don’t be hatin’!

First off, cook up a batch o’ beans. Use something like white beans, pintos, red beans or even black beans. Doesn’t matter; we’re going to use them up a bunch of ways. Secondly, make your rice. Needs to be whole brown rice. I prefer long grain brown rice, some people like a short grain rice. Just make sure it’s brown rice so you get the nutrition! How do you cook beans and rice? Look on the back of the packages to each of them…you’ll get all the info you need. The important part is getting them cooked.

Okay, you’ve got a big batch o’ beans and a big batch o’ rice cooked, right? Now let’s look at all the possibilities:

  • Mexican-Style Beans and Rice
  • Jamaican-Style Beans and Rice
  • New Orleans-Style Beans and Rice
  • Southern-Style Greens, Beans and Rice
  • Indian-Style Beans and Rice

For ease of accomplishment, these “recipes” are servings for ONE. Multiply as needed. One serving equals 1 cup rice, 1 cup beans. You can bag these beans up in freezer quality bags and freeze in serving sizes (either individually or enough to serve your family) if you want. You can do the same thing with the rice. Once you have all those beans and rice packages, here’s what you can do when you thaw them out. Remember, these are servings for ONE…multiply them out as needed to serve your family:

Mexican-Style Beans and Rice: Serve the rice and beans plain with salsa, sour cream, grated cheese over the top and a quesadilla on the side.

Jamaican-Style Beans and Rice: In a saucepan over a medium heat, add beans, add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, a pinch of thyme, a clove of crushed garlic and heat through till warm and bubbly. Serve over rice with chopped green onions on top.

New Orleans-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and saute 1/4 cup each: onion, green bell pepper and celery. Add 1 clove crushed garlic, 1/8 teaspoon thyme. Mix this into the beans and serve with a bottle of Tabasco or other hot sauce.

Southern-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion, then add 1 cup chopped frozen greens. Add 1 clove crushed garlic, a pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth. Add 1/2 cup beans and simmer till greens are tender. Serve over rice.

Indian-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped tomato and cook till tender. Add 1 clove crushed garlic, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon curry powder. Add the beans and simmer for five minutes. Serve over rice with chopped cilantro on top.

There you go…how’s that for Easy Button easy! Enjoy!

Leanne Ely is a NYT bestselling author and the creator of SavingDinner.com, the original menu planning website, bringing families back to the dinner table for over 15 years.



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