Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crazy Cheap Rice and Beans

It's going to sound crazy, but this week I'm living on food that costs less than $2 a day. My pastor challenged our whole church to do it in order to experience some semblance of what it's like for the 2.5 billion people in the world who live on less than that for all their living expenses, not just food. I've been doing pretty well and haven't been hungry at all, but then again I have a lot invested in knowing how to cook at home! At the very least, I'll be able to donate what I would have spent on food to someone who needs it more than me.

So obviously, rice and beans are staples of anyone looking to eat on the cheap. And even if you aren't attempting a $2 a day challenge, this meal is an awesome way to save serious cash on your daily lunches. It breaks down to $0.62 per portion and has about 400 calories. If you normally spend $10 on lunch out, that's about $47 saved in a week. 47 American dollars, people!!!

Grocery list
  • Dried black beans - 16 oz. (or you could cheat and use 3-4 cans)
  • Frozen corn - 8 oz. (half a 16 oz. bag)
  • Brown rice - 2 cups
  • Onion - 1/2 medium sized
  • Canola oil - 1 tbsp.
  • Salt - 1 tsp.
  • Cumin - 1 tbsp.

Cook the dried beans (or pop open some cans). The easiest method is to soak them overnight, drain, add water to cover by at least an inch, and simmer until they're the right tenderness (about 2 hours). I've heard you should add the salt when they're just starting to feel soft, but I don't think it really matters.

The beans should look a little soupy...either add water to get a consistency you like, or if you're using canned beans, include some of the canning liquid. Dice the onions and sautee them in oil, then just mix in the onions along with the corn and cumin and cook the rice to serve with it!

This is enough for seven meals, but feel free to adjust the quantities if you think you'd get bored with it seven days in a row!

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes (excluding soaking time)
Yield: 7 servings 
To Bring: leak-proof container

Questions about the cooking method? Please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peanut Butter and Date Sandwich

Here's another sandwich that's quick to throw together and a little more "adult" than your standard PB&J. These dates are just as sweet as jelly (if not sweeter!) and pack three grams of fiber per serving. This meal is also super easy to store and assemble at work - neither the peanut butter nor the dates need to be refrigerated and a baguette would last you several days.

If your dates don't come chopped, it's much easier to take 30 seconds to chop the whole container before bringing it in to work. Bonus: chopped dates also make a great, fiber-filled afternoon snack...just try not to eat so many that you get a sugar buzz!

Grocery list
  • Bread
  • Peanut butter - about 2 tbsp. (I used Brad's Organic)
  • Dates - about 4, chopped (I found a container in the dried fruit section of Whole Foods for $3.99)

Slice the bread and spread peanut butter on the bottom layer. Top with chopped dates!

Hands-on time: Less than 5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
To bring: plastic bags or store at work