Good. Cheap. Eat: Beans and Rice

Beans and rice are a good cheap eat, especially when you top it with chips, salsa, and some other goodies. It’s a filling meal to help you save money.

Beans and Rice

We eat beans and rice at least once a week for dinner. Sometimes they are side dishes, but usually they make the bulk of the meal. I make my own pintos as well as “from scratch” Mexican rice. We’ve found that the taste is better than the canned and boxed varieties, and generally the homemade version is less expensive as well.

During very lean times, we might have just beans and rice and perhaps a little cheese. But when we can, we dude them up with toppings. I make my own salsa because it’s very inexpensive. I buy the other items on sale whenever possible. Since I’m a salad girl, I tend to pile on the veggies. Yes, there really is rice and beans under all that. Quite a bit actually.

Check out the price breakdown for the year 2009:
beans – $1
Mexican rice – $0.75
shredded cheese – $1
shredded lettuce – $0.25
homemade salsa – $0.50
tomatoes – $0.25
tortilla chips – $1

Total cost to feed a crowd: $4.75

Here’s our very forgiving recipe for beans and rice:

good cheap eats coverMy cookbook Good Cheap Eats is filled with recipes that can be made with regular pantry staples. It will more than pay for itself in giving you direction to making dinner homemade — and affordable.

Your purchase helps support this site. Thanks so much!

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Jessica,
    I hope you see this message, since it is on an older post of yours. I am very intrigued by this “recipe.” I’m curious about a couple things: Do you know if brown rice would work as well in your mexican rice? It takes twice as long to cook of course, but surely it would still cook the same? Of course, it’s not authentic “mexican” but it is healthier anyway. 🙂 Also, do you season the pinto beans at all, or do you just throw them on top of, or mix them into, the rice? Thanks for any help you might have. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, really do enjoy reading your stuff!

    • Yes, I get notifications on all comments. 🙂 I have been using brown rice in this for the past two years. My family doesn’t love it as much. It does take longer to cook, but it is still good. The texture is a little stickier, though.

      As for beans, I season them the way they are in the recipe, but usually not more. With all the toppings, everybody makes his own like he likes it. And yes, it’s a non-recipe, isn’t it?

  2. harmony says:

    Hi! I have to say that I love this website! You have helped me tremendously this week. Before that, I had a nice meal plan for my family, but after so many weeks and months we were getting so tired of eating the same things. I have 4 children and they all have different wants when it comes to food, so it can be frustrating to cook for them. But, they have really liked all of your recipes and ideas that I have implemented. Especially the pizza night and sandwich bar. Those were a huge success for me and now I am going to begin the beans and rice your way. It sounds great to me, as I love mexican food, and they like it too! Thank you so much!

  3. bob taylor says:

    have you tried using a pressure cooker for rice and beans- the pressure cooker has been a great time saver for us, but i understand that having the time to use it depends on on your individual needs. just a suggestion.

  4. Christine says:

    I have adopted your slow cooker pinto beans and Mexican rice as part of our weekly meal plan.Today I had to laugh because something came over me (an episode of America’s Test Kitchen) and I made the Cooks’ Illustrated version of Cuban rice and beans. This one pot meal has taken me, so far, three hours to make, with 30 minutes in the oven to go! Not counting the soaking of the beans overnight. My kids have had about four times their regular amount of Nick Jr. and PBS Kids – this better be good!

    It made me thank God for you and your delicious – and easy to make with three little ones under foot – recipes.

    • Jessica says:

      @Christine, ha! I remember those days of spending way too much time on new recipes. I imagine that those beans were awesome, but CI definitely is time intensive.

  5. We have begun eating beans and rice every Sunday as part of our pantry challenge. Even though January is coming to an end we will continue to eat rice and beans on Sunday. I may have to start being a little more creative though so I look forward to searching your sight for ideas. By the way our pantry challenge was a huge success!

    • @dawn, this is a great meal to add little bits of meat (maybe from other meals) or yummy toppings like salsa, guacamole, fajita vegetables, etc.

  6. I took your idea and it was terrific. I made Mexican Rice, put warmed pinto beans on top, that was delicious by itself. But, then we added lettuce, cheese and salsa. Definitely will be a regular around here. Thanks for the idea.

  7. I really enjoy many of your recipes:). It is a bit embarrassing to say but we are very poor, it’s so nice that you share your recipes for REAL food for people on tight budgets! Thanks again!


  1. […] Beans and Rice – I credit beans and rice with helping us get out of debt so many years ago. We ate it a lot for lunch or dinner. Topping it creatively is what elevates this humble meal and makes it just a little bit more exciting that “beans and rice”. […]

Share Your Thoughts