Pinto Beans Make for Good Cheap Eats

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Beans are a great asset to the frugal kitchen. Keep several pounds on hand for a cheap protein.

Believe it or not, I credit the humble bean with helping us get out of debt. Back in 2007, we realized that we had made some less than stellar financial choices.

We decided to get our act together. We stopped using credit cards. We began to pay off our debts (credit cards, home equity loan, car loans).

And we ate a lot of beans.

Not only are a beans a frugal food, but they are also a great way to increase fiber and protein in your diet. Dried beans are great to keep on hand since they are shelf stable. They suit a pantry challenge perfectly. I typically cook pinto beans in bulk and store them in the freezer for easy meals.

Here are some of our favorite ways with beans:

Bean Tostadas

Beans and Rice with Toppings

Jalapeno Chili

Bean and Rice Soup

Obviously, we do beans with a south of the border type of flair.

How do YOU enjoy beans?

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  1. as soup with just water or cream, just beans or veggie soup or other soups,refried, over rice,with pasta (Fiocchi d’amore con sedano e fagioli is an example)as a ragu, stew,veggie pattie, stuffing inside of squash, pureed into a sauce and served over rice, polenta, mush, fried mush, potatoes, gnocchi,risotto, etc.Cold in to a salad like taco salad or a chef salad or 3 beans salad, in an antipasti salad. Baked as in pork and beans, Boston baked beans, chuckwagon beans,beanie weanies…

  2. When I was in college and our eldest daughter was a baby, we were living on one income. We ate a lot of beans then, too.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Well, I just made pinto beans last night – I mainly use pinto beans as ‘refried’ beans (which are just mashed with some mexican spices – nothing fancy). We had those with homemade corn tortillas and brown spanish rice (from scratch).

  4. We haven’t had beans since I cooked a ham in the fall. I need to add that to the list next week.
    We had crock pot chicken tonight. Someone else brought us a meal tonight- Chicken Alfredo, so we will be eating it tomorrow night since I already had the chicken cooking. My son is asking for venison (he shot the deer) so I am going to cook it in the crock pot all day Saturday.
    I’m still with ya’ on this pantry/freezer challenge.

  5. My mom made beans last night with bacon and onion…. she mixed pinto, red and white with some chicken broth…YUMMY and we had leftovers to freeze… We are doing our first freezer meal session on Saturday, we bought your cookbook and I am excited for all the interesting reeipes that we are going to try..

  6. I have done several mini to medium sized cooking sessions using recipes from the cookbook. We have LOVED everything from it. Tonight, as a matter of fact, we had the chicken bacon sub. It was awesome!!!! I am going to make the ham and salami sandwiches in the morning. I made the mix and match muffins totally this morning and a mix for the freezer (including a freezer baggie of mashed up bananas). Thank you for this cookbook….I recommend it for anyone who is wanting to learn how to save time and money in the kitchen….especially if you have kids in sporting events and the never ending practices, it has saved us a lot of $$ by not hitting McDonalds on those nights.

  7. We use a wide variety of dried beans at our house including: pinto beans and ham served with Johnny cakes; red beans and rice with Andouille sausage; black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck; baked beans are served at every picnic and cookout; chili with red beans; navy beans for Senate soup; and my favorite 14-bean soup simmered with a soup bone.

  8. I must say we have fallen in love with your lasagne with the cream cheese from your cookbook.

    Beans. Love them. Eat them daily. It’s my main source of carbohydrate. I have a bunch in the freezer right now. My family loves when I throw taco soup in the cp (I use the recipe from flylady with a few alterations) with the beans and leftover taco meat I have in the freezer.

    Yesterday I had a horrible day at work. DH took me out to dinner. Tonight we were taken out to dinner. My grocery bill is still holding at $202 for the month but I’ll buy some milk and eggs and a few fruit/veggies this weekend (I get my AH basket next Tuesday). Oh, and Von’s has half chicken breasts for 99cents a lb. I don’t really need them but that is a stock up price so I’ll be buying some for the freezer.

    I’m so ready for the long weekend!

  9. My bean meal list could go on and on. My husband loves it when I make refried beans and Navajo fry bread for Navajo tacos. We eat Dominican beans and rice (arroz con habichuelas), which is my personal favorite. We eat bean soups, red beans and rice (Louisiana style for my favorite Southerner), white beans and rice, and chili. I’ve also made a bean enchilada cake by layering tortillas, refried beans, cheese, and salsa in a cake pan. So good! Next week I’m going to try my hand at an Italian soup featuring the humble pinto bean. All that said, we certainly don’t eat beans as much as it sounds like we do. But, expenses are going up faster then our income (growing family, you know), so my meal plans will feature more and more occasions to use these recipes.

  10. I love any kind of bean,(except kidney beans) and mostly any kind of way.. Im not into 3 bean salad type thing but other than that.. I love beans. I keep them on hand and in the freezer too. M’honey doesnt care for them as much as I do but he’ll eat whats placed in front of him gotta appreciate that! 😉

  11. Do you ever get freezerburn on your beans? I love to make big batches and freeze them but inevitably at least one container gets gross tasting with a layer of ice. Any suggestions for minimizing that?


  12. We love Bean Sausage and Pinto Bean Pie after that there is no turning back. I was pleased how great the beans taste in so many different recipes. I had been wanting to cut out a lot of pork in our diet and could not afford the pecans to make a pie so desperation helped me find these two.

  13. Any ideas on how to like beans? I did not grow up eating them, and I have trouble with the texture. I can do a few in chicken tortilla soup or the occasional layered taco dip at a party, but that’s probably refried and not good for me. I’d love to introduce my kids to them, even though it may be too late, as they are 11 and 13. Just simply trying and trying doesn’t work. Thoughts?

    • @Holly,
      I understand trying to get used to new foods….one of the easiest ways to begin with beans is definitely with Tex-Mex recipes, because there are usually fun toppings and “comforting” ingredients like sourcream, salsas, and tortilla chips. Refried beans homemade can be very healthy and so easy! I just cook pinto beans that have soaked overnight, in my crockpot all day. Usually with some diced onion, garlic, and at the end some salt. Sometimes I add a bit of bacon, which adds the yummiest flavor but brings in some fat too. 🙂 Once beans are done, just scoop some out into a greased skillet over low heat and start mashing. 🙂 Refried recipes are nice to introduce to your family, try Jessica’s Tostadas and Beans & Rice recipes above, or try Mexican Pizzas (like Taco B.), or a fun Dinner dip to serve with chips. Good luck! 🙂

    • @Holly, yes, you can make seasoned mashed beans that are like refried without the extra fat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil if you want a little more flavor. Acmommy offers some great advice. I’d start doing beans as a side dish with tacos and then work your way to chili or rice and beans.

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