When the funds in your grocery account are running low, rice and beans are the way to go. The dinner staples are a classic for a reason: Beans and rice are cheap and easy, and they’ll fill you up without breaking your bank. What’s more, if prepared correctly, beans and rice can prove quite nutritious, as the protein and fiber from the beans paired with the fiber and vitamins from the rice help yield a match made in health heaven. Check out these seven recipes that help you make your favorite cheap meal at home and prepare to look forward to the budget-friendly dish.
1. Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice
Our first recipe comes from A Couple Cooks, and it yields a vegetarian red beans and rice dish that makes up for in flavor what it lacks in meat. This dish works for those who are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, and while its ingredients list looks long, it really is only made up of veggies, legumes, and a handful of Cajun spices. You can mix and match these spices as you wish, and also improvise with your spice drawer. As long as you go for brown rice rather than white and cook up some red kidney beans, you can’t go wrong with this dish that is both waistline and wallet-friendly.
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 stalks celery
- ½ green pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans (3 cups cooked)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, to garnish
- Hot sauce, to garnish
See the recipe directions at A Couple Cooks.
2. Spicy Red Beans and Rice
For a more spicy red beans and rice dish, try this recipe from Taste of Home. Thanks to two types of pepper and some hot pepper sauce, this dish has a nice kick and will definitely make you sweat. Adjust the heat level of this dish to however you wish and wash this flavorful meal down with some milk.
- 1 pound dry red kidney beans
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 quart water
- 1 large smoked ham hock
- 2 to 2 teaspoons salt
- 1½ cups chopped celery
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- Cooked rice
See the recipe directions at Taste of Home.
3. Caribbean Rice and Beans
This recipe from African Bites is unique in that it calls for coconut milk, in addition to creole spice, hot pepper sauce, onions, garlic, and thyme. The coconut milk and creole spice combination lends itself to a deep flavor and the hot pepper helps amp up the heat. This Caribbean rice and beans dish is a fun twist on the traditional cheap and easy meal.
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons creole spice
- 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 small bay leaves
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 3¼ cups chicken broth or water
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 teaspoons paprika
See the recipe directions at African Bites.
4. Easy Black Beans and Rice
If you prefer black beans to red kidney beans, give this recipe from Simply Recipes a try. As this dish’s name suggests, black beans are the star ingredient in the meal, along with white rice. If you want to turn things up a notch, you can soak your black beans overnight, but you can also just enlist the canned variety if you’re short on money and time. Add some chopped veggies to your dish and you have a satiating supper on your hands that is delicious and nutritious.
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 (16-ounce) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- A few dashes of Tabasco or ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
See the recipe directions at Simply Recipes.
5. Mexican Tomato Rice and Beans
It’s time to bring some tomatoes into the mix. Follow this recipe for some Mexican flavor from Fine Cooking and make yourself Mexican tomato rice and beans for dinner. The recipe serves 6 to 8 and takes only minutes to make, meaning you’ll have lunch and dinner leftovers for days. Everyone loves Mexican food, and via this formula, you can have it on the cheap.
- 1 cup uncooked medium-grain white rice
- 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium fresh jalapeño, cored and finely chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh oregano leaves and tender stems
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
See the recipe directions at Fine Cooking.
6. Middle Eastern Rice with Black Beans and Chickpeas
If you want even more beans for your buck, try this formula found on AllRecipes.com for Middle Eastern rice with black beans and chickpeas (or garbanzo beans). Like black beans, chickpeas are not only cheap, they’re also chock-full of protein and fiber. What’s more, when combined with rice and black beans, chickpeas play a critical role in this filling Middle Eastern dish. If you need to take your beans and rice dinner up a notch, toss in some chickpeas and enjoy even more nutritional benefits.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1½ pounds ground turkey
- 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
See the recipe directions at AllRecipes.
7. Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
Our last recipe is one you can whip up in the slow cooker, cutting away all of the cooking work you weren’t really doing anyway. Follow this formula from Southern Living and get ready to turn on your crockpot. Engaging Cajun flavors, this dish is anything but bland, and the recipe’s eight ingredients simply cook in the crockpot for seven hours before it’s dinner time.
- 1 pound dried red beans
- 7 cups water
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ pound andouille sausage, sliced
- 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning
- Hot cooked rice
- Garnish: sliced green onions
See the recipe directions at Southern Living.