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Try these budget-stretching all-stars

By Staff | Nov 7, 2013

Rice and Beans!

Have you ever had beans and rice at a Mexican restaurant? Rice and beans often are paired together on menus because they form a “complete protein” with all the amino acids (protein building blocks) your body needs for good nutrition.

Save Some Money

Beans and rice are a nutritious “team” that can help you stretch your budget. Add beans to soup, chili or side dishes. You can save even more money by starting with dry beans and soaking them. For example, a 1-cup serving of rice and beans would cost about 12 cents if you soak the beans.

cup canned pinto beans 19 cents

cup cooked pinto beans (starting with dry beans) 7 cents

cup cooked white rice 5 cents

5 steps to soaking and cooking dry beans

1. Inspect the dry beans, removing any broken beans or small stones.

2. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water.

3. Use the preferred “hot soak” method: Add 10 cups of cold water to a large pot (4 quarts or more) for each pound (2 cups) of beans prepared. Bring the water to a boil and boil for about three minutes. Cover the pot and let stand for about four hours.

4. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.

5. Add fresh, cold water to fully cover the soaked beans, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, if you wish. Adding oil prevents foaming and boiling over. Simmer the beans until they are tender.

2 cups of dry beans = 4 cups of cooked beans

Cut sodium with this simple tip:

Canned beans (such as kidney or pinto) are convenient options, but they often contain added salt. Most people have too much salt (sodium) in their diet, and that puts them at higher risk for heart disease. If you prefer to use canned beans, be sure to drain the liquid and rinse the beans in a colander. This easy step can rinse away about 40 percent of the sodium. Look for reduced-sodium varieties, too.

Mexican skillet rice

1 pound lean ground beef*

1 medium onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

tsp. salt (optional)

3 c. cooked brown or white rice

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed**

2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chili peppers (do not drain)

1 medium fresh tomato, chopped

Prepare rice according to the directions on the package. One cup of uncooked rice will yield about 3 cups of cooked rice. If you prepare the rice the day before, be sure to keep cooked rice refrigerated.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook meat until brown, stirring to crumble; drain grease.

*Note: You can use 2 cups of leftover cooked turkey or chicken in place of the ground beef.

Add onion, chili powder, cumin and salt; cook until onion is tender. Stir in rice, beans and chili peppers; heat thoroughly.

*Note: You can substitute 1 cups of soaked, cooked dry beans for the canned beans. Top with diced tomato and serve immediately.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 313 calories, 9 grams (g) of fat, 43 g of carbohydrate, 17 g of protein, 6 g of fiber and 340 milligrams of sodium.

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