Growing up with 5 brothers, I can’t even imagine the amount of food my mom had to prepare. Even though I lived there and helped make the meals, I really didn’t pay attention to what really went into the whole process. I do remember we ate a lot of beans and feeling super nerdy bringing bean sandwiches to school when everyone else had McDonalds and dry Ramen noodles. I remember being embarrassed and slightly envious of their meals. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my homemade cookies, fresh fruit and bean (or egg or salmon) sandwiches were way better for me.
I have to say I am slightly concerned about our food budget when my boys become teenagers. Even now they manage to put away a lot of food. I feed them healthy, filling foods, but they are growing. They seem to be taking after their daddy who has a bit of a reputation for the amount of food he can put away.
Living off one income and living in a city that is known for it’s “sunshine tax” it can be hard to make the dollar stretch. Thankfully, my family enjoys eating beans…which is a really good thing. Not only are they good for us and there are benefits to eating beans, they are also easier on the budget. They help stretch the meal and help fill up the bellies.
One of our favourites is refried beans, which I use in many different ways, but at $3.59 a can and at least 2 cans per meal, it adds up fast. I pay $18, for a 5kg bag of dried beans. With a 5kg I can make about 36 cups of refried beans (cooked and mashed). This equals approximately 21 cans of beans. 21 cans @ $3.59 = $75.39!!! Yikes !!! There are a few more costs in there with the green chilies and other ingredients, but it doesn't come anywhere near $75. I save at least $40. That's pretty significant for one food item. Out of that 5kg bag of beans we have enough refried beans for 10 meals.
I knew making bean dishes from dried beans would be beneficial to learn as it could help stretch the budget. I looked for an easy slow cooker recipe for pinto beans to make refried beans. The ones I tried were ok, but they beans were too crunchy at the end of the cook time or didn’t have enough flavour. So I experimented and came up with my own recipe.
Check it out here: **Slow Cooker No Fry “Refried” Beans**
Some of my favourite dishes to use refried beans in are:
Mexi Lasagne-Layers of tortillas, beans and cheese and whatever else you want to add
Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
Rice and Bean Bowls
Scrambled Eggs and Beans
Layered Bean Dip
Chili (add to thicken up)
Black Bean Burgers (added to)
Bean, Rice, Veggie Casserole
Mmmmm…I’m hungry now! My family enjoys this recipe and we always have some on hand in the freezer for when needed.
Super simple, super cheap and super versatile! If you’re looking for ideas to stretch your budget, give this recipe a try.