All I have to say is…you go girl! Listen to her story…
Several months ago my husband and I were looking at our finances and decided we needed to make some major changes if we were going to attack our student loan debt. Since I have chosen to be a stay-at-home mom I felt that I could best contribute by cutting our food and household expenses so I started following couponing blogs and eventually cut our grocery budget to $200 a month for our family of five.
If you are a Dave Ramsey listener, you know he challenges people to “live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else,” be willing to “be weird,” and to eat “beans and rice, rice and beans.”At the beginning of this year I decided to challenge myself to not only prepare our meals based on the $200-a-month budget, but to also prepare something with beans or rice EVERY DAY for a year. I felt we needed the daily accountability to help us remember that right now we are living “like no one else so later we can live like no one else.”
Honestly, the beans and rice challenge has been a bit more difficult than I expected. I was really excited and the beginning and didn’t think it would be too hard since there are lots of varieties of beans and rice, but after a few weeks I hit a plateau and had to force myself to keep going. My sweet family has never complained, but after two months I could tell they were also tired of beans and rice.
Day 54 was a break-through day for me. I was writing a guest post on lentils and was experimenting with them a bit as I wrote my article. I didn’t realize that unlike dried beans, lentils have a fairly quick cooking time, and so I cooked my pot of dried lentils WAY too long and they were practically mush. I was ready to throw the whole pot away and start fresh…then I had an idea.
Several recipes back I had made black bean brownies which sound gross, but are actually a moist, fudgy brownie made with black bean puree instead of eggs and oil. The pot of mushy lentils reminded me of the bean puree so I decided to do a bit more experimenting and came up with an apple-cinnamon muffin and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie which both featured lentil puree. The best thing about these recipes? No one had a clue they had beans or lentils in them!
Since the mushed lentil incident I’ve come up with several ways to sneak beans or rice into some of our favorite meals. Sneaking them in helps me stick to my beans and rice challenge, helps stretch the meat by adding an additional protein or grain, and adds fiber to our diets.
French Toast Casserole is an example of a meal I came up with after buying some marked-down bread. We loved the results and no one had a clue it featured mashed white beans. Of course you could leave the beans out, but the puree aids in binding the bread chunks together as well as adding fiber to make the dish more filling.
French Toast Casserole with White Beans
Yield – 4 servings
Preparation Time – 10 minutes
Cooking Time – 45 minutes
- 1 loaf bread ($0.39)
- 6 eggs, beaten ($0.63)
- 1 cup milk ($0.18)
- 2 tsp. vanilla ($0.10) (or use homemade vanilla extract!)
- 2 tsp. cinnamon ($0.05)
- ½ cup canned white beans, rinsed and pureed, ($0.20)
- Fresh blueberries and strawberries (more Manager’s Specials–$2)
- Tear up bread slices into bite size chunks. Place in a well-greased 9×13 casserole dish.
- In a bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over bread chunks and let bread soak up the liquid.
- Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
- Serve with favorite French Toast toppings (syrup, jam, cinnamon sugar, etc.).
Pam is an over-commited wife and mom of three who attempts to keep life creative everyday as she cooks, cleans, homeschools, scrapbooks, blogs, coupons, and…
What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate rice, beans or lentils into your diet? Have any recipes that you can share with us???