A few recent expenses and a desire to get rid of debt has led me back on the path of increasing my time spent meal-planning and finding cheap (but healthy) meals for the family. It is not easy to feed 4 hungry boys, let me tell you. Earlier this week I shopped my pantry and found a big bag of dried kidney beans. I soaked overnight and threw them in the crockpot the next morning before work, planning a dinner of beans and cilantro rice. I was a bit skeptical over how it would be received, to be honest. No meat, and just beans. And rice, of coarse.
After the beans cooked on low for a good 9 hours, I finished them for 1 more hour on high, then transferred the majority over to a skillet where I heated them with some canola oil, garlic, pepper and and onion. After they were a bit mashed and bruised-looking, they were ready. We ate them with heaping plates of warm tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro rice. Yum.
However, a few days later I was at a loss over what to do with the remaining beans. I had already made chili recently, and having more beans and rice probably wouldn’t cut it. Instead I put the beans (about 4 cups or so worth) into the bottom of my cast iron pot. I added about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of water, and a package of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix while heating it a bit on the stovetop, then added 1 package of beef sausages on top*, lidded it and put it in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
We went to pick up the kids at the mall and run a few errands, and by the time we got home the house smelled delicious. The sausages were plump and tasty, the beans were delicious. We had baked potatoes on the side (made earlier in the crockpot). I love it. Tonight, with all the running around we did, could have very easily spent $30-plus a night of pizza, burgers or take-out because of poor planning. But a little bit of thinking had me using up some beans I would have possibly tossed out, and putting a meal on the table for much less than one that was store bought.