Rice and Beans
December 14, 2013 11:54 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to start preparing my meals for the workweek in a batch on Sundays, to be refrigerated and microwaved as needed. I'm looking for a specific rice and bean-based recipe (type(s) of bean, optimal ratio of rice to beans, cooking time) that's cheap and nutritionally complete. That is to say, I'd like to be able to eat this for about half of my meals in a week and remain healthy.
posted by phrontist to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Up until just recently I was religiously cooking a batch of beans and rice every Sunday to do almost exactly what you're talking about. My primary motivation was to spend as little as possible and to worry as little as possible about feeding myself while at work throughout the whole week. So long as you've got the attitude that lets you eat the same thing tirelessly, it's hard to beat.

Even though it was more or less the same every single week, there's plenty of room for a little variety.

The bones of the recipe, which for me made about 5-6 servings (I'm not a big guy...), was:

- Two cans of your favorite black beans. (You should definitely try dry beans and see if you prefer that route, but in the end cans were an easy shortcut for me)
- One cup dry brown rice (and whatever water is needed to cook it, which I did separate from the beans)
- Two or three tomatoes
- Half an onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- Salt (gonna need it) and olive oil

For variety I'd almost always include a TON of chopped kale, or green onions, fresh rosemary, the occasional green/red/yellow pepper... There's really no limit. I'd often throw in a 1/4 cup of quinoa and some extra water just because... There's also nothing that says you can't make some really "plain" beans and rice just using spices, smoked paprika, thyme... You're going to have to play with what appeals to you.

For me this really helped weekday spending and cut out the anxiety that comes with an approaching lunch hour and nothing planned. I'm no health expert, but it also seemed to have as good an effect on my general health diet-wise from beginning to end, as anything else I've habitually eaten. I hope that makes sense.

I'm rambling now, but get yourself half a dozen durable glass containers (pyrex?) and you're set for the week with just an hour or so kitchen time on Sunday. Good luck!
posted by Nosmot at 12:30 PM on December 14, 2013 [14 favorites]

I soak 2 cups of beans (pinto) over night and drain. They go in crock pot with different spices, chili powder, maybe enchilada sauce, tomato sauce maybe, kinda wing it. I cook my brown rice in a cheapo rice cooker from wally world. I forgot, the meat when I cook the beans, might be a bit of sausage or salt fork , etc. Combine cooked rice and beans, EAT and freeze the rest...
posted by raildr at 12:34 PM on December 14, 2013

I just learned to always have some beans soaking in the fridge so they are ready to cook. It's been great!

Variety in beans is also helpful to keep things interesting, as are sauces to put on the meals.
posted by mamabear at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I used to cook 2 cups of brown rice, producing 4 cups cooked, which I'd keep in the fridge till used up. Separately I'd cook the same amount of dry beans, kidney or pinto or black. We'd have a beans meal, a rice meal usually with tofu in some form, and then a beans-and-rice meal. Cooking them separately gives you a little more versatility than cooking them in combination.
posted by sevenstars at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did this all through grad school. I highly recommend Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian Cooking -- lots of super delicious bean recipes.
posted by gerstle at 4:08 PM on December 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

I don't have much to add, but I've started doing this lately and it's awesome. This is what I made this week, out of one bag of dried black beans & one bunch of kale + various odds and sods:

*a huge pot of soup (olive oil, black beans, brown rice, kale, cubed red potatoes, green and yellow onion, cilantro, celery flakes, fresh cracked salt & pepper, parsley flakes, chopped carrots, canned diced tomato, turmeric, bit of red pepper flakes, veggie bouillon paste, cooking sherry...i think that's it)

*reserved 2 1-cup portions of black beans to freeze for future meals

*reserved 2-3 cups black beans and 4 leaves of kale for breakfast burritos or breakfast bowls, with scrambled tofu, green onions, etc.

I add variety to the soup-meals by changing sides, salad ingredients, etc.

One tip I've learned is that every time I've sauted something, like for the breakfast burritos, I've deglazed the pan afterward with cooking wine or sherry, and add ~1 cup water to make broth which I add to the soup pot. It adds good flavor to the soup & stretches it a bit longer.

I've been finding a lot of inspiration from vegan blogs, and then using what's on hand + on sale each week. I don't think you need to worry about ratios so much as personal preference...? I stick to 2 c. beans to 1 c. rice. As long as you have both, it's a complete protein, iirc.
posted by cardinality at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Nutritionally the rice isn't very important. You will do a little better with long grain brown rice than unenriched short grain white rice but in either case they are mostly just bulk. I would probably get a large bag of enriched long grain white rice, simply because it will cook quicker than brown rice.

Nutritionally various standard beans are not very different from each other. Black, pinto, great northern, kidney... there isn't a significant difference here. Of those great northern have the most complete profile but no matter which you pick you are going to need to supplement. The cheapest is to use dry beans, soak them overnight and then boil them but you can also used canned (I would drain most of the liquid so it doesn't get too runny).

Adding vegetables is the way to get necessary vitamins and minerals. As others have mentioned, try tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, peas. There are a lot of vegetables that you could chop and/or steam and mix in. Even with these you will need more vitamins D and B12 so you could look into adding eggs, mushrooms, tofu, fish, chicken, etc. depending on what you're into. If these don't work for you in your rice and beans you could also look for these nutrients/foods in your other meals.

Then I would go with a 2:1 ratio of beans to rice like Nosmot, though I would be careful with the amount of salt you add, especially if using canned beans or vegetables.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:28 PM on December 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

You might want to pick up a pack of SooFoo and see how you like it. If you do like it, you might be able to make a similar mix yourself (if you find that is more cost effective).
posted by Dansaman at 7:58 PM on December 14, 2013

My favorite beans and rice meal is a 'refried' bean burrito. What follows is my basic process for making a simple refried beans.

IMHO, the best way to cook dry beans is in a slow cooker. This process provides for the least gassy beans.

Add to slow cooker:
1 pound of rinsed, dried pinto beans
Enough water so there is 1" over the beans.
Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
Drain when done.

Saute 2 large onions, roughly chopped, with salt and 1/4 bulb of garlic. (Or more if you're me!)

Add the onions/garlic to the beans together and then blend/mash them up. Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Add water (not too much at once!) if it is too thick.

You should now have enough refried beans to make well-over a dozen huge burritos. (And the refried beans seems to stay good for quite a long time in the fridge.)
posted by herox at 9:04 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

My own personal favorite is mujaddara.

First, really seriously caramelize some onions. Do it right and cook them until they are good and dark brown. This will take a while, but you can do it once a month with a big bag of onions and freeze what you don't use right away.

Then: heat up a generous amount of olive oil, seriously at least half a cup, in the bottom of a pot. Toss in a teaspoon or two of cumin seeds and cook them for a minute until they get nice and fragrant. Add a cup of dry white rice and cook it (yup, just frying the grains in oil) for a minute or two to get it toasty. Add a cup of lentils, three or four cups of water, three onions' worth of your caramelized onion gunk, a cinnamon stick, and however much salt floats your boat. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, simmer until the lentils have dissolved into delicious lentil-y mush and the rice is tender.

You can do this with brown rice instead of white if you want. It will take longer, and you'll need to add more water, but other than that it's the same process. The lentils turn to mush one way or the other, so don't worry about overcooking them.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:28 PM on December 14, 2013 [14 favorites]

Red rice: fry up a bunch of onions and celery and carrots and garlic and w/e in olive oil, then chuck in a cup or so of unwashed uncooked rice. Fry it a bit longer, then chuck in a can of tomatoes, can of beans, lots of cumin, lots of oregano, chopped chilis or powder. Maybe add a splash of balsamic vinegar or some Worcestershire sauce. Now add a pint of stock, we use vege but I guess anything would do. Gradually simmer that down and you end up with a delicious vege rice dish.

Alternatively, put all the ingredients into a rice cooker and press 'go', should work fine.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:43 AM on December 15, 2013

Best answer: I would recommend to cook up a batch of fairly plain rice and beans (alternating with lentils, I usually just cook half rice/half legumes) and then add different stuff to it every day. I like arugula, spinach or sauteed peppers and zucchini. Add cheese, yoghurt or pesto for some more flavor. Fresh tomatoes, herbs, cashews or other nuts for a bit of a different texture.

Less monotone but involves a bit more work this way. (not what you're looking for based on your tags, but you might get there once eating the same stuff every day becomes less fun).

Alternatively, look up OAMC (once a month cooking) - there are a lot of recipes that can be cooked in large batches and freeze well. Usually, people opt for 5-7 different recipes, shop on day 1, cook all the recipes on day 2 and possibly 3, freeze and eat a different meal every day for a whole month. It does cut down on work, if your laziness tag is the real deal.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:11 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

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