I sat down to write about my favorite cheap food, and ended up reading all sorts of other pf blogs. Before I knew it, I’d been clicking from one to another for well over an hour. Wow, time flies when I’m reading lots of stuff from people who think like I do. I just discovered the Under 30 Honor Roll and was amazed that so many of the pf bloggers are in their 20s. Sometimes it seems that everyone – especially the 20 somethings – has lost their minds when it comes to money. So it’s nice to see so many sites authored by young people and dedicated to financial competence.
I’m making rice and beans for dinner today. That’s my all time favorite cheap food (rice and lentil curry is another favorite, but not quite as cheap). I spent two years in East Africa with the Peace Corps after college. If I had not been a fan of rice and beans, I would have starved. Seriously. I ate rice and beans or ugali (stiff corn porridge) and beans for lunch and dinner about five days out of every week. We’d have spinach or avocado on the side, but the main dish always included beans. I didn’t have a clue how to cook when I first went to Africa. I had lived on sandwiches in college, and basically learned to cook over a coal fire with the help of the friendly villagers who lived near me. Once I came back to the US, I had a great appreciation for things like electric stoves and sinks with faucets. And rice and beans.
My mother-in-law gave me a big crock pot for Christmas last year. I buy pinto beans at Costco in 10 pound bags for about $5. I soak a few cups of beans overnight, and then cook them in the crock pot on all day. I saute a bunch of onions, garlic, and chopped tomatoes, and then add the cooked beans – just like I learned in Africa. I make a huge pot of brown rice, some sort of green side dish, and dinner is served. This is usually enough food to last 4 or 5 meals. And it costs about $7 total, including the rice, beans, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Not a bad deal. And since we have tons of rice leftover, I can make other dishes during the week that need rice. I love brown rice, but it takes so long to cook that I always make a bunch at a time.
Another bonus – brown rice and beans is good for you. It sure beats ramen noodles in the health department.