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Many regular readers of The Finance Coach newsletters also listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio program. One doesn’t have to listen very long before hearing Mr. Ramsey share his “beans and rice” philosophy, the idea of living lean while gaining financial ground.

In many parts of the world beans and rice are a staple food because of the wide availability of the ingredients and the extremely high nutritional value. Rice contains iron, vitamin B and protein as well as starch, which gives energy. Beans are high in amino acids and protein. When combined, the two contain all the essential amino acids and create a complete protein. While these ingredients pack a powerful nutritional punch on the cheap, this dish isn’t exactly fancy or an often seen fare on American tables.

When I began investigating ways to stretch my food dollars, rice and beans quickly rose to the surface. But I had no idea how to prepare beans and wasn’t exactly a rice expert either. So after several experimental pots of both items, I have a pretty good idea of how to prep both. When done correctly rice and beans can be quite tasty and can be the starter ingredients for several other quick and easy meals.

Start with the beans

Dried beans are much cheaper than canned and require advance planning. Popular types of beans are kidney, black, pinto and black eye peas. One pound of dried beans makes about 12-14 servings of cooked beans, or about four cans of beans.

Start by sorting through the beans and removing any small stones, grit or shriveled beans. An easy method is to pour the beans out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then, rinse the beans in a colander to remove any dust and dirt.

Next, soak the beans in one of two ways. The traditional method is to place beans in a large pot, cover with water by at least 5 inches and leave overnight. The quick-soak method is to place the beans in a pot of water, bring it to a boil. Boil for at least a couple minutes then remove from heat, cover and allow to soak for one hour or more. Drain beans and add fresh water to the pot to ¾ full. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 hours, until tender. Beans can also be cooked in a crock pot for 6-8 hours.

Season beans with salt, pepper and/or hot sauce as desired after cooking. Beans can be divided into smaller servings and frozen in air-tight containers.

Now for the rice

Start with good quality rice. (I prefer jasmine rice for its flavor and texture as well as the wonderful aroma.)

Again, rinse the rice in water to remove excess starch. Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir the rice into the boiling water and return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook without lifting lid for 16 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Brown or basmati rice can be cooked using the same method by increasing the water to 2 ¼ cups water and increasing cooking time to 30-40 minutes.

Finally, combine beans and rice on a plate. You may spice things up a bit by adding shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa or lettuce.

Like beans, rice can also be prepared in larger quantities and frozen in smaller batches.

Here are a few more ways to use rice and beans that are worth trying:

  • Mix rice, beans and cheese together then fill tortilla shells for great burritos.
  • Add a large spoonful of both the rice and the beans to canned vegetable soup for a quick minestrone rice soup.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and cheese. (Skip the rice. That would be redundant.)
  • Top tortilla chips with slightly mashed beans and all the traditional taco toppings for an inexpensive nacho platter.

Options are endless with these starter ingredients. I’d love to hear from you with your top recipes and uses for rice and beans. You can contact me at

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