Classic Rice and Beans for Under $5 | Budget-Friendly Recipes

By Sara


Last Updated: August 9, 2023


2022 was a challenging year in terms of inflation. Grocery prices went up 9.9% in 2022, and this trend does not look like it's ending.

The USDA estimated that food prices will increase by 5.8% in 2023. If you've been to the grocery store lately you have undoubtedly seen the price increases too.

To help combat these high grocery costs, we are bringing you a weekly series on Budget-Friendly Recipes.

These recipes will help you save money without compromising on taste and nutrition.



Budget Friendly Rice and Beans 

To help you save money without compromising on taste or nutrition, we're kicking off our weekly recipe series with a classic staple: Rice and Beans.

This dish is not only affordable, but also packed with protein and fiber, making it a perfect choice for both your wallet and your health.

  • Note: Our cost estimation is based on US prices, but of course, prices will vary wherever you are. Our goal is to help you find ingredients that are generally more affordable!



The ingredients you'll need are simple and can be found at any average grocery store or farmer's market:

  • 1 cup of dry white rice
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • pinch salt and pepper to taste

The total cost of these ingredients comes to around $4.50, and this recipe yields about 4 servings. That's a hearty meal for about $1 per serving!



Rice & Beans Recipe

1. To prepare this dish, start by cooking your rice.

If you have an Instant Pot, this takes about 5 minutes on high pressure with 5 minutes of natural release. If not, you can find cooking instructions on the back of your rice's packaging. 

2. Chop the onion, mince the garlic and dice the bell pepper. 

3. Once your rice is cooked, sauté the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the olive oil on medium heat until they're soft. (You can even start this step while cooking your rice.)

4. Add in the spices and stir until they're well combined. 

5. Next, add the beans and cooked rice to the pan, stirring everything together until it's heated through.


And voila! You've got a delicious, budget-friendly meal ready to serve.

If you're looking to add some extra protein to this meal, you can add chicken to this dish. You can either buy raw chicken and cook it or even a Rotisserie chicken. Rotisserie chickens are about $5, so this would add another dollar per serving. 



Additional Savings & Tips

This recipe can be made even cheaper or more nutritious with these tips. 

Buy-in bulk.

Buying food in bulk can often help you save even more money.

While you may be paying more for bulk rice, for example, because you are buying a few pounds over just a pound, it can lower your cost per serving because the overall price per pound is lower. Rice and beans are both great bulk grocery items to buy and are staples in so many dishes. 


Use what you have.

Recipes are just suggestions on how to make a meal.

They are not the law! Find any leftover veggies or proteins from your fridge that you can add to this meal. This can make it even more filling and nutritious.

It could also help you save some money if you already have something to substitute. 


Meal prep.

Cooking in bulk can help you reduce your costs.

It's easier to buy groceries for one recipe that you eat for a week vs. different ingredients for different recipes each night. This can also lead to food waste.

As soon as you finish cooking, portion out your meal for the day and put the rest in separate containers for each day. This will ensure you have enough food for every day. 



Final Thoughts

Join us next week as we continue to explore more budget-friendly recipes that don't skimp on flavor or nutrition!

Until then, happy cooking and happy saving!

Credit:Candice Bell


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