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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tastier Rice and Lentils (or Beans) That Won't Make You Feel "Poor"


In reference to eating rice and beans, I often hear comments of this nature: "so poor they could only eat rice and beans," or "eating rice and beans makes me feel poor," or "rice and beans are so monotonous."

Rice and beans (or lentils) get such a bad rap. Most folks seems to think that this combination is "poor man's food." While it's true that in many regions of the world where poverty is high, rice and beans are staples of the diet primarily because, as a protein source, rice and beans are much more affordable than protein foods like meat and dairy. However, rice and beans (or lentils) can also be tasty and enjoyable, whether one is on a budget or not.

I do understand that the texture of the combination can be unappealing, and in some cases, the fiber or carbs are unwelcome. I'm not suggesting that everyone should add rice and beans/lentils to their menus. But, in case you would like to incorporate them more often, I thought I'd share how I prepare them.



The way that I make rice and lentils (or beans) is heavy on the veggies. This not only adds more servings of vegetables to our diet, but it also greatly improves the texture of the dish, while still being a very budget-friendly meal. The vegetables that I choose are typically inexpensive ones, such as garden greens, onions, canned tomatoes, and canned corn. 



The manner in which I prepare this dish is much like fried rice, only it's a Tex-Mex version. I use leftover rice (or a pot made fresh, either way works), cooked lentils or beans, lots of veggies, then all stir fried in a large skillet with plenty of oil.







One of the great things about rice and lentils is how quick this dish can come together. I can decide in the mid-afternoon that this is what I will serve and have it on the table in time for dinner. No meat to thaw, and no beans to soak. Lentils don't require any soaking and cook in the same amount of time as a pot of rice, meaning that this is a very quick bean-based meal.



You've probably noticed that my family eats a lot of rice and lentils. It's quick, tasty, nutritious, and extremely cheap to make. This and homemade bean burritos (in homemade flour tortillas) are our main budget Tex-Mex foods. These two dishes don't require buying any commercial products, as we make our own yogurt (to use in place of sour cream), salsa, and tortillas. I consider both rice and lentils to be low in hands-on effort, making these foods ideal for busy people who need to conserve their budget.

This post was inspired by Vivian, who requested that I share my method for preparation of rice and lentils in the comments on this post about how I feed the 4 of us adults on a budget of $125 to $135 per month. Here you go, Vivian. I hope this gives you some inspiration for making rice and lentils in ways that appeal to you more.

8 comments:

ruthie said...

Spices and sauces make all the difference! Thanks for sharing that. I love the idea of the greens incorporated into that recipe.

Sheri said...

That top photo looks fantastic. I think I even could get my picky, meat-loving teen son to like this. We love, love, love Mexican food.

Live and Learn said...

Lentils are great because of how fast they cook. That looks like a great combination to have with them. However, I live in a family where some or all members don't like onions and green peppers so we use other things--usually what's handy.

It's interesting that you have heard negative comments about rice and beans. I always hear about them in the context of good basic food that most of the world has figured out is a nutritious combination. But maybe it's my background. Rich or poor beans were something everyone ate usually with cornbread and biscuits instead of rice. And the same in my husband's family. His mother was from Central America where rice and beans were on everyone's plate regardless of their economic standing. However, I will say that sometimes economic circumstances make rice and beans a wise choice for the budget.

Lili said...

ruthie said...
Spices and sauces make all the difference! Thanks for sharing that. I love the idea of the greens incorporated into that recipe.


Hi Ruthie,
I agree completely -- a meal can be tasteless or really great, all depending on what is added to it. I love that I can slip in some leafy greens to a dish. A little nutritional boost and no one minds or really notices

Lili said...

Sheri said...
That top photo looks fantastic. I think I even could get my picky, meat-loving teen son to like this. We love, love, love Mexican food.


Hi Sheri,
thank you. Yes, I hope that a dish like this can convince your son that beans (lentils) and rice are tasty! Our family really loves Tex-Mex, too. It's an easy cuisine to throw together and have taste good.

Lili said...

Live and Learn said...
Lentils are great because of how fast they cook. That looks like a great combination to have with them. However, I live in a family where some or all members don't like onions and green peppers so we use other things--usually what's handy.

It's interesting that you have heard negative comments about rice and beans. I always hear about them in the context of good basic food that most of the world has figured out is a nutritious combination. But maybe it's my background. Rich or poor beans were something everyone ate usually with cornbread and biscuits instead of rice. And the same in my husband's family. His mother was from Central America where rice and beans were on everyone's plate regardless of their economic standing. However, I will say that sometimes economic circumstances make rice and beans a wise choice for the budget.


Hi live and learn,
Oh yes, no onions for your household. You know, I'm convinced that some people taste foods differently than others. I'm that way with most fish. I taste metal, but no one else in the house does.
I didn't grow up eating beans or lentils, at least not more than the occasional can of baked beans for a BBQ. Yum, biscuits and beans would be yummy. That's an interesting observation about your mother-in-law's food heritage, that economics played no part in whether or not folks ate beans and rice.

Belinda said...

Looks delicious and is one of our favorites here too. This would go terrific in a tortilla too. Onions are the start of so many great dishes. I do like how fast lentils cook too, I have lentil taco filling that we use from time to time here. I love how easy it comes together.

Lili said...

Hi Belinda,
Oh, I agree, filling a tortilla with this would make a very tasty meal. Lentils are so versatile. I often use them where I might otherwise use ground beef. Taco filling with lentils sounds yummy. I'm getting hungry just thinking about all of the possibilities!

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