Ah, beans. The magical fruit the more you eat the more you…toot.
Years ago, working minimum wage and paying for living expenses. I am not immune to not being able to pay for the more high quality organic foods. Making less pay than living expenses is what a lot of people go through, struggling to make ends meet. I have heard many, many times, that saying within the holistic circle “Paying more for your food now- is paying less for hospital bills and being sick later.” Totally agree. But on that same note- without a credit card- which I didn’t have up until 2013- you cannot spend money you don’t have. On that same note, fast food appears cheap… and for most of America it is cheap. BUT, let’s take into perspective two Subway sandwiches. Sometimes on really long road trips, I will stop at the lesser of evils among fast foods. (I have boycotted most fast food restaurants since 2008- including McDonalds, Burger King, the list goes on) So when my personally packed sandwiches and foods have run out on a really long road trip, we stop at Subway, and buy two sandwiches. Which usually is about $20. $20!!!!!! That’s a LOT for one meal!!! (Sorry, Subway).
Back to years ago- being broke. If I had decided like some Americans that I didn’t have the money or the time to buy the groceries I needed for the week- and I decided to instead go to work and buy lunch at a fast food restaurant. From several online searches I have found that a realistic average cost for a meal at McDonalds is $8. (That’s for one person). If I had McDonalds every day at lunch for $8 and then went home and had a cheap dinner, let’s say potato chips and salsa or something inexpensive like ramen noodles (inexpensive is almost always unhealthy). That’s maybe $12 a day just for myself. But usually a person is not only paying for themselves but also- a spouse or significant other, and maybe they are unemployed and/or going to school, or maybe they have a job also. But-
One week/One person on a fast food diet- $84
One week/Two people on a fast food diet- $168
Whoa!!! Alright. Well thankfully I didn’t believe in fast food back then, nor do I now. I have got two words for people struggling to make ends meet and feed their family on a tight budget-
A 2 pound bag of pinto beans is give or take a little-about $3. Thank God for pinto beans. This is how I fed myself for days at a time. If you are struggling, give it a try. I’m not talking about organic pinto beans (although that would be better) I’m just talking about a cheap, better option than ramen noodles. I believe the canned beans are pricier, so I’m just talking about the bagged beans.
These days- during the week- I will make a soup or something similar- and if you can make a soup (or beans) last for three or four days in one week then you can save the money to buy the organic vegetables and one day meals for the rest of the week. This is how I get to make all the wonderful, healthy recipes that I do during a majority of the week.
Back to pinto beans. What do you do with them once you get a 2 pound bag? Get some onions, chop those up, get some fresh, organic cilantro (you want your greens to be organic if possible, since your beans probably aren’t) Onions do not have to be organic- they aren’t part of the dirty dozen (the dirty dozen is the vegetables and fruits you MOST want to buy organic because of contamination).
Wash your pinto beans in a colander, make sure there isn’t any rocks in there. Depending on the size of your family, make the beans accordingly. Beans will stay good for a few days but they are nasty after a while, you want to measure accordingly to make sure you don’t waste any beans. So then, bring a pot to boiling, add your onions, cilantro and beans (you can add jalapeno too if you wish), and then bring to boil- cover and turn the heat down some. After a few hours you will smell a nice cilantro aroma. When the beans are kind of soft then they are finished. I like to add some sea salt and pepper. I would spread some organic butter on some whole wheat toast and then eat the bread with the beans. You could also use tortillas. For breakfast you could heat up some beans on the stove and add some eggs for egg tacos. Even some sliced avocado with beans. Pinto beans saved me from starvation a few times. Even if I got tired of beans after a few days, the shimmering light was that once the beans were finished maybe I’d have some money for treats like vegetable soups.
But please, if eating ramen noodles do not eat the packet that comes with it. Find another way to flavor it. That is packed full of MSG. By the way- if you can find an asian grocery store, you can find bags full of those types of noodles for only a dollar or two. Experiment.
Happy eating and here’s to hoping the economy improves.
Here is a list from The World’s Healthiest Foods
about the health benefits of pinto beans.
Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. But this is far from all pinto beans have to offer. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Pinto beans, like other beans, are rich in fiber. A cup of cooked pinto beans provides 62% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
Onions have cardiovascular benefits. Multiple studies show onion to be a food that provides protection for the heart and blood vessels when consumed in a diet that is rich in other vegetables and fruits—especially flavonoid-containing vegetables and fruits. The benefits of onion in this overall dietary context extend to prevention of heart attack. In and of itself, the high sulfur content of onions may provide direct benefits to our connective tissue. Many of our connective tissue components require sulfur for their formation. Onion’s antioxidants—including its hallmark flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin—also provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. These antioxidants help prevent the oxidation of fatty acids in our body. Onion has repeatedly been shown to lower our risk of several cancers, even when we consume it in only moderate amounts.
Cilantro (also known as Coriander)
Coriander seeds have a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects. Coriander (also called cilantro) contains an antibacterial compound that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness, suggests a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.