Frugal Kitchen: Classic Rice and Beans

Welcome to the first installment of Frugal Kitchen, a weekly effort to get interesting recipes out there to people who are on a budget, or just looking for some ways to be creative with what’s already in the pantry. If you have any recipes, I encourage you to share them! — V

There are tons of dishes that are easy to make and are versatile enough that you can rotate out some of the ingredients depending on what’s cheapest. Plus, you can make enough so that you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunches throughout the week.

One favorite is the classic rice and beans recipe. It’s really very simple, and cheap, and can be expanded upon in many ways. Plus it gives you tons of fiber and protein.

Classic Rice and Beans

2 cups dried beans (garbanzo, kidney or lentils all work well)*
2 cups rice
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
plenty of vegetables of your choosing. some favorites: spinach (frozen or fresh), carrots, celery, squash, onion, tomato, kale.
salt and pepper to taste
optional: grated cheese

* If you’re using dried garbanzos or kidneys, you’ll need to soak your beans overnight. If you’re using lentils you can begin right away, and the same is true with canned beans (but dried are cheaper!). For this recipe, I’ll assume you’re using lentils.

  1. Set 3 cups of water to boil, add salt, and add rice. Monitor for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding enough water to prevent sticking. When your rice is nearly cooked, add the lentils and leave on low-boil for another 20 minutes.
  2. When both rice and lentils are tender, strain the remaining water and rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove any starch. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add your oil and garlic, saute for about 5 minutes
  4. Add rice and beans back into pan and coat with your sauteed garlic oil. Now, with low heat, add rinsed and chopped vegetables of your choosing to the pan. Certain vegetables will take less time than others (spinach and kale, versus carrots and beets). Cover the pot and let sit on low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with grated cheese.

And that’s it. Since this recipe can go so many ways, let me know you mixed it up in the comments below!

    Posted in beans, family, frugal, Frugal Kitchen, ideas, legumes | Leave a comment

    A Frugal Life is Best Shared with Friends

    The process of resolving debts can be a strain on our social lives. What once were late nights having drinks with friends or shopping at the mall for the latest trend are now quiet evenings spent at home and hours on the Internet in search of a bargain. And the truth is, not participating in these activities can be saddening — if not just for your closet, but for your sense of pride.

    It’s nice to have a community of people who, like you, are interested in living a fulfilling life on a budget. And as the world quickly embraces new ways of living more environmentally and socially conscious lifestyles, living frugally is not just a lot easier, but it’s a lot chicer, too.

    To help you connect with others who are choosing to live mindfully and on a budget, a new community on Facebook has started up with the goal of providing quick tips on living a frugal life. It’s our hope that through this community, you can develop new habits that will help you save money without missing a thing. And, to sweeten the deal, we’ll be offering weekly vouchers to the people who post the best “Frugal Tip of the Week” on our Facebook Wall.

    Visit Frugal Friends of the UK on Facebook.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

    Are Women Bad with Money?

    New figures from the Insolvency Service reveal that debt among UK women has risen by 28% in the last year, and that 40% of all bankruptcies are attributed to women. Younger women in particular are having a hard time managing their money, with those women aged 25 – 44 making up nearly two-thirds of all female bankruptcies.

    The reasons behind these staggering figures are many, though staff at the Insolvency Service are citing “celebrity lifestyle envy” as a leading cause. Women consistently purchase up lifestyles — clothes, electronics, makeup, jewelry — that are outside of their actual means. And for some women, there is pressure to keep up appearances.

    Take for example Kimberly Randall’s story, cited in an Independent article about the topic. Randall is overweight and feels that looking presentable is a harder task for someone of her stature, particularly as she can’t just “pick up a cheap little dress in the market.”

    Yet there are many women who just don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Laura Wadsworth is another great example, owning credit cards as young as 18 and purchasing holidays and clothes all throughout university on credit. “It was free money then,” she says.

    But there is a flip side to these findings: reports from the Equal Opportunities Commission revealing that women earn less, own less, and have lower earning potential than men. When these factors are taken in light of two possible life occurrences in — unemployment and motherhood — the picture becomes a bit sharper.

    And though there is certainly an argument to be made for equality in the workplace and a need for generous benefits for single-parent households, there is a faulty assumption at work in these findings.

    Can we really say “lifestyle envy” is unique to women? Certainly men too face pressures to own nice cars, afford expensive meals and if married, provide their families with all sorts of luxuries. Perhaps it’s more that our society, indeed many societies, have let celebrity living into our homes with such open arms that we are now paying the cost of not being able to separate our realities from the one we see on television and in magazines. We are unable to make happiness of our own lives because our model for happiness has been set in a dream world.

    And for all the doom and gloom of the report, there is a silver lining. That more and more women are going bankrupt is both bringing awareness to a pressing issue and is also a finding that is proportionate to the increased number of women in the workplace and starting their own businesses.

    Posted in insolvency, IVA, women | Leave a comment

    IVAs Helping Grandparents Give

    It’s a common scenario: a young couple, with children and a mortgage, falls into a bad way. To help ease their troubles, and give their children the things that they need for success, the couple will look to family members, typically the grandparents, for help. Yet what happens when family members are themselves in a bad way?

    While it’s common for older adults to want to provide for their children beyond university, it might not be the easiest thing for them to take on given their personal financial burdens. But an IVA can help.

    An IVA can help grandparents whittle away at their mounting debts while providing enough disposable income that can be used towards other things, such as spending time with family or helping others out in rough times. And for older adults who are concerned about the stipulations or stigma of starting an IVA, examining the pros and cons and learning more about the process are good first steps to starting down the path towards financial security.

    The first step towards changing your life starts with you, and it’s fortunate that there are so many fantastic resources such as an IVA that can help individuals reclaim their lives and start focusing on those things which matter most: happiness, freedom, and family.

    Posted in family, older adults | Leave a comment