I am all about meal strategy. Everything (okay, not EVERYthing, but most) on my grocery list has a dual purpose. On weeks when we have a tight budget, I make two meals that work together: Beans and Cornbread and Bean and Cheese Flautas. This is one of my favorite ways to knock out two dinners. Do the words “cheap” and “easy” get you to dance a little jig of joy? I thought so. Here is my meal strategy and why I love it.
I buy the four pound bag of dried pinto beans for under $4. And I can do this duo-meal prep twice with that bag. That is four meals with the main ingredient under $4! All the ingredients listed below are things that I almost always have on hand. That is really why this works so well for us.
Disclaimer: This post is about meal strategy and only provides a link to one recipe and the second meal is just how I do it (I won't insult you by calling it a legitimate recipe). If it frustrates you when people do not provide exact measurements of ingredients, you may want to get the gist of the second meal and then look up your own recipe.
Meal #1: Beans and Cornbread.
If you have never made a pot of beans, it is surprisingly easy, makes a ton, and could not be more affordable. If you know how to make beans and cornbread, by all means, use your own recipe. But for the purpose of getting two meals out of it, cook 4 cups of dried pinto beans. I love Pioneer Woman‘s recipe for beans and cornbread . The cornbread is amazing!!! It usually takes my beans longer than two hours. If your beans are cooking and and seem tough after a couple of hours, keep cooking them. I wait until they look like Ree’s with the “gravy”, and are good and soft. I copy/paste just the ingredient list below. But if you would like Pioneer Woman’s full recipe, click here. **Note, because I copy/paste Ree’s recipe below, I changed the text color to blue to distinguish her recipe from my added comment.
- FOR THE BEANS:
- 4 cups Dry Pinto Beans
- 4 slices Thick Bacon (can Also Use Salt Pork, Or Ham Hock, Or Diced Ham)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
- FOR THE CORNBREAD:
- 1/4 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Shortening
- 1 cup Yellow Corn Meal
- 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Buttermilk (This is the only thing on these lists that I never buy. I add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of whole milk).
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1 whole Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
Meal #2: Bean and Cheese Flautas:
There may be a million better ways to do these. Please instruct me if you know something I don’t. I am not exact or precise in the least, and don’t mind at all being called out for it. But this is how I do them and my husband and kids love this dinner. That is good enough for me on most nights.
- Flour tortillas (I buy the pack of 20 every week on my shopping list. I make as many flautas as I can given that some tortillas may have been eaten in other meals).
- Left-over beans
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Garlic Powder
- Olive oil
- Softened cream cheese (this just makes it better, but its not a must)
- Salt and pepper
- Serve with salsa and sour cream
- Put some of the left-over beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Not to the point that there is an even consistency, but enough so they clump together. Each flauta doesn’t use a whole lot of the mixture so I just kind of guess at the amount of beans I will need.
- Mix in some shredded cheese, spices, and cream cheese. I don’t measure anything, but kind of taste as I go for the amount that I want.
- Place a little of the bean mixture (a spoonful or two) in a straight line on the edge of a tortilla and roll it up in a tight tube.
- Lay the uncooked flautas on a greased baking sheet so that they are not touching and the seam is facing down (if they keep unrolling, stick a tooth pick in to secure them). When flautas are rolled, spray them with oil and lightly salt the tops.
- Place them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice.
I know you could use canned beans for the second meal. But I like the idea of home-cooked beans. There is something about knowing exactly what is going into your precious family’s bellies that gives comfort to the momma making the meals.
If you still have leftover beans from the first meal and extra rice from the second meal, have beans and rice for lunch the next day! Possibilities are endless.
Also, I realize this is a lot of beans for one week. I especially know this when the beans effect my husband… oh brother. Solution: You can freeze the flautas by placing them in a freezer bag and heat them up for your kids’ lunches or for a quick dinner the following week. They are not messy like enchiladas so it is a very kid friendly, good on-the-go meal if it needs to be.
Tell me what you think, give me some pointers, and enjoy these easy meals from scratch! Also, if you are looking for a great Christmas or birthday present idea for your youngster, check out my post: Balance Bikes: A Good Decision. Thanks for reading!