One of the things Anthony and I gave up when we decided to make the move to NYC happen was immediate financial security. While I would not categorize us as “poor” by any means, this situation does present itself as a unique experience to learn how to eat healthy on an extremely low budget. This is a temporary situation for us, as I’m confident we will both be employed very soon, but many people/families have to face this struggle every day.
We have to make our money last right now. Who does’t? But without income coming in currently, I’ve really gone into research mode. How can we change our eating habits to still eat healthy but not spend much money at all??
I am currently in the process of cooking large batches of dried black beans and brown rice. We are going to live on the staples. The rice and beans can easily be added to in-season produce and low cost meat protein. I am also continuing my morning smoothies, as they are a cheap way to pack in a lot of nutrition into one meal.
I’ll be posting more recipes for low cost, healthy meals as this adventure continues. And none of that “it only costs $20 to make this meal” crap. That’s not cheap, and that’s not helpful to people on an extreme budget. I’m fully committed to cheap and nutritious meals during this experience.
Two staples I’m tackling today: brown rice and black beans.
Perfect Brown Rice
The number one trick that I can give you to make brown rice more of the texture of white rice is to soak it. I soak mine in the water that I will later boil it in for one hour. I use a 2-1 water to rice ratio. I also like to add 1 tsp of chicken bouillon to every 2 cups of dried rice to the water. This just adds a little bit more flavor.
Slow Cooker Dried Beans
This batch of beans is still cooking, so I don’t have an “after” photo for you all. I used one whole bag of dried black beans (just under $2 for a lot of beans!). Rinse and sort any bad beans out of the bag.
I added 8 cups of water, a splash of olive oil, one bay leaf, one garlic clove, and a dash of chicken bouillon to the beans in a large slow cooker. You can add whatever flavor enhancers you want, but I do recommend personalizing your beans to taste. Canned beans are loaded with salt which gives them flavor. Dried beans need something extra added to them in my opinion.
Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours, or until tender. Once the timer is done, drain the remaining water from the beans. I like to freeze about half of this batch (they freeze so well!).
So there you have it. Two super cheap and healthy meal staples that can make your food budget stretch!