Healthier Living

Budget-Friendly Recipes Using Beans

Miriam Alter, RDN March 9, 2023

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Inflation is a buzzword these days, and it has a very practical ramification! Many of us are looking to cut our food bills while still creating delicious and wholesome meals for ourselves and the people we love.

Beans are super-versatile. They are a combination food (containing both protein and healthy
carbohydrates) and are very high in fiber. In addition, they have a subtle taste that lends itself to many different uses. I have said this before, but for some reason beans are a food that is underrepresented in the standard Ashkenazi diet, beyond cholent. It is a pity because they are chock-full of nutrients and…. still inexpensive despite all that inflation!

Below, I will present a few of my favorite super-simple recipes starring beans as a main ingredient. My family looks forward to these meals. I hope that many of you will find them to be delicious as well.

White Bean Soup

Easy to throw together, and pleasing to even picky eaters.

This soup can be considered a carb in terms of menu planning, served with a sprinkle of cheese on top, or it can be the protein food, served together with a crusty roll.


  • 2 to 3 onions, diced
  • 1 bag dried white beans
  • water to cover beans by 2 or 3 inches
  • salt and white pepper, to taste
  • nonstick oil spray


  1. Sauté onions in a non-stick pot sprayed with oil. Allow the onions to get soft, but watch them to prevent them from browning to keep the soup a creamy white color.
  2. Add in a bag of white dried beans (if you wash, check or soak your beans before use, do so before adding to the pot).
  3. Add water to the pot until it is two or three inches above the onion-bean mixture. Add some salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Once it is boiling, turn it down to a simmer and allow to simmer for at least 4 hours, until the beans are very soft.
  5. At that point, take the pot off the stove and puree with an immersion blender. Add more salt and white pepper to taste.

This soup is even better the next day. You may need to add more water when you reheat the soup.


Another super-simple recipe that takes about ten minutes from start to finish.

Adding beans into the taco meat adds texture, taste, and nutrients, and that same pound of ground beef will now serve up a few more portions.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 can kidney or pinto beans


  1. Brown ground beef in a large saucepan. Once meat is mostly cooked, drain it and return it to the flame.
  2. Add in taco seasoning per instructions on the packet.
  3. Stir beans into the taco meat, leaving the mixture on the flame until it is heated through.
  4. The taco meat is now ready to eat. I personally like to make this dish a little bit in advance and allow it to simmer covered on the stove for about half an hour before eating it.

My kids love to eat taco meat scooped onto tortilla chips or in a soft taco wrap propped in a stand. I am more likely to throw the meat on top of a bed of lettuce and add in a few more toppings such as fresh salsa, hot peppers, purple onions, and avocado, and just a couple of chips for added crunch.


Not as exotic as it sounds — chimichangas are simply flour tortillas stuffed with refried beans and cheese, rolled up and pan-fried. As a kid, the local pizza store sold them and they were a hit with all my non-bean loving friends. Here is a version that is easy to create at home that will hopefully be just as popular with your family as they were back then.

This recipe is mostly about having the ingredients in your house to put together when you are in the mood for a filling, delicious meal: soft flour tortillas and a can of refried beans.


  • tortillas
  • refried beans
  • shredded cheese


  1. Put down a tortilla on your cooking surface, add a scoop of refried beans and a sprinkle of cheese.
  2. Roll up egg-roll style, and pan-fry in a non-stick pan sprayed with oil. This recipe would work great in a Betty Crocker as well. If you find the rolling challenging, you can instead spread the beans and cheese on half the wrap, fold it in half, and fry it quesadilla-style instead.
  3. The chimichanga is ready when it is warmed through and the cheese is melted.

My kids enjoy making these with the small size street taco tortillas. I prefer the large tortillas.

Many stores sell all sorts of low calorie/high fiber tortillas.