Hot Beans & Cheese and Budget Meal Planning

My penny-pinching meal plan worked out well last week. I stayed within my budget and did not make any random trips to the grocery store. Yay me! I found that beans were the main staple of our diet this past week. This is what we ate several times this past week (between lunches and dinner)- sooooo good. I know, I know, it’s not a creative new recipe but years ago my sister-in-law got me hooked on this and I thought you might need to know about it too. I have always opened a can of refried beans to make bean and cheese tacos but there is something about doing it this way that transforms the flavors of this otherwise average can of beans.

I add a layer of spices- cumin, garlic powder and chili powder to enhance the flavor a bit. This dish is perfect for an appetizer with chips, for a side dish or the main entree- just serve along side tortillas (I like the raw, unprocessed Tortilla Land tortillas) and you can assemble your own bean & cheese tacos. Easy peasy dinner. If you want to make this a side or appetizer just add some fajita meat or pulled pork to your plate.

The beans are low in fat or no fat depending on what you kind you buy so the layer of shredded cheese is the only form of fat here. Oh and please try to use freshly grated cheese- SO much better than the pre-shredded kind and without the added preservatives. If you make your tostada shells yourself versus buying the store-bought fried ones, you will save yourself some fat grams too.

I feel silly even calling this a recipe but it’s kind of a reminder of how this easy dish can fit into your meal planning.

Speaking of meal planning, this week will continue on a budget. I have a few meats still in the freezer (the pork and 2 chicken breasts) which will help the spending this week. Making pizza at home is much cheaper than ordering it out so that is in the plan. I’ve also got soup on the menu…after 3 and a half months of sunshine the drizzle has finally started here in Washington state, but luckily soup is pretty budget friendly.

Sunday
Eggs, Turkey Sausage and Biscuits with a side of Portobello Mushrooms (which have been waiting to be cooked)

Monday
Chicken and Lentils over Rice, frozen vegetables

Tuesday
Carnitas, Refried Beans & Cheese, Tortillas, Simple Side Salad

Wednesday
Leftovers

Thursday
Deep Dish Chicago Style Pizza (per request of my lil’ man who turns 6 today), Salad

Friday
Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup (already have the squash on hand), Crusty Bread (hopefully will try from scratch if I have time)

Saturday
 Turkey Sloppy Joes topped with slaw, Homemade potato chips 

 

I want to leave you on some delicious autumn food that I’d love to make soon:

photo source: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies courtesy of Foodista

 

photo source: Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Basil from Bon Appetit

 

photo source: Pumpkin Chili from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

 

photo source: Rosemary Foccacia from Memorie di Angelina

 

YUM! Now I am starving, but I will probably go snack on some beans and cheese until I make it to the grocery store again.  Have a great week!

Hot Beans and Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat free refried beans
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place one can of refried beans in a small baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with a light layer of chili powder, garlic powder and cumin. No measuring needed.
  2. Heat in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes (or oven at 350 degrees until hot). Remove from microwave and stir well to combine spices. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and place back in microwave for another minute or until cheese is melted.
  3. Serve with flour or corn tortillas or tostada shells. Top with cilantro, sour cream and hot sauce if desired.

Notes

You can easily double and triple this recipe, just use a large baking dish. You don't want your layer of beans to be too thick or else the ratio of beans to cheese will be off. You want an even layer of cheese over your beans so feel to adjust the amount used depending on the surface area of your dish.

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 Question: what is your favorite budge friendly meal? What are you craving this fall?

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Comments

  1. Simply Life says:

    meal planning helps us save SO much money! looks like you found some great meals to make! I love this idea with the beans!
    Simply Life recently posted..Friday Fun!My Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      It normally does for me too. I think the only problem is my food budget is too high! From one food blogger to another, you know how that goes! ;)

  2. Gretchen Hokenson says:

    Looks good. I will have to try the beans and cheese this way. We eat a lot of beans in our house.
    Here is the plan for the week.
    Sun- baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese
    Mon- if I get to the store I will make your black bean burgers with fries from the freezer and some veggies.
    Tues-a zucchini black bean and rice skillet with some fruit
    Wed- Britt is making tortilla soup
    Thurs- pasta salad
    Fri- homemade pizza
    Sat- either leftovers and sandwiches

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Mmm…the rice skillet sounds good. This is by far the best 3 minute meal out there. Great football snacking food too :) Thanks for the comment Gretchen!

  3. E says:

    I am a new Paleo eater so I now have to work on my budgeting while managing to continue this lifestyle. It can definitely get pricey! I am enjoying all the pumpkin recipes, though! That pumpkin chili looks legit!
    Swinging by from the Link Love as a fellow FFA! Have a great week!
    E
    adventureofe.blogspot.com
    E recently posted..my mini masseurMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      That is true- it’s easy to rack up the bill on produce and meats. Good luck though- with a little planning you can do it!

  4. Amy says:

    Yum! The beans and cheese look delicious! Perfect addition to our Mexican night!
    Here’s what The Mackey’s have planned for the week:
    Sunday: pumpkin curry soup, rotisserie chicken sandwiches, fruit and veggies
    Monday: fish tacos with mango salsa
    Tuesday: vegetable lasagna with side salad
    Wednesday: grilled BBQ chicken thighs, salad
    Thursday: leftovers
    Friday: veggie burritos with rice, beans
    Saturday: out to dinner :)

  5. Beans are a staple of our daily meal planning. We don’t eat a lot of meat – rarely chicken or fish. Great idea!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Yoga For RunnersMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thanks Angela! I can’t figure out if I spend more or less when I eat more vegetarian dishes. You can spend quite a bit on produce depending on where you shop. I don’t think it really matters- I usually make up for it somehow. :) I just love that beans are SO inexpensive!

  6. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie says:

    Omg everything looks amazing!!! I think I need to surprise Josh next weekend with that hot cheese bake!
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted..Running Around State CollegeMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      You should! It takes all of a few minutes to prepare. Yummy football snack too if your man is into that. ;)

  7. What a simple yet delicious sounding dinner! Chris refuses to not eat meat at dinner so I would have to add some but this looks like a winner!
    Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family recently posted..Weekend RecapMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      That’s funny Madeline. Throw in some fajita meat and he should be happy. I have a feeling my Lucas will be like that. He LOVES meat.

  8. Kierston says:

    You’re making me drool very early this morning ;)
    Kierston recently posted..Being Proud…My Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Haha, early morning drool over food is totally acceptable. :) Have a great week and thanks for visiting!

  9. Katelyn says:

    You are my hero. I am NOT the world’s best budgeter. In fact, I kind of suck at it. Yesterday I went to Wegman’s and added up everything as I went. It was really impressive until I left the Produce section and started buying my meat. Oyyyyy.

    p.s. Cheese and whoopie pies. This is the best morning ever. #foodporn

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Well I am only on week 2 of my budgeting theme. Normally I have a pretty large food budget and even then I get kind of carried away. I can’t help it though- LOVE food! I am so trying to do better at least until the end of the year. These Holidays have a food blogger blowing through $$$!!

  10. Elle says:

    In the Fall I love all the different squashes that are a great price, and the sweet potatoes too!
    Elle recently posted..Pumpkin Protein Pancakes… It’s the Season!My Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      That’s true Elle! I wish my kids like them more, but I need to pick out some more squash dishes over the next few weeks.

  11. meal planning is such a great idea! It saves a lot of money! you are awesome!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Haha, thanks Danielle. I am only in week 2 of doing it on a budget. I always meal plan but I have a bad habit of throwing whatever I want into the grocery cart. I spend WAY too much on food. ;)

  12. Monday: homemade vegan lasagna -I taught this at a cooking class last week…I will post the recipe soon :)
    Tuesday: leftover chili or lasagna
    Wednesday: Vegan tortilla soup
    Thursday: bean and veggie quesadillas
    Friday: pizza

    I have a risotto with butternut squash recipe that I adore…So yummy. Maybe Friday night I will have the energy to do that instead of pizza night for the hubs and myself?
    Brittany Smith recently posted..Meal plan and update.My Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Sounds yummy Britt. I’d love to see what you did with the lasagna. I am assuming lots of veggie and sauce?

  13. Julia says:

    I’ve been trying to drastically cut back on food spending and have also ended up eating beans just about every day. This dish looks wonderful. I used to make bean dip by melting cheese with beans, but i have a feeling that following your directions for spices will make it 10x better! Thanks for the idea.
    Julia recently posted..On Not Looking Like A RunnerMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thanks Julia,
      You should join me for weekly menu planning! It definitely helps. We can figure out how many different ways to eat our beans! ;)

  14. So simple, but this looks SO good! I’ve made my meal plan for this week, but my husband is travelling the next two days & I may have to make this for myself and the kids-simple and delicious!
    EA-The Spicy RD recently posted..Orange Ginger Pear Sauce and An Extra Sweet SurpriseMy Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Like I said EA- kind of silly to call it a recipe, but it is quite yummy. The ONLY benefit of the hubs traveling is that I can slack on the meals a little. ;)

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