Beans and rice and rice and beans
Over the past couple of years as a student, I’ve built up a stock of recipes for when I need something cheap, easy and vaguely healthy for dinner. They’re all pretty flexible, though – being able to use up whatever’s in the fridge is a great way to cut food waste and to save a bit of money. No running out to buy any extra ingredients!
I keep a stock of spices that come in handy in loads of different dishes – chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper… I like spicy food, and a few jars of spices work out a lot cheaper in the long run than getting something ready-made. I also tend to buy ingredients that don’t really go off in bulk – Tesco does big bags of rice and pasta, which are great starting points for when you’re not sure what to have for dinner. I tend to always have garlic, salt, pepper, oil and some sort of onion or another in. I keep a stock of dried beans in, but I’m not always on top of getting them prepped in good time for cooking, so I use canned beans sometimes too. Canned tomatoes are also really versatile and I usually have some in – great for pasta sauces, pizza, chilli, stew, curry…
On the menu today is beans and rice with vegetables – more or less anything that I need to use up can go in it, really: basil leaves left over from a stew I made the other day, a couple of chillies, three spring onions, half an orange pepper and some spinach that’s just starting to look a little bit sad. From the cupboard, I’ve got some brown rice I used canned black beans because dried ones take an hour to boil and I wanted dinner to be quick tonight.
I set the rice cooking while I chopped all of the veg – twice as much cold water as rice, bring it up to the boil and then turn it down, and after all the water’s boiled away take it off the hob. I fried the spring onions, chillies and basil for a couple of minutes, then added the rice and beans with finely chopped garlic and a bit of cumin. I mixed it all together and then added the pepper and a handful of spinach – these go at the end so they don’t get soggy from cooking for too long.
I plated it up, served it with a bit of salsa and put the leftovers in a plastic box for tomorrow’s lunch. All in all, it’s a quick, cheap and tasty dinner that also happens to be vegan if you’re looking for that.