"Food prices are going up, but eating well doesn’t have to break your budget."
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel
"Once you know what you value, it’s time to examine your spending habits"
Miranda Marquit


Past Posts

Bean Sammich



Delicious, nutritious, freakin’ easy, and cheap: the bean sandwich.

Yeah, sure, I bought the bread. But I made the beans!  You could make your own bread and use canned beans, or… well, look, the idea is: Bean Sandwich.  OK, from there it’s variable all over the place.

The bread cost me $2 for a 15-slice loaf, so two slices cost me about 27 cents.  If you make your bread, that will be about half that cost.   The beans, I made from dried pinto beans. I didn’t calculate the cost, but it’s gotta be less than a quarter, I’m guessing.

It’s filling, and for about 50 cents, this sandwich supplies a heck of a lot of nutrition!  I looked it up on Self’s Nutrition Data site and found this:

Protein              15.1 g        30% Daily Value
Thiamin             0.3 mg     22%
Riboflavin        0.2 mg      14%
Niacin                4.2 mg       21%
Vitamin B6       0.3 mg      17%
Folate              ~59.8 mcg    ~15%
Calcium             79.4 mg     8%
Iron                     5.2 mg         29%
Magnesium       128 mg        32%
Phosphorus      332 mg       33%
Potassium          771 mg      22%
Zinc                       2.4 mg       16%
Copper                  0.5 mg       24%
Manganese          2.2 mg        110%
Selenium              43.3 mcg     62%

Bean sandwiches have been a thing for over 100 years in the United States, and of course before that various combinations of beans and bread go back thousands of years.  And no wonder. Beans are cheap and easy, bread is cheap and easy, they both taste good, they will help you stay healthy… I mean, gee whiz, what’s not to love?

Culinary Colleen makes a fantastic White Bean and Avocado Sandwich.

Beans can be the main ingredient in the sandwich, or an addition to some other kind of sandwich. As the Randal Beans Company points out, “Bean spread can act as a condiment on your favorite sandwich, replacing boring old mayonnaise and mustard while adding a shot of flavor and protein.”

Even the self-professed “raging carnivore” at ArtOfManliness.com praises a black bean sandwich and says, “I can definitely see this becoming a regular sandwich for me.”

Beans on bread.  Nearly impossible to be doing it wrong.

Beef or Pork and Pumpkin Stew

Cook meat and pumpkin together for a terrific stew!

I first learned this basic idea using pork.  Pork and pumpkin is a thing in Hawaii, but the idea is infinitely variable; you can use beef or pork or chicken, or probably any other kind of meat, or even beans, for goodness sake.

The thing is, pumpkin and other hard, winter squashes, are delicious in stews.  Use what you have, eat what you like, and don’t worry about the particulars.

Some recipes will call for a Kabocha, which is a pumpkin that is green on the outside.  You may see these kinds of pumpkins sold at Asian markets. You can use a Kobocha or a pumpkin-pie pumpkin.  You can also add mushrooms.

A lot of people add canned tomatoes, like in this Stewed Pork and Butternut Squash.

You can use chicken and make it Chicken Pumpkin Stew.  Heck, you could even use duck (but duck’s not cheap.)

That duck and pumpkin stew recipe uses coconut uses coconut milk, which is an example of how you can use any kind of liquid you like. I used chicken stock because I happened to have it in the refrigerator. A lot of recipes call for beef stock.  If you have a recipe that says to use beef stock, and you don’t have any, just use some other liquid, even water.

You don’t have to use meat at all. Here’s a beautiful recipe for Pumpkin and White Bean Stew at WholeLiving.com.

So cook some kind of stew with some kind of squash, already!

단호박 장조림

Rice Pilaf Chicken Salad (Or Serendipity Synergy Salad)

Serendipitous Synergy Salad

Serendipitous Synergy Salad

Sometimes just throwing together a bunch of different things you happen to have on hand can result in a meal so delicious it could have it’s own recipe… even though it doesn’t.

So take this either way: think of it as a recipe for a fantastic lunch or dinner dish, a delicious complete meal in a bowl; or think of it as an example of how to eat healthily with a complete lack of meal planning.

If you were to think of it as a recipe: combine cold rice pilaf, chopped steamed green beans, diced roasted chicken meat, and chopped sprouts. Stir in a little salad dressing and serve.

Now, I think it’s more interesting as a story… a story about a man who loves to ride his bicycle and hates to waste food:

Once upon a time, yesterday in fact, I roasted a chicken.  I just roasted it plain, no salt or pepper or anything, just took it out of it’s packaging and put it in the oven for a while till it was cooked.  While it was roasting, I invited my friend over for dinner. My friend isn’t eating wheat these days, so rather than serving my homemade whole wheat bread I cooked some brown rice.

I wanted to make the brown rice a little more interesting, so… I happened to have some leftover nuts and dried fruit mix from a recent bicycling trip.  I used the bottom of a mug to crush up the nuts a bit, and I added them to the pot to cook with the rice.  My pal loved that rice!

My biking buddy brought me some green beans that had been included in her CSA box last week. The beans were getting old and she didn’t think they could be saved, but she knows I hate to waste food so she gave them to me. This morning I washed and sorted the beans and managed to save most of them. I steamed them in a little boiling water for about two minutes, and they were delicious. I had some of them for breakfast.

I tend to make too many sprouts when I grow sprouts, and I had this big container of mixed alfalfa, radish, broccoli, and some other kind of sprouts.

Thus is set the stage and now cometh lunchtime.  Chicken, I think, I must eat to use up the bits of meat on the carcass left over from yesterday’s dinner.  What about that leftover rice?  Ah!  Lightbulb! A chicken and rice salad.  Got all those green beans I need to use, so… in a bowl goes cold rice pilaf, chop up green beans with scissors, chop up a handful of sprout mix with scissors, pick a bunch of pieces of chicken meat off the cold bones of the bird, stir in a little salad dressing (any kind salad dressing – it matters not).

Ta-daaa!    Delicious!   What an excellent lunch!   It would be worth all the trouble of making it on purpose if I had made it on purpose, only I didn’t.

Chicken and Rice Pilaf Salad – or – Serendipitous Synergy Salad:


Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Delicious sweet potato fries are easy to cook in the oven.

Delicious sweet potato fries are easy to cook in the oven.

They’re really easy.  Observe:

Here’s a very nice recipe in which the cook peels the potatoes, which I almost never do, and uses corn starch for extra crispitude: Cookie and Kate’s Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

Sally cuts her fries a lot thinner, for extra crispiness, and spices them with cinnamon.

Sally and Kate peel their potatoes, but lots of people agree with me that leaving the peel on gives the fries an inspired taste.

Laurie McNamara, at SimplyScratch.com, recommends soaking the raw cut fries in water to remove starch, thus promoting crisposity.  Laurie also likes her fries spicy, with cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, and more.

Chunga likes garlic and Parmesan on his sweet potato fries.

Yakiimo No Uta:  “Softly, softly, inside the mouth a feeling of happiness spreads.” – Song of Roast Sweet Potatoes

Cooking Healthy Family Meals on a Budget

Learning to shop and cook will change your life.