Dearest readers, I have a proposition for you. I’ve been challenging you often to include more beans in your diets, and everyone knows we ought to be eating more veggies. (Click here to read my friend’s story and the nutritionist’s advice to have beans every day.) Sometimes I’m just not in a place where I can try a new recipe or change my routines very much though. If you’re feeling that way too, I’d like to help you get more beans and veggies onto your table using the recipes your family already enjoys. (top photo source)
Bean and Veggie Meal Plan Analysis
For a few weeks, I’m going to offer to analyze your menu plan, pointing out places you could sneak beans and veggies in. Beans are oh so frugal and oh so healthy, but I’m guessing many people only have them with Mexican fare. To join in, if you participate in Menu Plan Mondays or otherwise post your menu plan online, just leave the link to that page in the comments on this page. If you’re not a blogger and would like to participate, just send me an email with your menu plan, with links to recipes if any are online.
I won’t be able to divine whether certain recipes are already bean or veggie heavy if the recipe isn’t a link, so you can just give me a heads-up…or not…if you’re already a bean user on a certain meal. Either way, the analysis can set an example of thoughtful meal prep for everyone.
I promise I’m not going to rake anybody over the coals or tear apart the soundness of your nutrition. We eat take-out pizza sometimes, too, no beans included! I’ll be gentle!
Here is the tutorial on how to cook with dry beans (or canned) to give you the basic foundation.
Why am I Analyzing Meal Plans for Beans?
- It will give all my readers some ideas about how to adapt their own recipes and weekly plans to get more beans and veggies in.
- It will remind me to do the same with my meal plan!
- It sounds like a good challenge for me.
- It’s a fun way to connect to others in the blogosphere.
- It should show people how easy it is to add a little nutrition.
- It’s a service I can provide for folks, and I hope to be able to help families increase the nutrients in their diets.
Amy from The Finer Things in Life has given me permission to use a few of her meal plans as an example for you. Here’s what a bean and veggie meal plan analysis would look like (my voice is in italics):
Sunday, June 7
- steak and egg scramble, banana raisin muffins, chocolate chip biscuits
- roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots (leftovers)
- pan fried tilapia, peas, strawberries and bananas
A beans and rice side goes great with fish (but peas are already a legume, with good protein). A double batch would also stretch to Wednesday’s meal if desired, or at least a double batch of cooked rice to make Wednesday’s a quickie side dish.
Monday, June 8
- banana raisin oatmeal
- hot beef sandwiches, veggies and dip, apple slices
- homemade chicken nuggets, broccoli and cauliflower with ranch dip, strawberries and bananas
Tuesday, June 9
- steak and egg leftovers, muffins
- pizza bar (make your own pizza on French bread slices), fresh fruit
Include cooked beans as a choice for the pizza, even refried beans with salsa and Mexican cheese on the pizza for a Mexican pizza twist. Encourage peppers and onions as standard pizza fare, and also consider broccoli or spinach on the pizzas – chopped small they don’t change the flavor a lot.
- fried chicken salad, then on to a carnival at our local nursing home – they promised lots of junk food and sugary drinks before bedtime. Can’t wait.
Toss some black, kidney or garbanzo beans onto the salad to fill up the tummies and have extra protein before the sugar binge.
Wednesday, June 10
- French Toast
- brown bag burritos, smoothies
- tuna melts, fruit and veggies
Cuban black beans and rice would meld super with tuna melts.
Thursday, June 11
- fried eggs, toast or muffins
- pigs in a blanket, fruit and veggie
- popcorn and smoothies, or something else equally effortless!
I don’t think I’d try beans in a smoothie…would you? ;)
Here Amy changes her meal plan up for summer; loose ideas of what she has ready for the week, able to be flexible as the days go by.
For this meal plan, Amy might want to make up a batch of cooked dry kidney or black beans early in the week to use on a few meals, or have some cans on hand. She could always freeze the extras, either from the can or from dry, and then another week’s meal plan is that much easier.
Sunday, June 21
- sausage egg scramble with cheese, blueberry streusel muffins, orange juice
Any scrambled eggs can absorb a few spoonfuls of beans; black beans taste great, or go with great northern or garbanzo if you don’t want them to be super obvious.
- grilled steak, grilled potatoes, watermelon (we filled the grill with steak, chicken, and hamburgers for easy meals the rest of the week)
Baked beans side or some rendition of beans and rice.
Add some cubed veggies like carrots, zucchini, and/or green beans in a foil packet with the potatoes. A little olive oil and seasoning or even a scoop or two of crushed tomatoes with Italian seasoning makes this just delicious! Leftovers are easy to heat up for lunches during the week, too, especially with the tomato sauce on there.
- Buster Bar Dessert (recipe coming soon, you don’t want to miss it!) (and yes, we only had dessert for supper tonight)
- fried eggs and toast (getting my eggs from the farm, too!)
- oatmeal with bananas and raisins
- homemade granola, fruit
- pancakes with strawberry topping
- scrambled eggs and muffins, fruit
Be bold and put some spinach in the scrambled eggs. See this post for how I do it regularly.
Lunch or Dinner
Since there are two places for cooked lentils this week, I would make up a batch on Sunday, freezing any extras for another week.
- Monterrey Chicken Quesadillas
Leftover chopped veggies or peppers and onions from the freezer go great in quesadillas.
- hamburgers on homemade buns, watermelon
Can incorporate cooked lentils into the burger mixture or use a leftover side from Sunday
- Ranch Chicken and Bacon Pasta Salad (using chicken from the grill)
Mmmmm, a salad is the perfect place for cold beans and any vegetables you have on hand. Sounds like black or kidney would go great with ranch.
- steak salad, strawberries and cream (from my raw milk!)
- sloppy joes, deviled eggs, carrot sticks
Cooked lentils practically disappear into sloppy joes. For a recipe that calls for 1 lb ground meat, add ½-1 cup lentils. Actually, lots of stuff disappears well into sloppy joes! I always add finely chopped carrots and red peppers to mine, and if your family wouldn’t like veggie or lentil chunks, all can be pureed (and frozen in ice cube trays) and added in the sauce at your discretion. Just don’t overdo it and get more ‘extras’ than sauce itself.
- fresh fruit (strawberries, watermelon, apples, bananas)
- fresh veggies/salad
Green smoothies, of course. Use fresh spinach or kale, or follow the directions here to make cooked green cubes, smoothie-ready.
- sandwiches (grilled cheese/pb&j)
Smear some refried beans on the grilled cheese for Mexicana grilled cheese. You can make a big batch of refried beans and freeze in ice cube trays for easy, small portions. If you put it in the fridge the night before, it should be spreadable by lunch.
- hard-boiled eggs
A super food and great to have on hand! Way to go, Amy!
Amy does a good job including veggies as a side regularly, so I didn’t find a lot of room for improvement there. Certainly I’m not suggesting that every meal be changed to include beans, but this gives some idea of a few changes that could be made every so often.
How to Participate
Who’s in? Just leave your URL in the comments section and I’ll tackle menu plans in order of appearance. If you’re not interested in veggie help but could use the bean tips, just say so. Participation gives me permission to post a copy of your meal plan with my additions, with a link to your blog (of course). I will certainly try to help you out before the menu plan actually expires…feel free to email an advance copy if you really want timely advice.
I’m honored to participate in Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet, Frugal Fridays at Life as MOM, Tightwad Tuesdays at Being Frugal, and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade. Find other menu plans at Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.
Other helpful posts:
- Menu Planning
- Plastic Safety
- Hand Sanitizers in the Home
- Olive Oil Primer
- How to Use and Store Flax
- How to Buy Safe Salmon
- How to Read a Bread Bag for Whole Grains