Beans are Frugal: I’ll Analyze Your Menu Plans to Help you Include More!

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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.

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. (no longer accepting entries)

Frugal Real Food Meal PlansLooking for a quick and painless REAL FOOD meal plan? I was, too, and then my friend Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs came up with an excellent resource – a complete monthly meal plan, way beyond just recipes. It’s a shopping list, price guide, money-saving tips and detailed prep lists all rolled into one. Don’t wait another month! CLICK HERE to learn more and make your purchase.

The best part? Feed a family of four for under $350 in monthly groceries. Plus – save more! Tiffany has graciously offered an exclusive coupon for Kitchen Stewardship readers. Just enter the coupon code KS15 before checking out for 15% off the 3-month or annual packages. If you aren’t yet ready to commit you can download a 2-week sample menu OR purchase a single month to give it a go. You have nothing to lose!

Start NOW

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.

beans, menu planning, meal planning

Welcome, Pennywise Platter Thursday visitors! Many of you NT folks probably don’t need these ideas, but maybe you can help me out!

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.

The List of Participants
Meal Plan Analysis Number One

Meal Plan Analysis Number Two
Meal Plan Analysis Number Three
Meal Plan Analysis Number Four

Meal Plan Analysis Number Five

An Example

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

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.

Snacks/Meal Fillers

  • fresh fruit (strawberries, watermelon, apples, bananas)
  • fresh veggies/salad
  • smoothies
    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!
  • leftovers

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

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.


Other helpful posts:

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14 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    How fun is that?! I’ve been off the computer for much of the week, but had to stop and comment when I saw this in my google reader.

    Never though of Mexican grilled cheese! I’ll also give spinach in my eggs a try sometime. Just now getting squash and zucchini out of the garden. Sooo ready for grilled veggies now! :)

    Amy @ Finer Things’s last blog post..Mommy, Come Home: A Solid Beginning

  2. says
    You’re welcome to look mine over if you ‘d like to.

    I used to add lentils in my ground beef (about 1/3 cooked lentils, 2/3 beef or 1/3 beef 1/3 venison) but hubby found them and now inspects all ground beef before eating 😉

    I just cooked a big batch of white beans yesterday and have been wondering what to do with them. Going to see if I can find a good bean salad recipe, thanks for the motivation!

    Cara’s last blog post..Apartment Gardening

  3. says

    “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.”

    I so agree! I loved beans (and veggies) added to a salad. So yummy. Thanks for being part of the carnival. :-) You have a very interesting and thought provoking idea going here!

    Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet’s last blog post..Pennywise Platter Thursday

  4. says

    How fun!!!! I’m a very reluctant menu planner. Below is the link to the last one I prepared. If you cook with beans, you have to plan if you’ll be soaking them. I’m a “free spirit” cook, which does not work well with soaking overnight.

    I’m trying to add more and made a pot yesterday with my new pressure cooker. But I need more imagination when it comes to beans. I have a pantry full of them. One of my children loves garbanzo beans and will even eat them for breakfast instead of cereal.

    You have my permission to use this in your blog. Thanks!

    Houstonmom’s last blog post..Reducing Electricity bill in Urban Home

  5. says

    You are too awesome. The offer comes just in time for my household, I’ve just gone veg and am working on improving a two diet household. I love beans, so bring on the ideas!!!

    Grazie Fagioli!

    Zom’s last blog post..Costco 4.4

  6. says

    please feel free to analyze! I typically only post dinners….breakfasts are usually things like eggs, smoothies, fruited muffins, and wraps, along with fresh fruit. Lunches are typically something like a pb&j or turkey breast sammy from a roasted breast I’ve baked and sliced, along with veggies and dip and fruit, or things like meat, cheese and crackers—a healthier take on “lunchables” for the boys. we also do lots of bean and cheese quesadillas for lunch.

    My youngest son eats veggies very well, the 6yo not as well but getting better, and I do a lot of “stealth” veggie-ing. :)

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Michelle’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday 7/6

  7. says

    I must admit, I think this week is much better than usual on beans and veggies, mostly because I’m really really craving veggies and salads. But I could really use some help. I’m not much of a fan of beans, practically the only way I like them (besides this new lentil salad recipe) is refried with mexicanish food. I’d love some tips for making beans and rice or just beans interesting and tasty as well as how to add them in, if you have the time, and don’t mind. Thank you so much!!

    caroline’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

  8. Melissa says

    Hello Kitchen Stewardship,

    Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions is my favorite recipe book. It can be a challenge, though, to cook for one person, even with healthy recipes because I can only eat so much of one thing in a row before my digestive systems starts to complain. I really like your beans and spinach in eggs for breakfast idea, as well as the beans in egg salad/sandwiches. What are some smaller-portioned dinner ideas or soaking bean ideas for meals that wouldn’t make me feel like I am eating the same thing over and over, meal after meal?

    • Katie says

      If you have a freezer, put it to good use – freeze single servings of what you make, and then you can switch it up as the weeks go by. Stir fries can always be made for one, although soaking beans really only seems worthwhile if you can do a whole big batch and either freeze the beans or freeze the meal… I see you’re at Franciscan (awesome!) – maybe there are others around who would love to have some community at dinnertime and could share cooking responsibilities? Feel free to skim my recipes w/beans; I’d say some lend themselves better to smaller portions, but I don’t know that I could sort them out right now. Blessings, Katie

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