With the new year just beginning, we’re spending this month looking at ways to make simple changes in the home that are frugal and support a sustainable lifestyle. Today’s post is a frugal recipe that can be used in myriad ways and can be frozen in smaller portions to make meal planning easy.
Beans are an important pantry staple – they store well for long periods of time, they’re usually fairly inexpensive, and they’re easy to prepare given a bit of forethought. They’re a great way to feed and nourish a family frugally!
When combined with a whole grain, such as brown rice (which is even better sprouted!), beans provide a significant dose of protein, folate, fiber, Vitamin B1, and several minerals, most notably phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. What I find most interesting about the nutritional profile of beans, however, is the high levels of needed molybdenum, an elemental metal, which prevents tooth decay and certain cancers!
This recipe was passed on to me by a friend a couple of years ago, and since then we’ve made it regularly, tweaking it a bit each time until we’ve gotten it to just how we like it in our family. Feel free to continue tweaking to make it just right for your family.
Refried Beans in a Crock Pot
3 cups dry pinto beans or black beans
6 cups water
3 onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
Toss everything in a slow cooker and cook on high for 8-9 hours. After 7 hours, check to make sure the beans aren’t sticking to the sides. If so, add a bit of water and mix it in thoroughly.
When the beans are completely soft, puree the mix with an immersion blender, high-speed blender (such as a Blendtec or VitaMix), or food processor. Our family likes thick, creamy beans, so I find a regular blender doesn’t work well for this process as you have to add too much water to get the mixture to blend properly. If your family likes refried beans a bit on the pourable side, a standard blender should work just fine.
Mexican Traditional Refried Beans
If you would like your refried beans a bit more autentico, increase the water to 8-9 cups so that you end up with a much soupier finished product, then re-fry them in a few tablespoons of lard (no substitutes!) and serve immediately.