Tag Archives: refried beans

day five

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.35 yesterday, January 6, 2011.


seconds of peanut butter & banana baked oatmeal $0.43
dollop of homemade blackberry jam (from our preserves)


vegan chipotle corn chowder $0.72
organic cameo apple $0.52


3 pinto bean tacos with cabbage, avocado, pico de gallo, cotija & lime $1.21

DESSERT (crazy, right?)

a Cadbury Caramello bar split 3 ways $0.42

8 ounces yogurt $0.72
banana $0.25
coffee with 1/3 cup almond milk $0.08 for the milk (and the coffee was free)

total: $4.35


Dessert, OMG. It is kind of embarrassing how excited everyone was to have dessert just 5 days in. I mean I basically took an artsy still life photo of a Caramello bar, right? Levi was in one of his hysterical moods, and had us cracking up with, “This must have MDMA in it because I’m feeling severe bursts of euphoria.”

Gee, do you think we eat too much sugar? I think one of the missions of the project is well on its way to being accomplished.

And DINNER. We eat tacos pretty regularly around here. I know it to be a cheap dinner. And still, we were all pretty amazed that it was just over a dollar for 3 tacos that tasted that good. Here is the cost breakdown:

9 small corn tortillas $0.45
1 clove garlic $0.01
¼ onion $0.05
beans $0.69
4 oz cabbage $0.15
avocado $0.79
pico de gallo freebie
2 oz cotija cheese $1.25
1/2 lime $0.25

total: $3.64
per serving (3 tacos): $1.21

The pico de gallo was the only thing I couldn’t calculate a price on. You may have noticed I’ve started to try to calculate many of our staples and even the leftover stuff we need to use up. We got that pico from Grocery Outlet, and it was cheap. My best guess is we each used less than a quarter’s worth, so that still makes 3 delicious tacos for under a buck-fifty.

Canned refried beans are nasty. I’m just going to put that out there. I am forever indebted to my friends Jordan and Melanie for teaching me how to doctor up beans for tacos. It makes all the difference in the world. So I am going to pass that wisdom on to you, dear readers, and tell you what we do with a plain old can o’ pinto beans.

Rinse the beans and set aside. Finely dice 1/4 of an onion and a clove of garlic. Heat a small pot over medium high heat and add a couple teaspoons of canola oil. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the beans, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, Goya Adobo or salt to taste, and enough water so that the water is just a bit below the top of the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook at a low boil. Use a masher on the beans as they cook. They are ready when the beans are soft and creamy, but leave some texture.

Yes, this is a lot more work than opening a can, but it is pretty simple and so worth it. One can is enough for 2 or 3 people, so make larger batches accordingly. Often we do a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans and save the leftovers for another meal.

Also, can I just note that it took me five days to realize I can use my kitchen scale to portion out ingredients and calculate their cost a lot more easily? We finally caved and bought a kitchen scale this year for canning, and it is proving to be a really handy tool to have around.

Oh, and extra points to Levi for peeling apart and counting the cloves in the giant head of garlic we bought for 33 cents. He got 28. So a penny a clove.


Filed under food