Look! It’s a dinner that doesn’t involve potatoes!
I love to cook. And by that I mean I love to make and eat delicious food. But I don’t necessarily love the process of making dinner every night – because, the budget. The unpredictable pickiness of children. The dishes. The juggling of schedules and activities. And – every night.
Enter: meal planning and make-ahead meals! I have a few basic strategies to make dinner easier:
- Plan 5 days at a time. I used to plan and shop for a full week, but doesn’t something always come up to throw off the plan? Last week it was the best possible something – a friend offered to babysit so Jay and I could go on a date! I was thrilled to bump our planned dinner to the next night. Plus, we can’t seem to go more than 5 days without a grocery store trip, so this works for us.
- Strategic use of leftovers… If Jay has the grill going, I love to throw something else on for another night, like chicken for a big salad or to top a pizza. Last week I roasted pork tenderloin, and we used the leftover meat in stir-fry.
- …and the freezer. If I make a big pot of soup or spaghetti sauce, I freeze enough for a future meal right away, so we don’t get burned out trying to finish leftovers (and end up throwing away the last bowl that migrated to the back of the fridge). Making a double batch or just freezing enough for one future meal works better for me than prepping a ton of freezer meals at once. And being able to quickly thaw a meal definitely saves us money on nights when I Cannot Face Cooking.
- Schedule at least one freezer meal a week. I might be a little bit of a freezer meal hoarder, so I have to actually plan to use them. This way, I have a constant cycle of things going in and coming out of the freezer, and if our plans change I can save the freezer meal and still use up our fresh ingredients before things go bad. I keep a magnetic pad of paper on the fridge with a list of what’s in the freezer so things don’t get lost and I can quickly reference it when I’m planning meals.
Plus, this girl asks hundreds of questions a day, but most frequently: “Will you play with me, Mommy?” And it’s good to able to cook in her kitchen instead of mine!
So: bean burritos for dinner, and bean burritos in the freezer! This recipe is from a blog I enjoy – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Since we tried them about two years ago, I’ve almost always had a bag of these burritos in the freezer!
Chop up an onion, jalapeños, and garlic. You might as well buy an avocado and a lime, too, and save some of your veggies for guacamole at dinnertime!
The onions and peppers and cumin smell so good as they start cooking! The first can of beans get mashed, and the second can is left whole for texture. Brown rice and corn make these burritos so hearty and filling, and the green onions added at the end are fresh and crunchy.
And of course – cheese! I like to use whole wheat tortillas, and mine always overflow/explode, but I’m also oddly disappointed if they don’t, like I could have gotten more filling in there….
Jay says he could eat these every day. (He’s the opposite of a freezer meal hoarder. We’re good for each other.)Print
- 2 cups cooked leftover brown rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1-2 jalapeños, diced (I usually remove most of the seeds and membranes, but if you like heat you can leave some in)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 15-oz cans of beans, drained (pinto, black, or a combination)
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 8-10 oz frozen corn (or 1 can of corn, drained)
- 4-6 green onions, chopped (use the white and green parts!)
- 14-16 10” flour tortillas (I use whole wheat)
- 12-16 oz shredded cheese (cheddar, pepperjack, Monterey Jack or a combination)
- Note: if you don’t have leftover rice, start cooking your rice first!
- Heat olive oil in a pot or saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, jalapeños, and garlic with cumin and salt and pepper for a few minutes until softened. Add the tomato paste and cook and stir for a minute.
- Add the first can of beans and mash with a potato masher (or a fork! or your handy meat tenderizer mallet thing!). Stir in the second can of beans and the water and simmer for 10-12 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
- Add corn and cook 2-3 minutes more. Off heat, stir in the rice and green onions.
- To assemble the burritos, warm tortillas slightly in the microwave to make them pliable. Layer on a few tablespoons of cheese and a heaping 1/3 cup of bean filling. Fold the sides in toward the middle and rock the burrito toward you so the filling is concentrated on the side closest to you, then roll the burrito away from you.
- To serve right away, heat the burritos in the microwave to melt the cheese (if you have extra cheese, it never hurts to melt it on top).
- To freeze, place rolled burritos on a pan lined with foil or parchment. Freeze for an hour or so, then place in a freezer bag. To serve frozen burritos, microwave a few minutes, turning the burrito over halfway through, or thaw in the fridge and heat in the oven, wrapped in foil.
Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe