When Teacher Man and I were first married, I thought I could cook; and I guess I could. I could follow a recipe, but I had no confidence substituting and tweaking recipes to fit our tastes and budget. I also didn't know much about cooking on a budget. Don't get me wrong. I didn't grow up eating filet mignon, but I never actually thought about how meal choices could help a family save money.
Seven months into our marriage, I found out I was pregnant. I was working at a Christian school teaching, Dave was a junior in college, and we had no idea how we were going to make life work. We lived in student housing in a tiny two-room apartment and had very few expenses, but I knew a baby would change that. A friend suggested that we check out WIC, which I had never even heard of before that moment. It's a government program that provides a few healthy meal staples to pregnant women and children under 5. We were definitely eligible, and I started taking my WIC checks to the store and getting milk, cheese, beans, peanut butter, juice, and cereal.
The beans started taking over my cupboard since I had no idea how to cook beans, what to do with them when they were cooked, or even if I liked beans. I'm pretty sure my dad doesn't really care for them so I didn't eat them growing up. But with our surplus began my adventure in learning to cook beans. Man, did that save our budget!
Now I can't keep beans stocked! Right now there's a pot of delicious-smelling chicken tortilla soup in the crockpot (I add black beans to extend the soup without compromising on protein.). I make black beans and rice (just typing this makes my mouth water) with a whole foods recipe. I also use Deceptively Delicious recipes that put garbanzo beans in chocolate chip cookies and macaroni and cheese. These are just a few of the ways that we've made beans a regular part of our culinary experience.
I've had requests for some of my beans recipes so I'll try to post more in the future. For now, enjoy Chicken Tortilla Soup tonight. So yummy and SO easy!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 jar salsa (pick your spice level)
1 can corn, undrained,
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can chili beans, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 small cans tomato sauce
2-3 chicken breasts, trimmed (can be put in frozen, thank goodness)
Cook on Low 8-10 hours, then serve with corn chips, shredded cheese, and even sour cream. We also make a pan of cornbread. YUM!