Bean and Grain Bowl

I’ve mentioned that I LOVE to make (eat and share) Bean and Grain Bowls; I’ve said it often enough I assume you know what I mean but in case you don’t allow me to explain.

I try to have at least one type of grain and one type of bean cooked and in the fridge at all times. It doesn’t always happen but it is a goal none the less. I keep a few cans of beans in the pantry too.

I recently had a lunch meeting where lunch was being provided, I didn’t know what would be served but I was certain I wouldn’t be able to eat it. As I was rushing to get ready I stopped and put some cooked quinoa, some rinsed black beans (from a can) and a few tablespoons of salsa in a container. I didn’t even taste test it.

Once I got to the meeting pizza was being served. A friend of mine, who is working toward a Plant-Based diet, was there too; I gave her a taste of my quinoa and bean bowl and she LOOOVED it! She went out and bought the ingredients and made it for her family.

You don’t have to use quinoa and black beans AND it doesn’t have to be in a bowl.

This was made with cooked Barley (not gluten free), pinto beans, and homemade salsa served on a corn tortilla (pictured above). It was very tasty as well. If you are looking for maximum “comfort food” taste without the guilt you can make these nachos, pictured below, using a grain that has been seasoned with Mexican spices. I like to use my homemade taco seasoning, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder, sometimes I’ll add cumin and tomato sauce.

Brown rice, chickpea’s and steamed veggies make a great bowl as well, if you’re looking for more flavor add in your favorite Asian inspired sauce.

Yesterday I even mixed up some beans and grains that stuffed them into bell peppers then stuck them on the grill. One pepper contained my usual quinoa and black beans with corn, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos; but the other was quinoa and lentils.

So let your imagination run wild, as wild as beans and grains can get. Maybe try a different grain every week. I use quinoa a lot but millet  and amaranth are also good options. Some grains like Rye, Wheat, and Barley naturally contain gluten so if you are gluten free you may want to do a little research before trying them.

How To Get It Done

I’m very fortunate and thankful to be a stay-at-home-mom. I love being home with my kids. Occasionally I miss the working world, usually it is when my kids are driving me crazy. My boys do keep me busy during the day, I can’t just stand in the kitchen for hours at a time.

Using this weeks Meal Plan I’m going to give you examples of how I prepare our dinners. I’ll give you a day by day run down of what I’ve done and how it works for us. We primarily use dried beans and grains. If that doesn’t work for you feel free to use canned beans. Dried beans are less expensive so I prefer them. I do keep canned beans in the pantry for those days I don’t plan ahead. Sometimes I do all of the soaking and cooking on the weekend; that approach may work better if you work full time during the week.

Saturday: I put about 3 cups of rinsed quinoa in 6 cups of water to soak over night. You do not have to soak your quinoa but we prefer it this way.  If you don’t know how to cook quinoa check out this link from The Kitchn.

Sunday: I rinsed the quinoa, again you don’t have to do this step but I prefer it this way. I put it in a sauce pan and with new water and cooked it for about 15 minutes. Once it cooled we put some away for my husband to take to work and the rest is stored for meals throughout the week.

On Sunday night I rinsed 2 cups of white beans and 2 cups of red beans and left them both to soak in 4 cups of water each.

Monday: I cooked both set’s of beans in the morning. It will be hard to resist those come lunch time. They could be combined and cooked in a slow cooker as well. This evening I’ll throw the red and white beans into a large pot with all of the other ingredients for Minestrone Soup. While I’m cutting veggies for this soup I may cut extra for tomorrow nights soup as well.

Tuesday: Cook Potato and Broccoli Soup, this could be done in a slow cooker before you left for work. No prep work unless I want to cut veggies for tomorrow nights meal.

Wednesday: I’ll cook a Veggie Noodle Soup. While it is cooking I will rinse black beans and soak them in water over night.

Thursday: I’ll soak beans to use in Friday night’s Chili. I may have enough leftover beans and not need to cook any new beans.

Friday: I’ll cook Chili. Depending on our leftover situation I may start something new soaking. I try to use up all our leftovers over the weekend so I can shop for groceries and plan a new week of meals.

This works for us but may not work for you. Some nights we just grab bean burritos from a drive thou or eat a PB&J.

If you’ve planned your meals for this week try thinking ahead. What can you do now to save time later?