Your grocery store’s bulk bins are a treasure trove if you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget. Not only is it a great place to find spices and herbs for pennies on the dollar compared to their packaged counterparts, but you can also find things like nuts, grains, and beans for much less. The latter are one of my personal bulk bin staples.
Dried beans are not only less expensive than their canned cousins, but they are also better for you because they don’t come packaged in salt and preservatives. Cheaper and better for you? Score!
I must admit, dried beans do take a bit of forethought to include in a meal, but a small amount of meal planning fixes that quickly. Also, I like to keep a container of cooked beans, typically black beans, on hand in the fridge regularly as I will frequently throw them in a salad, toss them with pasta, or whatever I might be in the mood for, such as these tostadas. So I typically will cook up 1/2 cup or more black beans each week and store them in my fridge.
For this recipe, I started the night before by bringing 1/4 cup of dried black beans to a boil in 1 cup of water. I covered the pot and let it cook on medium-low for 45 minutes. Then I drained the beans, transferred them to a container, covered them with new water, covered the container and put it in the fridge overnight.
Recall that for just under $36, I bought a rotisserie chicken and ingredients to make enough meals for one for a week. For my third meal, I went south of the border, mixing the chicken with the cooked black beans, tomatoes and spices then layering them on corn tortillas with some lettuce and blue cheese leftover from the Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps and topping them with half of that avocado I bought.
This entire meal takes maybe 15 minutes with prep, so it makes for a great weeknight meal. Plus, the recipe makes enough for 2 very generous and filling tostadas. Since I am now cooking for just one, I was able to eat one for dinner and have the other for lunch the next day.
What is your favorite bulk bin buy?
Recap of a week of meals from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, all for a total of just $35.75 in groceries:
- Meal 1: pieces of rotisserie chicken breast with roasted root vegetables (serves 1)
- Meal 2: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 1)
- Meal 3: Black and Blue Chicken Tostadas (serves 2)
- Prep for additional meals: Homemade Chicken Stock (yields 22 cups)
- Meal 4: Budget Roasted Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup (serves 6)
- Meal 5: Chicken and Black Bean Chili (serves 4)
- Serves: 2
- Serving size: 1 tostada
- Calories: 304.7
- Fat: 12.7
- Saturated fat: 3.1
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1.6
- Carbohydrates: 30.7
- Sugar: 2.9
- Sodium: 250.2
- Fiber: 12.7
- Protein: 21.8
- Cholesterol: 45.6
- ¼ cup dried black beans
- 1 cup water
- 2 corn tortillas
- 1 cup shredded chicken, loosely packed
- ½ cup diced tomatoes, no salt added, with juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¾ cup shredded butter lettuce
- ½ California avocado, sliced
- ½ oz. crumbled blue cheese
- Bring the beans to a boil in the water. Reduce to medium-low, cover and let cook for 45 minutes. Drain, put the beans in a container, cover them with "new" water, cover the container and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- In a small pan on medium heat, combine the cooked black beans (drained), chicken, tomatoes, garlic, buffalo sauce and cumin. Let cook for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
- Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes on each side until crispy.
- Top each tortilla with the lettuce followed by the chicken-bean mixture, avocado slices, and blue cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.