Frugal Family Feast: Red Beans and Rice

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We’re cooking up a hearty New Orleans classic in this week’s Frugal Family Feast. It’s delicious, easy, and will feed a family of four for less than $15.

Red beans and rice is a traditional combination of comfort food that’s packed with flavor. This budget-friendly meal is a snap to prepare and can simmer for a long time on the stove, or makes a perfect candidate for your slow cooker.

Chef Chad Thilborger, author of “Whole Heap of Goodness,” shared his recipe for Red Beans and Rice Pork with Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. Watch them whip up the red beans in this video and read on for the recipe.

Wonderful family meal for less than 15 bucks!

In New Orleans, many families make red beans on Monday. Traditionally, Monday was laundry day, so women used to put a pot of red beans on the stove to simmer all day while they were busy with laundry.

The slow cooking makes the beans tender and creamy, and allows the flavor from the spices and seasonings to fully develop.

Starting with dried red kidney beans is the most affordable way to make this dish, and it’s easy. Place a pound of beans in a large bowl and fill the bowl with water. Leave about 3 or 4 inches of space for the beans to swell up and rehydrate. Drain and rinse the beans when you’re ready to cook.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit… These fiber-filled legumes pack powerful nutrients, but we all know they can be blamed for unpleasant gas. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can reduce the potential bean-related gas, which is caused by indigestible sugars in the beans.

Place a pound of beans in a stockpot with 10 or more cups of water and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover tightly, and set aside overnight. Rinse the beans and 75 to 90 percent of the gas-causing elements will be gone.

Ham and bacon are often used to flavor red beans, and a leftover ham bone is perfect. You can cook these beans on the stove slowly for about 90 minutes, stirring every 25 to 30 minutes. This also the perfect meal to place in a slow cooker. If the beans aren’t the consistency you prefer at the end of cooking, move a couple of cups of beans to a bowl, mash them up, return them to the pot, and mix the creamy beans in.

Red beans can be served with white rice, and are also delicious with brown rice. This is a perfect dish to double and freeze for a quick and affordable meal later.


Red Beans and Rice – Courtesy of Chef Chad Thilborger


1 pound dried red kidney beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
1 pound bacon or 1 pound ham
1 pound of smoked sausage
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Rehydrate beans: Soak beans for at least a few hours, but overnight if you can. Rinse and drain before use. 
  • Prepare seasoning 
  • Cook bacon until done and set aside. Save the grease. 
  • Cook beans 
  • In a large pot, use a couple of teaspoons of bacon grease or oil to sauté onions and peppers for about 5 minutes on medium heat. 
  • Add garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  • Pour 5 cups of water in and add beans. Bring to a boil. After a few minutes of boiling, turn the heat to low. 
  • Add ham or bacon and Cajun seasoning. Make sure the water level is about 2 inches above the beans.
  • Cover and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring every 25 to 30 minutes. 
  • Add cut-up smoked sausage and simmer for 30 more minutes. 
  • Add salt and pepper at end if desired.

If you’re using a slow cooker, rehydrate the beans, add everything to the pot. Initial water level should be 2 inches above beans.  Cook on low for 6 hours. Ladle beans over cooked rice and serve.

After you try the recipe, go to our Facebook page and let us know how you like it!

Stacy Johnson

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