You can get tired of chicken — You know those kids who refuse to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and ketchup? The best way to break them of it is to give it to them full force. Make them eat that chicken every day. Every day.
You can resist the “Dinner and a Movie” Trap — That date format is always troubling to me. Which comes first — dinner or movie? Either your stomach growls through a 7:00 show or you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the film because of all the sweet tea you drank at the Olive Garden. Our apartment is fun. We have dates there sometimes, and you don’t miss anything when you go to the bathroom.
You can buy things that last longer than cheeseburgers — Example: We purchased Cassandra the Wal-Mart Bike with the extra money we saved this month. There’s nothing better than only filling up your gas tank once a month because you do all your commuting on two wheels. Gas prices are a little unmanageable right now, even for folks who don’t have a budget quite as tight as ours. Cheeseburgers are ephemeral; bikes are not.
Place mats can be more than place mats — We eat on them, and I decorate with them. Well, I don’t decorate very well with them, but they sure do make our plain coffee table look nicer.
You can lean into the budget item you like the most — The bulk of our budget goes to rent and grocery store food. The rest is super skimpy. No TV, one car (that only gets used twice a week), and no buying clothes. We like to eat well, and we’re fine letting go of other creature comforts so long as we can eat meals other than beans and rice every night.
Don’t think we’re against beans and rice. We’re not. To prove it, here is our Ultimate Beans and Rice recipe that we eat at least once a week:
- 2 cans black beans
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked, white rice
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar (quite possibly my all-time favorite ingredient)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
Cook the rice (we use a rice cooker so it comes out perfect every time) and set aside. Drain beans and scoop into heavy pan. Add bell pepper, garlic, red wine vinegar, and ground cumin. Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium high, or until cooked through. Add some salt and pepper and serve over rice.
So simple. This is one of the cheapest meals we know how to make — and it’s also something we look forward to. Double win.