Cost Per Serving: Frugalwoods’ Rice & Beans Plus

Happy Friday! Time for another installment of your favorite recipe cost and flavor ranking series, Cost Per Serving! Today we’ll be looking at the Frugalwoods’ super cheap rice and beans recipe, with one important change!

I cook a lot. Ever since college, I’ve cooked a lot. But that entire time, I don’t think I’ve made rice and beans ONCE. Not once! I know I’ve had it as a side dish made by other people, but when I cook for myself, my mind just never goes there. And I like Latin American food! So when the Frugalwoods’ posted their recipe, I knew I had to try it for myself and see how it stacks up in the ultimate battle of frugal deliciousness!

Rice and Beans Plus (2)

Ingredients for Rice & Beans Plus


Ingredient Cost Size of Package Amount Used Cost Per Unit Cost Per Recipe
Rice $3.39 5 lb 2 cups (0.8 lbs) 0.68 0.54
Black beans 0.89 1 can 3 cans 0.89 2.67
Olive oil 5.99 1 liter 3 tablespoons 0.09 0.27
Shallots 2.49 1 lb 4 (1/3 lb) 2.49 0.83
Garlic 0.69 head 4 cloves 0.06 0.23
Chili paste 1.99 8 oz 4 tablespoons 0.12 0.50
Mushrooms 2.49 12 oz 8 oz 2.49 1.66
Cilantro 1.29 Bunch Bunch 1.29 1.29
 Total $7.99
Servings 10
Cost Per Serving $0.79


Rice and Beans Plus (5)


You’ll notice one difference from Frugalwoods’ recipe: Cilantro. That’s what the “Plus” stands for. Once I really looked at the ingredients list, it seemed short. Rice, beans, garlic, onions, chili sauce… It needs something else. Since I’m going to be making a huge batch of this stuff, and eating it day after day, it needs more something. The last thing I want to turn into is Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 hijacker who hated eating so much, he kept a giant pile of plain mashed potatoes in the fridge and would just eat from that. (I think about this detail more often than I think about 9/11 or terrorism at all)

Bet ya didn’t expect to see a photo of Mohammed Atta in a recipe, did ya?

Not Cilantro

So I added a bunch of cilantro, which added some nice color and flavor. But I made one key mistake. I cut the chili sauce in half. I actually only put in 2 tablespoons. Since I’ve never used that much chili sauce at one time, I was a bit skeptical. It is really spicy stuff, and I’m not big on heat although I do like the flavor of this stuff. But it turns out, in this recipe, you really can use four tablespoons of it. There is just a massive amount of rice and beans to cover.

As I made it, I rate this a 5.5, but with Mr. Frugalwoods’ recommended amount of chili sauce, I’d probably give it a 6, so I’ll go with that. Even so, Marge agreed it was missing something: Acidity. We added vinegar, but what it really needs is lime juice, and we didn’t have a lime. I would probably even put more garlic in it. With some tinkering, this could get a higher rating. It reminded me a lot of a black bean and couscous recipe I used to make a lot, which I’ll be sure to add to this series at some point.

You’ll also notice my price was much higher than the Frugalwoods’ 39 cents per serving. Chalk that up to the cilantro, my more expensive black beans (I actually did buy these at BJ’s during a free membership period, but I am going with my grocery store’s price) and small container of chili paste.  If I do actually get twelve servings like they did, my cost will be 67 cents. But it looks like I’ll be getting only ten servings out of it. That could be wrong, so I’ll amend this if it ends up stretching for longer.

Deliciousness Rating: 6
(Where 1 is gross, 5 is good, and 10 is marzipan)

The standings so far:

Recipe Cost Per Serving Deliciousness
Frugalwoods' Rice & Beans Plus $0.79 6
Curried Yellow Split Pea & Carrot Soup $0.91 7
Curried Pea & Carrot Soup with Linguica $1.32 8
Garden Vegetable Stew $1.61 4
Cod Chowder $2.03 7
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup $2.82 6.5


* The stated deliciousness of each recipe is solely the opinion of the author. Cost is objective, but your tastes may vary.




  1. That’s around the price I figure my rice and beans lunches come in at, so I’ll have to try their recipe and see if I like it as much as my own. But I gotta disagree with you on the cilantro. I think I’m missing some gene that makes cilantro tasty because to me it’s always tasted like soap! Grossest herb ever! =)

    • Norm

      February 6, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Ah, you’re one of those people! I like cilantro when it’s included with a lot of other ingredients. Too much of it and I start to get the weird taste you describe. I wouldn’t eat it on its own.

  2. Yum! I need to start making this a regular meal in our household.

  3. Awesome–thanks for giving it a spin! Glad you enjoyed it :). Lime and cilantro would be tasty, I agree. We’ll probably stick without them for the $ savings, but those flavors are delicious.

    We really love the heat from all of the chili paste too–beware that it tends to get spicier the longer it sits in the fridge, so Friday’s lunches usually pack a nice punch :).

  4. Hah! I had exactly the same thoughts when I saw the Frugalwoods recipe.

    Here was my take on it in case you missed it:


    • Norm

      October 1, 2015 at 6:40 am

      I do remember seeing it. I’ll admit, I use the Frugalwoods recipe as a jumping off point all the time, but change the beans, or add vegetables, herbs or whatever. You can make lots of changes and keep it cheap.

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