Eating Rice and Beans for the Month of Love

Have I mentioned how awful our Monday Nights are? Yeah, I don't like them.

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For the first couple months of transitioning to Manic Monday evenings, our 2 "big" girls and the parent who took them to dance and gymnastics grabbed fast food between classes. It was the easiest chose, saved me from having to think up and pack something that would last for a couple hours in a picnic bag before eating, allowed us time to grab some groceries in between classes most weeks, and to be honest was kinda fun.

Then Monday, February 1st 2016 happened.

We finished dance class, scurried around the corner to the Dairy Queen, because it was the closest fast food restaurant and the girls had never eaten there before. While staring at the menu trying to decide how to order the cheapest {we often share meals and get waters} I realized one of the main factors we have never eaten there...$$$. I couldn't find a cheap alternative so I chose to 'go big' and get everyone their own meal With drink. WOW! When we finally sat down to eat with little time to spare before having to be back for gymnastics, the girls opened their kids meals to find Mustard and onions on the burgers.

The world as we knew it had apparently shrunk up and therefore ended that night. There was whining, nashing of teeth, pouting, and fit-throwing when I explained that I would help them wipe the mustard and onions off but I wasn't going to take the burgers back. There wasn't time and they needed to learn to be thankful, better yet, GRATEFUL that we were beyond privileged to eating out weekly, especially between our not-so-cheap "extra curricular" that are paid for my their grandparents. {HELLO!}

I was appalled. I couldn't believe I'd created such entitled children. We've gone to extreme measures such as

  • minimizing the number of toys they have, never buying just-because toys
  • paying "commission" for chores to help them learn budgeting as well as having just-because-you-live-here chores
  • doing the 30 hanger challenge along with only buying clothes from consignment events
  • only allowing a single "extra" and only when they're 5 years old
  • having them always share rooms
  • becoming a foster family as a way to serve and open discussion about struggles we may have never known

and the list goes on and on. Where had I gone wrong?! Where was the "thanks for the pricey burger mom!"?

I continued to fume as I took my gymnast to her class and my dancer grocery shopping with me. I text my hubs and angrily announced, "Mags has just earned the family a week of rice and beans. Ungrateful, over-privileged, punk was non-stop complaining about the mustard on her expensive burger."

After talking through the awful night with my hubs, the decision was made to do a month of teaching through rice and beans lunches for a month supplemented with videos about children in 3rd world nations that have to eat this meal, videos about ministries that help these children, and lots and lots of conversations about how privileged we are.

One Month of Rice and Beans for Lunch one families attempt to learn gratitude

Negatives to the month-long lunches of rice and beans:

  • although our children understood the basic idea of why were were doing it, selfishness still exists
  • even with major efforts to make the experience a teachable time, it still ended up feeling like a punishment to the kids
  • our stomachs suffered...I have to admit that the last few days, I had to skip lunch or alter the meal by just eating rice with milk or something to try and finish out the month.
    This isn't the healthiest meal to provide children in poverty but it is the cheapest. 

Positives to the month-long lunches of rice and beans:

  • simple menu planning- we already have the same things, depending on the day of the week for breakfast and similar things for the night of the week for dinner
  • less than 10 minute meal prep- we cooked the rice/water for about 7-8 minutes in our large micro-cooker and the can/can and 1/2 of beans for about 2-3 minutes in our small micro-cooker. {side note: we use these almost daily for lots of recipes including browning our mix'n chopped meat. You can find them HERE.}
  • low grocery bill- we went through 2 large boxes of minute white rice and close to 35 cans of beans {mainly black but some great northern}
  • my kids could Easily help with making lunch
  • no options- there was less and less fussing about what we were having because they just knew what lunch was going to be. They could eat a little of it or a lot of it {I've seen similar effects with scheduling routine meals other times}
  • we all learned how privileged we are- all of us, even parents quickly saw how we were accustomed to having too many options when we didn't feel like eating something
  • we became more grateful for the gazillions of options we have
  • we became more interested in ministries that can help children without our options are are hoping to use money we saved on groceries to support them a little

What are you main concerns with scheduling an intentional rice and beans meal with your family?

 

I found very few simple recipes to try and switch up our lunches during the month of February. Most recipes I found on Pinterest only differed in the way they prepared the rice/bean {ie in a slow cooker or pot on the stove} Our fairly standard recipe was as followed:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white minute rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Tbs garlic pwd
  • 1 tsp onion pwd
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Stir water and rice into large micro-cooker, attach lid, and microwave for 3.5 minutes. Open and stir to reduce overspill. Cook 3.5 minutes until all the rice is soft and water is fully absorbed.
  2. Open can of beans and pore beans into small micro-cooker. Stir in seasonings. Attach lid and microwave 2 minutes or until bean are completely warmed.
  3. Serve

 

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