Stretch Your Food Budget with Pinto Bean and Corn Recipes

Folks on limited budget should know that they can stretch their food pennies with a tasty, nutritious combination of pinto beans and corn. These nutritious recipes can be made for pennies per meal.


| January/February 1972



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Pinto beans, cornbread, tomatoes, onions and milk make a nutrionally complete meal.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Folks on limited budgets should know that they can stretch their food pennies with a tasty, nutritious combination of pinto beans and corn. Such a diet is not the marginal bill of fare you might imagine, either. Rather, as generations of poor people throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States have proven, it can supply a fair amount of the body's daily requirements of vitamins and minerals and a goodly portion of the necessary proteins.

Neither beans nor corn alone, of course, is such a complete food because neither is a complete protein. Beans, however, contain all the essential amino acids but one, methionine, which just happens to be the amino acid that corn does have. Together, a mixture of two parts corn and one part beans is almost equal in protein quality to fresh milk. Add some fruits and vegetables to supply the vitamins and minerals that beans and corn lack and top with some real milk, and you've got a fairly well-balanced diet that is both tasty and very economical. The further addition of fresh wheat germ and an occasional egg should round this menu off a lot closer to nutritionally perfect than the "average" American diet without raising the total cost too many pennies.

Now I'm not recommending that everyone completely switch from sirloin steaks, or even hamburger, to a morning, noon and night diet of pinto beans and corn. However, when money's short or you're trying to save every extra nickel for the down-payment on that farm, it is nice to know that a regular substitution of corn and beans for a meat dish can spin the old budget out by a rather large factor.

For instance, in New Mexico—where pinto beans are dryfarmed in semi-arid fields—they may be purchased in bulk at minimal cost. Even after the beans are shipped half-way across the country, they usually sell at a super-low price of 15-20¢ per pound (less than 10¢ a day per person) that will fit almost anybody's food budget. (I bought 10 pounds of bulk mixed beans in West Virginia recently for only 10¢ a pound.—JS) Dry corn is just as inexpensive, making the combination much more economical than meat, milk or any other source of protein.

The following traditional recipes from the southwestern section of this country will rapidly introduce you, if you need an introduction, to both dried corn and pinto beans.

Bean Recipes

Pinto beans, or frijoles as they're called in Mexico, can be prepared in a variety of mouth-watering ways. They should always be cooked a long time at a low temperature (that's the secret of making them tasty). An earthenware pot is best for this cooking method but a metal kettle can also be used with success.





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