Protein Power for Pennies

If you’ve got sticker shock at the grocery store, you are certainly not alone. Consumers are grappling with sharply higher prices nearly everywhere, thanks to soaring inflation rates. One of the best ways to soothe your wallet and your waistline is to swap beans for beef. Beans are delicious, nutritious, hearty, and filling. They can feed a crowd, make awesome leftovers, and are incredibly cheap.

Beans are the rock stars of the frugal foodie world because of their versatility (use them for a protein boost in salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and as a dip). There’s no need to soak the dried variety overnight if you want a quick meal: Simply buy the no-salt-added canned beans, rinse, and eat. What makes beans so super healthy? Here’s the breakdown on 1 cup of pinto beans:

There are a whopping 15 grams of fiber in one cup, as well as 15 grams of protein. They are unique among plant foods due to their high protein content. Beans are low in fat (1 gram) and calories (245 calories per cup). Beans are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and folate.

Dr. Janet’s Vegetarian Chili


  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) no salt black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) no salt kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup chunky salsa (medium or hot depending on preference)
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups meatless ground burger (found in the frozen foods section of some supermarkets)
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cheddar cheese, very sharp, shredded, optional


In a large soup pot, sauté green pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for the cheese, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with a tablespoon of cheddar cheese.

Tip: Serve over brown rice accompanied with light tortilla chips.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1⁄10th of the recipe or 1½ cups chili)

Nutrition per serving: Calories: 186, Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 854 mg, Carbohydrate: 33 g, Dietary Fiber: 9 g, Sugars: 9 g, Protein: 12 g

Related Articles