Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice

Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans


I'm not talking about Dave Ramsey, I'm talking about Lent. This year, in solidarity with the poor, our family decided to eat beans and rice for lent. Now, before the the CPS phone calls start, let me preface by saying: We had a lot of exclusions. While we were planning our lent, we established some clarifications and rules. 


1 - Sundays are not included in our “lenten fast”

2 - If someone invited us to eat or hosted our dinner, we were free to eat anything they offered us (including leftovers).

3 - The majority of every lunch and dinner that we cooked had to be comprised of beans and rice. (taco salads don’t count)

4 - We could season in any flavor, but no bread, tortilla, meat, or cheese. Vegetables, broth and animal fats were OK. 

5 - Breakfast could be oatmeal of any fashion.

6 - Snacks can be any fruit or vegetable.

7 - Drinks are not included in the fast, although Michael did also give up alcohol.  

7 - No restriction on quantity. This was not about dieting, but more to break us from our habits of having whatever we want, when we want. 


That being said, Gabby and MJMJ do not like beans and Trinity does not like rice. 


We started off our Lent at my mom’s house. We had a full kitchen available to try out lots of new recipes. (Our favorite was fried rice with edamame and Italian style white beans) This was evidently a surprise. 


“I thought we were having beans and rice for lent!” the kids questioned. They had imagined a Lent with Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice for every meal. 


Overall, it was a great Lent. Here are a few observations: 


  • Bacon grease made the beans great! It was clear that we were going to have to ration our supply. 
  • The dishes were going to be an issue in the bus. We cooked in the beans in the instant pot and rice in a rice cooker. Instead of getting by with sandwiches on paper plates, we were now going to be washing dried up sauce off 2 large pans and 8 bowls each meal - which is a challenge in a small RV sink.  
  • It made meal planning and grocery storage easy. We could easily shop for a week and store all the groceries in the bus. The kids still managed to ask “What’s for dinner?” even tough they knew the answer was going to be “beans and rice.” 
  • It was the right amount of food. We were often hungry about 30 minutes before dinner, but the rice and beans were satisfying without overeating. One pound of beans and one pound of rice was about perfect for our family.  
  • Our fruits and veggie intake increased. I loved that the kids were eating fresh fruits and veggies as snacks - no more graham crackers.
  • It was good to have strict rules. This, more than anything helped keep cravings away. Knowing that it was “off the table” helped us not want things. The hardest days were Saturdays. We would start dreaming of our Sunday filled with pancakes and whipped cream and all the sudden we felt dissatisfied and hungry. Things were easier when we removed the temptation entirely. 
  • We tried to fill the pace with more fruitful activities. Michael always has popcorn with his movies. He almost never watched movies during Lent. Instead, he tried to opt for asking the kids to do an activity with him or to fill the time for spiritual reading.  
  • God had mercy on us toward the end. By the time we got to the last week of Lent, we had a very busy schedule and a lot of our exclusions kicked in. Instead of things getting longer and more difficult toward the end, they were easier. 
  • The feast is better after the fast. The kids did great on this fast and we never caught them trying to cheat. We tried to reward them with a treat on Sunday and a nice Easter basket at the end. 


“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” they all said, but were quick to follow up with, “I mean, I’m not going to do it next year.”