Spanish Rice ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

I love how versitile this recipe is. Have a little bit of cooked chicken or beef to use up? Throw it into the pot! Want black beans instead of meat? Perfect. Don’t want any meat or beans at all? Leave them out.

Sometimes I like to stir in one cup of sour cream if I have it. That raises the cost of this meal, so adding the sour cream only happens if I have some that I need to use up. Also, the corn is optional. I love the sweetness that it adds, but two of my boys prefer it without the corn.

Confused yet? Don’t worry. Here’s the actual “recipe”  – but just know that this one lends itself to a lot of flexibility. Do with it what works best for cleaning out the leftovers in your fridge. Or make it depending on what you’re hungry for at the moment. No matter how you make it, you’ll be serving a healthy meal without spending much money!

Spanish Rice

3 cups water or broth
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups salsa
1 cup cooked chicken, cooked ground beef, or black beans
1 cup frozen corn

Boil water. Add rice, stir, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add salsa, chicken, and corn.  Cook on medium heat until warmed through and through.

Serves 6



Dollar Menu Cost BreakDown:

Spanish Rice = $5.35* which divides to 89¢ per person. I typically serve this with fruit, so the additional cost will vary depending on what is served with the Spanish Rice. If I serve it with applesauce that I made from free apples – the cost is practically free. If I serve it with smoothies from frozen berries and yogurt or kefir, the prices is going to be a bit more.

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

What would be your favorite add-ins to this meal?  Chicken or beef are my favorites, but I’m a meat lovin’ girl, so that probably comes as no surprise. :)



  1. Linda says

    That sounds good! I have cut back on rice lately, though, since the arsenic in rice thing came out.



    Angie Reply:

    We have cut way back on rice too. Anyone else have any thoughts on it? Even organic rice isn’t safe from what I understand. Is that correct?


    anonymous Reply:

    I have also been concerned about rice after reading the latest Consumer Reports. I feel that I can trust Lundberg brand, though. For one thing, I believe a large part of the problem came from rice grown in fields in the south that were formerly cotton fields and were heavily sprayed. I looked at the response to this latest research on the Lundberg website, and here is one thing they had to say:

    “We have been sending samples to an independent outside lab to measure the levels of arsenic in our products. Our preliminary results satisfy us that our rice is safe, and falls well below the limits of concern that multiple health agencies around the world have discussed.”

    Reading this made me feel more confident in using this brand. Also, they stated that they are taking many steps to do even more testing of their product to check the arsenic levels. You can read more about this on their website under “current events”.


    Kristin Reply:

    Thank you both for alerting me of this problem. I found a comprehensive article about rice and arsenic from consumer reports.

    Turns out that arsenic is not only a problem in rice, but fruit, juice and vegetables as well. It was disheartening to hear that rice growers didn’t feel that feel arsenic pose any health risks and we all know the USDA listens to industry lobbyists rather then scientists with actual data linking arsenic to cancer. It also seems like virtually all rice is affected, brown rice the worst. In the meantime, it suggested limiting consumption of rice/rice products and grape juice as well as using the following rice cooking method:

    Change the way you cook rice. You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic content.


    Kristin Reply:

    Ignore the previous alternative cooking method for reducing arsenic in rice. My husband, a PHD in electrical engineering with a strong background in materials science, says arsenic cannot be rinsed away with water nor will it leach out into water when cooked. In fact, he said, heat actually drives arsenic into objects. He further states that arsenic is most dangerous in its gaseous state. He didn’t feel there was enough flawless scientific research to prove that ingesting 5 parts per million of arsenic through rice was a serious threat. (for example: the Chileans exposed to arsenic studied were also cigarette smokers) Regardless, since I average cooking rice once a month or less, I’m not going to be concerned.

    Kristin Reply:

    Sorry, I meant 5 parts per BILLION wasn’t a serious threat.

    weddingdance Reply:

    I’ve heard that if you rinse the rice before cooking, it washes the arsenic off. Could be true…


  2. Lyndsay says

    My hubby and oldest don’t like salsa, so I would probably do some diced tomatoes and taco seasoning instead :) I love this idea to use leftovers. I think it would taste yummy with shredded cheese on top!


  3. Andrea says

    I do this but I use chunks for tomatoes that I’ve canned and use the juice from that instead of extra water. Most of the time I serve this with a few chips (tortilla mostly) and a bit of cheese on top. It’s super filling! :)


  4. Janine says

    I do this often. After cooking rice I usually stir in beans, salsa and cheese and serve it in tortillas! So easy and delicious! I love all your easy recipes that are healthy and use ingredients I have on hand. Thank you!


  5. Kati says

    I love simple recipes like this! Looking forward to more recipes in this ‘series’. Trying this one tonight! Thanks!


  6. Janet says

    My boys are coming home from college today and I was wondering what to have for dinner. I think I just found it. Thanks for the recipe! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


  7. Sherri says

    making this now for lunch!! thank you , Heavenly Homemakers for an easy lunch with easy ingredients!! especially since my cupboards resemble , Mother Hubbards. Pretty empty… I NEED to go grocery shopping soon.


  8. Kymberly Lynch says

    I’d saute some onion first in left over bacon grease if I have some on hand and maybe some diced carrot before adding stock and cooking the rice. Than black beans and diced green chilies. I think my eaters would prefer the rice in the side and on the cob :) If I wanted to make it a dinner I’d toss it all in a casserole and top with cheese and bake. What a nice inexpensive meal either way you make it.


  9. Dione says

    We eat this often. It is a great way to use up scraps of meat. I will cook up extra dry beans if making chili to save for this as well. With all of the canning we do the rice is the only thing we have to purchase so this really helps the food budget at our house.


  10. Dione says

    Oh, along these lines I do a taco lasagna. I mix equal parts cooked rice and beans with homemade taco seasoning. I put a layer of tortillas, then a layer of rice/bean mix, a layer of corn (I use home canned), a layer of tomatoes (I use home canned), a thin layer of sharp cheddar cheese (using sharp requires less cheese with the same flavor), I then do another layer of each in the same order. Cook at 350* for 30 to 40 min. You can top with any taco toppings you have on hand or eat as is. Cheap way to feed a crowd.


  11. Deja A says

    Looks yummy. But authentic Spanish rice is a different, equally low ingredient recipe. You first sauté the rice in oil, basically toasting it. Then you add chicken broth (2 cups rice/4 cup broth) and a small can of tomato sauce. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. THEN you add in your extra ingredients. I live in TX…I make this every week :-)


  12. DeAnne Norton says

    I’m vegan so only beans for me :) but a great way to get this on the table even faster is to batch cook the rice – either just make a bunch at once when you cook it for something else or you can cook it in the oven in larger batches and then freeze in baggies. Then just defrost, add salsa, corn, beans (or whatever) and BAM! you have a meal in minutes


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *