One of my favorite dinners from my childhood was a big bowl of rice, black beans, salsa, and cheese, or what I call “Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls.” Looking back I don’t know if that was our dinner because we couldn’t afford more, or if my mom didn’t have the energy to make something more complicated, but either way I loved that meal. It’s only a few ingredients, it’s super inexpensive, but somehow still so filling and so delicious!
Originally posted 9-13-2015, updated 11-29-2019.
Why “Poor Man’s” Burrito Bowls?
In the age of Chipotle, when burrito bowls have become layers upon layers of fancy meats, creamy dressings, and crunchy tortilla strips, I’m scaling it back to the basics. No frills, no fancy ingredients, just the bare bones. The only ingredients you absolutely need to feel full and satisfied. And somehow, despite its simplicity, these super basic burrito bowls still make me so happy that my feet wiggle.
Add In Your Leftovers!
Another reason I love these Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls is because it’s a great “sweep the kitchen” meal, or a meal that is versatile enough that you can add in all sorts of leftovers you might have hanging out in your fridge or pantry. Here are some other ingredients that you can add, if you have them on hand, and they need to be used up:
See? You can go as simple or as fancy as you want, but the “Poor Man’s” version, with just rice, beans, cheese, and salsa is all the deliciousness I need. This time around I also added green onion and jalapeño because I seem to always have extras of those in the fridge. :)
Can You Freeze Burrito Bowls?
Yes! These burrito bowls freeze great, so you can fix up a bunch and stash them in the freezer, cheese and all, for busy weeknights. As with any rice dish, it’s important that they are divided and cooled immediately after cooking. Once they are cooled completely in the refrigerator, you can transfer them to the freezer for long term storage.
Poor Man's Burrito Bowls
- 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice ($1.32)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 2 15oz. cans black beans ($0.98)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
- 1 16oz. jar salsa ($2.37)
- 6 oz. shredded cheese* ($1.27)
- 1 bunch green onions ($0.89)
- 1 jalapeño (optional) ($0.15)
- Add the rice, salt, and 3 cups water to a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top, turn the heat on to high, and allow the water to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit, with the lid in place, for an additional five minutes. Fluff just before serving.
- While the rice is cooking, make the beans. Add both cans of black beans (undrained) to a small sauce pot, along with the cumin, and garlic powder. Heat over medium, stirring often, until heated through.
- Slice the green onions and jalapeño (if using).
- Once the rice is cooked, build the bowls. Add one cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup warm black beans, 1/3 cup salsa, and 1 oz. shredded cheese (about 1/4 cup) to each bowl. Top with a few sliced green onions and jalapeños, then serve.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls – Step by Step Photos
Begin the rice first because everything else will be finished by the time the rice is done cooking. Add 2 cups long grain white rice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3 cups water to a sauce pot. Place a lid on top and turn the heat on to high. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, with the lid in place, for an additional five minutes. Finally, fluff with a fork.
While the rice is cooking, season and heat the beans. Add two 15 oz. cans of black beans (undrained) to a sauce pot along with 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Heat over medium, stirring often, until heated through.
Slice a bunch of green onions and one jalapeño (optional). You’ll also need about 6 oz. (weight) shredded cheese (about 1.5 cups).
Then it’s time to build the burrito bowls! Add about 1 cup rice, 1/2 cup beans, and 1/2 cup salsa to each bowl.
Then add about 1 oz. (1/4 cup) shredded cheese, sliced green onion, and sliced jalapeño (if desired). Enjoy!
The heat from the hot rice and beans will usually be enough to melt the cheese, once stirred.