Travel Food: Saving Money One Burrito At a Time

A collection of pantry storage jars with the ingredients for burritos
I wish my kitchen was this clean and photogenic  

If you have ambitions of further-flung travel, then saving money is probably a big deal for you. Plane tickets are not cheap! Even budgetarian travel styles, like backpacking and road trips, can be expensive due to a longer period of travel. Thus, if travel is a high priority, you probably are also looking at what expenses you can eliminate in your day to day life. 

I live a pretty frugal life. One of the main places I have learned to cut costs is at the grocery store. Sometimes, however,  I spend what I could be saving at restaurants or on fast food. This is especially true if I’m extra tired or busy. The magic bullet to this problem is keeping easy, portable, and appetizing home-cooked food on hand in case of an emergency. 

Enter stage right: homemade frozen burritos. Make them in a bulk batch once a month, roll them individually in tin foil, freeze, and voila! I guarantee your cravings for take out will decrease by 50%. At least. They also make great bag lunches for work or a car friendly dinner on the go. 

This recipe utilizes super cheap, super ubiquitous staples like dried black beans, rice, salsa, and tortillas. Even the taco seasoning is homemade. Using a slow cooker minimizes time actually spent in the kitchen. You can use whatever leftover veg you have around to give it pizazz. 

How cheap are these Burritos?

The base ingredients, not including spices, cost this much for me at Aldi in January, 2022:

Black beans $2.85  (pinto beans are $1.99)

Large tortillas $2.15 

White Rice $2.55

Jar of Salsa $2.45

Chicken bullion $1.99 (you can sub chicken or vegetable stock if you prefer)

You might also be able to find those main ingredients at a dollar store for cheaper.

My add-ins cost this much at Aldi:

Brick of cheddar cheese $2.19

1 large avocado   $0.85

Green peppers    $2.45

I did not include spices in this list. If you don’t have them, that adds an additional $4 to $5 dollars to your shopping trip. 

Based on this, one set of ingredients would cost about $11.99 before the add-ins. ($17.48 including the add-ins.) Each batch makes about 8 servings and constitutes a full meal. (fun fact, any grain plus any legume gives you a complete set of proteins, and beans are a great source of fiber.) So, these burritos cost about $1.50 per meal. (2.19 with add-ins) Keep in mind however, that If you buy a second pack of tortillas, there is enough here to make a second batch from the leftover pantry ingredients, which nearly halves the cost per meal. 


Hang with me for the actual instructions. I’m not used to actually measuring while I'm cooking. I developed this system without any recipes or instructions, so it might feel like the wild west. But that's okay, because cooking is about putting your own twist into things. 


1 and ½ cup dry black beans, give or take

2 cups dried rice, give or take

1 jar of salsa

2 bullion cubes. 

Large tortillas


Garlic powder

Onion powder

Chili powder or red chilli flakes, to taste

Neutral cooking oil 

Suggested add ins: cheese, chorizo, tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, jalapenos, corn, eggs, cilantro, a touch of citrus 

Frugal Bean Burrito Recipe:

Taco Flavored Beans

  1. Measure out …lets say 1 and ½  cups of dry black beans, making sure to check for anything that isn't a bean. No need to soak your beans this time. Put them in your crock-pot, with 1 bullion cube. Add in enough water to cover the beans, plus a smidge more to account for evaporation during cooking.

  2. To make taco seasoning: Add in about a teaspoon of cumin, and some amount less than that of garlic and onion powder. Add chili powder, depending on your spice preference. You may also add a pinch of paprika, if you like, for additional red color. And your taco seasoning to the crock pot. 

  3. Cook for a few hours, until the beans are soft. This will vary depending on your crock-pot and the heat level. Make sure the beans do not dry out.

Easy Spanish Rice

  1. Half an hour before the beans are done, lightly toast 2 cups of your rice in a neutral oil. I recommend using a pot with a lid so that you can cook the rice in the same container. 

  2.  Add a bullion cube, half to two thirds a cup of salsa, and enough water to cover the rice by half an inch. Bring to a boil while covered. Once it has been boiling for a minute, turn the heat off and let the rice finish cooking. 

Assemble the Burrito

  1. Set a large tortilla on top of a rectangle of tin foil. I don’t need to explain how to load a burrito. (I hope?) Don’t forget your add-ins!

  2. Repeat step one until you run out of tortillas. Freeze, and re-heat as needed by unwrapping and microwaving. I have frozen them for a month and a half this way, and they still tasted great. 

Let me know what you think about my frugal bean burritos. What add-ins do you recommend?


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