Top

Dinner Recipe: Beans + Rice with Fritos & Cheese

This meal is my favorite. It goes on every single backpacking trip. I never get tired of it. Clients love this recipe. Need more convincing to try it?

Key Stats

  • Recommended meal weight: 5.7 oz
  • Total calories: 675
  • Calories per ounce: 117

Few individuals have struggled to consume the entire meal, but if you have a small appetite you may, in which case I would recommend holding out on some of the beans or rice. If you want to increase calorie count or caloric density, add more Fritos.

Ingredients

Meal ingredients

Meal ingredients

Clockwise from cheese in upper right: Cheese, taco seasoning, rice, refried beans, and Fritos

Clockwise from cheese in upper right: Cheese, taco seasoning, rice, refried beans, and Fritos

At-home preparation

For groups, I do the following:

  • Each group member is given one 2.5-oz snack bag of beans and rice mixture
  • Fritos and cheese are kept together, and divided proportionally in the field
  • Meals are individually seasoned with the taco seasoning and group spice kit

When solo, I do one of two things. If I plan to have this meal several times on the same trip (or the same leg of a thru-hike), I have a pre-spiced snack bag of beans and rice for each meal, and my supply of Fritos and cheese is kept together but preferably somehow delineated so that I don’t steal tomorrow’s calories for tonight’s dinner, e.g. divide the block of cheese equally but keep it all together. If I plan to have this meal just once, I will use up to three bags (beans/rice, cheese, Fritos) but I’ve also combined everything into one bag before. It works out okay since the ingredients are fairly easy to separate in the field.

Recommended packaging system. For solo hikers, the left three bags. For groups, everything to the right of the bag of Fritos.

Recommended packaging system. For solo hikers, the left three bags. For groups, everything to the right of the bag of Fritos.

Cooking instructions

For many reasons, I make all of my meals soupy. This simplifies some the cooking:

  1. Add at least 12 oz of water to my stove pot.
  2. Pour in beans, rice, taco seasoning, and any other spices at anytime.
  3. Cook, ideally to a simmer for about 60 seconds, stirring to avoid boil-over.
  4. Cut cheese into dice-sized pieces and add to meal.
  5. Add Fritos just before consumption. If added too early, they will soften.

For perfect at-home consistency, use 10 oz (300 ml) of water. To prevent burning, do not add beans, rice, and taco seasoning until water is boiling.

Perfect at-home consistency, with cheese and Fritos

Perfect at-home consistency, with cheese and Fritos

A soupy version of Beans & Rice. With enough water, it becomes more of a tortilla soup. For more conventional consistency, use only 10 oz (300 ml) of water.

A soupy version of Beans & Rice. With enough water, it becomes more of a tortilla soup. For more conventional consistency, use only 10 oz (300 ml) of water.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which helps to support this website.

48 Responses to Dinner Recipe: Beans + Rice with Fritos & Cheese

  1. Rusty March 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Sounds yummy! To reduce mold on the cheese, try not to get your fingerprints on it. Wrapping the cheese in plastic wrap helps reduce mold/air interaction. If you buy too much cheese, it can be frozen for future use.Keep the recipes coming, ‘Alton’ 🙂

  2. Sterling Hada March 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    What’s the cooking time? I love the simplicity of one pot meals, and have long been an advocate of them.

    • Andrew Skurka March 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      It does not need to be brought to a boil, but I find that a simmer up to about 60 seconds will reduce post-cooking wait time and ensure thoroughly cooked rice.

  3. Todd March 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Sounds good. I too make my food soupy/saucy. Have you ever tried basmati rice rather than Minute Rice? Look in the Asian/Indian food section. It tastes WAAYYY better than minute rice and cooks very quickly (compared to regular raw rice). I will bring my rice dishes to a boil and then let set in a pot cozy for 15 minutes. Cooks fine. Would probably be done even sooner.

    • Todd March 5, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      So I tried it yesterday. Had some dehydrated refried beans left over from last summer. I made a half recipe with equal amounts of beans and rice (basmati) and one cup of water. Substituted plain tortilla chips for Frijtos. Didn’t have taco seasoning so I made my own (cumin, paprika, cayenne). Was a bit thick, next time will use more water. Rice cooked great.

  4. Scott T March 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    Andrew, this sounds great. I have made a similar dish with knorr Spanish rice and beans packets, plus chipotle cheddar cheese and spicy peanuts. I have never used the dehydrated refried beans and look forward to trying this. Now I am thoroughly pumped for the spring and for many backpacking trips. As an avid skier, I was dismayed to wake up to temps in the mid 40s and light rain washing away the wonderful snowpack we got in the Northeast this winter. Fortunately reading some of your blog has me renewed and ready for warmer seasons. Thanks Andrew!

  5. Tara March 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    You had me with the Fritos – I’m putting this one on my list for our next trip. Thanks.

  6. Joe March 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    I’ve recently learned I am gluten intolerant and have been wondering what sort of backpacking meals I could come up with to replace my old staples of ramen and pasta sides. This will be a great addition! I’ll just have to be careful with the taco seasoning I use.

  7. Matt March 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Now I’m curious… do you think you could do this all as a boil-in-bag (adding the Fritos just before eating) if you let it set a little while rather than cooking it in a pot. I use an MSR reactor and for simplicity’s sake like to just boil water in it v. cook (I hate doing dishes).

    Great recipes! Please keep ’em coming.

    P.S. – I imagine this would taste even better with chili-cheese Fritos!!

    • Rob March 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      I’m positive you can do it freezer bag style. Fool around with it at home, but about a 2 to 1 ratio of water to rice and about 10 minutes sitting should be good. More water if you want it soupy

    • Andrew Skurka March 4, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

      Chili-flavored Fritos are relatively toxic compared to the Original — look at the ingredients list.

      This is an easy meal to clean out of a pot. Add some water, clean the pot with your fingers, and either disperse the grey water or drink it. That’s better than eating out of a plastic bag and then carrying that plastic bag around for the rest of your trip, IMHO.

      • Matt March 4, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

        Not to fault your logic Mr. Skurka, but… don’t you still have to carry the bag you brought all the ingredients in around with you anyway? Just sayin’. You certainly are correct about the chill-cheese Fritos though, I’ll be sure to leave them home if I ever have the pleasure to book an excursion with you, so as not to offend anyone’s nutritional sensibilities. 😉

        • Rob April 6, 2015 at 8:25 am #

          Tried this yesterday at home, freezer bag style. 10 ounces of water, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Consistency was good, but 12 ounces of water would have been fine. Very tasty! Going on the Rae Lakes loop with me in August!

  8. Brian March 4, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    These things work well for transporting cheese.

    http://www.beeswrap.com/products/bees-wrap-single-medium

  9. Amytys March 4, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Pre-cook and dehydrate REAL rice from your local oriental store. I recommend Nishiki. Way more fuel in that than minute rice, for sure.

  10. Preston Smith March 4, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    I’m hiking the Na Pali Coast next week and this might be on the menu… yum.

    • Steve sims March 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

      If no one here has ever been on the kalalau trail it is a must see. Many people I know who have been around the world consider the napali coast among the most spectacular sites to see. Check it out!

      • Preston Smith March 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

        I’m super excited, packed and ready!

  11. Doug Swam March 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    This recipe passed the test at our house. I made this for the family at home tonight and everyone loved it! I substituted regular white rice as I always do on the trail. I brought the water to a boil with the rice already added, reduced the flame to a simmer for 60 seconds and then removed from heat and wrapped with a towel to insulate and sit for 20 minutes.

    It’s really great that you’re publishing some of your meal planning and recipes Andrew! My attempts to reverse-engineer your meals hasn’t always panned out.

    — “Swammie”

  12. Melissa April 6, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    This was very, very tasty. Cooked it up in my SP 700 over my Fancee Feest alcohol stove (top burner for a smaller diameter pot…found Fancy Feast stove was inefficient for a pot the diameter of the SP 700) in just 5 mins. Into the cozy it all went, then cheese, and then Fritos when ready. Great! This one is coming with me on the JMT this summer.

  13. Monique August 29, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I have been loving dehydrated quinoa instead of rice. It dehydrates quickly and rehydrates in a heartbeat. Good protein source.

  14. Andrew October 21, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    Some general thoughts for other people trying this out

    Works awesome as a freezer bag meal. 12 oz of water gets it pretty thick, which is preferable for freezer bags to avoid tragic spillage. Takes about 5-8 minutes to rehydrate and doesn’t require boiling water. I’m a fan of adding a bit of extra garlic powder and cumin as well when I’m bagging them up.

    A roughly even mix of the Santa Fe refried and the Harmony House whole pinto is a nice textural contrast, and gets lots of good beaney goop along with whole beans.

    I’ve found little single serving extra sharp cheddar at a few places, most recently and easily available is at Sheetz gas stations. They have little flat 2oz packages of cheese (real cheese, not cheese food) that last a long time in the woods.

    This is easily my favorite backpacking meal ever, and it’s super simple and inexpensive. After I accidentally dumped 3 oz of olive oil onto myself, I’m all about the meals that don’t involve the oil calorie boost.

  15. Carter Owens November 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    My girlfriend, her father and I gave this recipe a shot on the second night of a two night section of the AT in Georgia. It was cold and rainy all day and night, and this raised our spirits big time after a long day of elevation changes. No wonder it’s a favorite – would recommend it to anyone, as it is not only satisfying but requires extremely simple prep. I bet it would go great with summer sausage as well, if your diet permits. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Nick Jensen March 2, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    We loved this meal on a 5-day trip in the Sierra last summer. However we made a big mistake prepackaging the Fritos into ziploc bags to portion them out for two meals. The Fritos infused their flavor into all of our other food. Have you ever dreamed of eating an oreo that tastes like salty corn? Well, let me tell you it’s not good. I’d recommend keeping the Fritos separate from all other food or stored in some kind of bag that doesn’t release odors.

  17. Matt Swider April 6, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    I am considering this recipe instead for a 10 day trip with our Boy Scout troop. I am thinking more than a day or two on the trail with regular cheese is not a great idea (especially with teens) so I am interested in substituting cheese powder. Can anyone provide how much powder would be used in this recipe, and would you change the amount of water?

    • Andrew Skurka April 6, 2016 at 8:14 am #

      When I ran 7-day guided trips, this meal would be our first and our last meal, on nights 1 and 6. No problems at all with the shelf-stability of the cheese, and I wouldn’t blink about taking it out for a few extra days beyond that. The exterior of the cheese will get oily, but it should not spoil. I would recommend a hard cheese (e.g. very sharp cheddar) rather than a softer cheese like Monterey.

      • Matt Swider April 6, 2016 at 9:57 am #

        Awesome, thanks for the quick response Andrew!

  18. doug April 28, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    Looks good! I’ll try it with dehydrated canned black beans and dehydrated cooked basmati..

  19. doug April 28, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

    PS Nick the good bags for containing odour are Opsak.

    https://www.amazon.ca/Aloksak-Opsak-Barrier-Bags-9X10-3Pk/dp/B0012RK0M8

  20. ErinG May 4, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    This was great! I just did an at home trial of it to make sure it would pass muster of the picky eaters in the family and it did! I made it a little thicker and loved it.

  21. Ben August 14, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for the great ideas. First time taking a larger group out on a trip (~16 people). Can I cook 2 larger batches for everyone, or would you recommend keeping to smaller individual batches in their own pots?

    • Andrew Skurka August 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

      That’s a lot of beans & rice in a pot! It would work, but someone will need to stand by and stir to avoid splatter. Be careful of burning the ingredients to the bottom of the pot, just as you would at home.

      As Doug said, this meal needs to be simmered some in order to cook fully. It will not work well if you simply boil water in group pots, then decant the hot water into individual bowls with the beans/rice mixture. Everyone will end up with crunchy rice, and maybe not enough heat leftover to melt the cheese.

      • Ben August 14, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

        Thanks to both of you for the prompt replies. Looks like I will have to cook several smaller batches or have some of the scouts can bring smaller burners for some individual batches to supplement.

  22. doug zdanivsky August 14, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    This one you need to simmer and cook to completion I found.. ie. it’s not one you can just boil the water and add to individual mugs filled with one serving’s worth (GSI fairshare is what we use). So we cooked 2 servings to completion (gotta stir constantly to avoid splatter) then divided into individual mugs.

  23. Evan W. Malina September 11, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    Hmm just weighed everything out and by volume – the beans are taking up at least 2x more volume… Think this might be SUPER bean heavy

  24. SusanS September 26, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

    Have used this on the trail. Very good. Made even better in the first or second day with some cherry tomatoes brought along if you ar inclined.

  25. Rich(uk) September 27, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    Great posts, enjoying and learning.
    thanks
    Rich(uk)

  26. Shawn K. September 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Vegetarian Frito Pie is a similar meal that was our quick dinner option on a three week trip through Alaska last year. One tip: we never found real corn chips like Fritos in Canada. Lots of tortilla chips, though. They work, but tend to break down much faster than corn chips.

  27. doug zdanivsky September 30, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    There’s Fritos in Canada at Walmart (the one I went to, anyways)..

  28. Shawn K. September 30, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    Maybe they’re banned in British Columbia. : )

  29. doug zdanivsky September 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

    Prince George, BC I got them at.

  30. John October 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    This is a great meal! I brought along two servings on my backpacking trip this weekend. I ended up cooking it with the freezer bag method but using Ziplock Zip n steam bags. I assume those bags have a higher softening point since they are exposed to steam.

    The only negative I experienced was a lot of gas after eating the meal. It was pretty bad and was slightly painful. I am not sure if being at altitude exasperated the situation or not. When I tried it at home at sea level I did not have the same problem.

    Only other issue is that the smell will permeate all your other food in your bear canister. This did not turn out to be a bad problem as I did not taste it when I ate the other food.

    Other then the negatives this is my favorite meal! It is light weight and quite tasty! All the other campers with me that were eating mountain house meals wanted some of my meal.

  31. Dan Barwick October 30, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    OK, I have reached the pinnacle of this recipe and thought I would share. Send checks to Andrew and he will forward. 🙂 Mine involves slightly more pre-trip work, but the results are spectacular, with more meat taste, more varied textures, and more fiber. There’s really no weight increase because the added ingredients are reducing the use of others.

    Ingredients for two people:
    1 c. Sante Fe refried beans
    1 c. Brown rice, cooked and dried
    1/2 c. Ground beef, cooked and dried
    1/2 c. Mountain House Fire Roasted Vegetable blend
    2 oz. sharp cheddar
    1 c. fritos
    2 tablespoons taco seasoning
    1 lime wedge

    All dried ingredients get mixed with an equivalent amount of water by volume, so you can scale this recipe. Place 3 cups of water in pot and bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, add beans and rice. Reduce to high simmer, cover for three minutes. Add ground beef and vegetable blend, stir, increase heat to bring back up to high simmer, reduce heat to keep at high simmer, and cover for three minutes. Add taco seasoning and stir. Let simmer on low, covered, for five minutes. Add cheese cut up into small pieces, stir, cover for three minutes. Separate into bowls. Squeeze lime over both. Crumble Fritos over both and serve immediately. Bask in the compliments, using the remainder of the lime for the cocktails you served people before dinner.

  32. Eric January 22, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

    I’ve made this a few times now. I use an alcohol stove so I just bring the water to a boil, then add the rice/ beans/seasoning. Then I immediately slide the pot into a reflectix pot cozy. Let it sit for a few minutes, then add the cheese and chips. Fritos don’t agree with me so just used tortilla chips. Back country gourmet.

  33. Chris Daniel January 25, 2017 at 5:43 am #

    Thanks Andrew for presenting this! I’ve not yet had it on the trail but have enjoyed it twice at home.

    Your recipe lists the ingredients by weight. That is.handy for assessing the meal’s calorie density, but when I cook I usually measure things by volume rather than weighing them. So, I’ve used information on packaging to make these calculations: 2 oz. instant beans =2/3 C; 1.5 oz. instant rice= 1/2 C; 1 oz cheddar cheese = 1/4 C; 1 oz. Fritos = 3/4 C; .2 oz. Taco Seasoning= 2 Tsp.

    .

  34. Chris Daniel January 25, 2017 at 5:54 am #

    It addition to being tasty,this has a relatively high protein content, a feat that can be challenging to accomplish in trail meals. Your recommended one person serving has this much protein:

    Beans 14 Grams
    Rice 4 Grams
    Fritos 2 Grams
    Cheddar Cheese 7 Grams
    ———————
    Total 27 grams

    Also, all that protein ought to be usable to maintain muscle tissue. The amino acids in cheese make it a ‘complete’ protein and those in rice and beans apparently complement one another well.

  35. CD February 6, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    Ingredients in Santa Fe Instant Refried Beans:
    Pinto beans, interesterified soybean oil (with TBHQ to preserve freshness), salt.

    Interesterified soybean oil… hmmm….

  36. April Driggers February 10, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    I’m trying to educate myself to teach older Cub Scouts who will be entering Boy Scouts some of these awesome secrets. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Leave a Reply

Please prove you\'re not spam: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.