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Next Steps Rice & Beans

Claire Wright

In season now


1 mug basmati (or other) rice for 4 people

2 mugs water (or 1 mug water and 1 tin chopped tomatoes or coconut milk if you prefer more flavour)

1 small red chilli, deseeded and halved lengthways (optional)

1 tin red kidney beans (or black eyed beans)

1 tbsp Jerk seasoning or 1 tsp each dried thyme and ground allspice (optional)

Cooked chicken or veggie alternative, to serve (optional - try to reduce the amount as you add more veg to the dish)

Some added veg - aim for 1-2 handfuls per person


We suggest you do this in stages, slowly, and go as far as works for your family, here’s how your final recipe might come together…


  1. Pour 1 mug of rice and 2 mugs water (or 1 each water and chopped tomatoes/coconut milk) into a large saucepan, along with the halved chilli if using, and bring to a simmer. Add frozen veg if using. Cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy (about 12-15 mins for basmati, longer for long-grain rice), adding more water if it boils away before the rice is cooked.

  2. Great frozen veg here includes: peas, sweetcorn, mixed veg, grilled Mediterranean veg, frozen whole leaf spinach, broad beans or edamame beans, sliced peppers or mushrooms, sliced carrots… For bigger frozen veg that takes longer to cook like broccoli/cauliflower florets or diced sweet potato/squash, try cooking separately according to package instructions and stirring through when everything is ready.

  3. If using fresh veg, try dicing small and cooking either separately (then adding to the rice when done), or soften in some oil in a large saucepan, then add the rice and liquid to the same pan in with the cooked veg so it’s all in one. Try: finely diced carrots, celery and/or onion, sliced or diced peppers or mushrooms, diced courgettes or aubergines, thinly sliced leeks, finely diced sweet potato or squash… If using broccoli or cauliflower florets, you are best off cooking separately, and for fresh leafy greens, just stir them through with the beans!
  4. Remove the chilli if you used one and stir through the drained kidney beans and seasoning (if using). Serve as is, or with some cooked chicken or veggie alternative. Some sliced spring onions are also traditional with this dish, or try some fresh veg on the side with your protein like sliced cucumber or cherry tomatoes, or even cooked and buttered corn-on-the-cob!

Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating. Find out more here.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

Get younger kids rinsing the beans in a sieve, measuring out the rice and water with a mug, and/or chucking a couple of handfuls of your chosen veg into the pan.

Older kids might be ready to learn how to chop some fresh veg to add at the start of the meal, stir everything together in the pan, and learning to taste (careful, it’s hot!) to determine whether to add some optional extras for flavour such as lemon or lime juice, fresh chopped coriander or mint, or perhaps some salsa or coconut milk for tang or creaminess.

Master these skills:

Cleaning vegetables,  Weighing,  Tasting,  Mixing


Use arts & crafts as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. While you make your rice & beans, why not set a child up with:

Peas Veg Crown

Peas – Cutout ‘n Colour

Boxing Peas Puzzle

Escapeas Game

Peadoku Puzzle

Find more arts & crafts and puzzles & games on our website.



Why not start with a red pepper and get them to describe what they see – what does it look like? Does it remind them of a bell, a mini umbrella, or a scary face (if sliced in half lengthways)? Encourage their imaginations and see what fun ideas they come up with! See if they want to chuck some into the rice & beans, or serve them raw on the side, after having engaged with them.

Watch Ruth Platt’s video on sensory activities with peppers for more inspiration, or get more tips, games and videos over on our Sensory page.



Why not let your child be in charge of coming up with a fun name and story for the meal and decorating the table with the theme they have in mind! They could turn the table into a Caribbean island for the Jamaican “rice & peas” dinner to bright a little brightness to a dreary day, or come up with a funny story or some silly puns about the dish to share with everyone over dinner.

Get more ideas over on our Roles for Kids page.

Claire Wright

Editor: After leaving Exeter University with a degree in English Literature, Claire worked in various fields ranging from youth work and charities to publishing, before starting up a food-focused website when her first child was born. After being asked to project manage the publication of Veg Power's Crowdfunder book, Claire came on board as a fully-fledged team member in 2018 to take on the role of Communications Manager, then Editor, looking after Veg Power's website, content, recipes and social media platforms.

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