Zero Waste Homemade Pinto Beans and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas

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Pinto beans and tortillas have always been a staple at my parent’s home, just like most Mexican families. It’d be really hard to live without them so it’s super nice they can both be made zero waste!

Pinto Beans are a low-fat legume rich in iron and protein. Today I learned one cup of boiled pinto beans contains about 13 grams of protein, 1/3 of the daily allowance! They’re delicious, nutritious, and super easy to make.

Here’s my mom’s recipe for homemade Mexican-Style pinto beans. 


  • 4 cups Bulk Pinto  Beans
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Water


  1. Cover the beans with water and let soak over night. This way the beans will cook faster, saving energy and time, and will be easier to digest. The beans will expand to about 3 times their size, so make sure to put them in a large bowl with substantial water.
  2. The Next Day: cut the onion into big chunks, the bell pepper into 3 pieces, and peel the garlic. (If you want to add hot peppers or larger amounts of the vegetables, go for it!)
  3. Drain the beans and rinse with fresh water.
  4. Bring about 1 gallon of water to a boil and add the soaked beans, there should be about 1 inch of water covering the beans.
  5. Bring to a boil again and add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper.
  6. Turn down to medium heat and cook until they are soft, it usually takes about one hour and a half.
  7. If at any time you need to add more water, heat it first before adding to maintain a constant temperature.
  8. Add salt to taste and enjoy!

These beans can be enjoyed as-is, topped with freshly diced tomato, onion and cilantro, or you can mash them up in oil to make re-fried beans!  If you made more than you can eat at once, they store easily in the freezer. If you use a glass jar, just remember to leave about an inch of space at the top so the jar doesn’t crack when the beans and bean juice expand.

Now on the not-so-healthy, but equally delicious part, the tortillas! I prefer corn tortillas, but flour tortillas also rock my world, and since we only had whole wheat flour, that’s what we made today. Some of you might say these aren’t “authentic” tortillas and are more like Indian chapatis, and I will agree with you. But these are still delicious, zero waste, and super simple to make!  (And I’m Mexican so I will call them tortillas)

Here’s my super easy whole-wheat tortilla recipe


  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. In a large bowl add the ingredients and use your hand to mix it all together.
  2. After mixing for 3-4 minutes the dough should be dry but very manageable. If it is too sticky add more flour and if it is too dry and crumbly add more water.
  3. Break off a small piece, about the size of a golf ball, and place on a flat surface sprinkled with flour. But really, you can do any size depending on what size you want your tortilla.
  4. Use a rolling pin or clean wine bottle to roll it out. Tortillas are very thin so try to roll it out as much as possible. But if it comes out thicker, no worries, it will still be delicious!
  5. Place on an already very hot  pan and turn over after 30-40 seconds. Let it cook on the other side for another 30 seconds.and remove.
  6. Tortillas are best warm, so as soon as their ready, enjoy!

It’s true, we don’t always have time to make homemade beans and tortillas when they’re easily available at the store. But today, we did have the time, and it felt great to eat simple, homemade food without making necessary waste! This meal can easily be made zero waste and plastic free.Here’s how!

  1. Buy beans in bulk using a reusable bag. You can buy only as much as you need  without making the trash!
  2. Buy loose vegetables using a reusable bag
  3. Buy flour in bulk using your own bag or buy flour packaged in a paper bag that can be recycled
  4. Buy olive oil in bulk or in a recyclable glass jar
  5. Buy salt in bulk or in a recyclable container


Hope you enjoy this easy light Mexican meal! It’s good for the planet and you!


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