Recipe: Six Can Chili (Vegetarian)


Learning to Cook

Ries and I grew up eating healthy foods, but neither one of us really knew how to cook when we got married.

Prior to getting married, I primarily ate at DePauw’s cafeteria--we had a meal plan that you paid each semester. Ries had been living in barracks on base with a limited kitchenette (a microwave and sink), and didn’t own a car and because of these two factors all his meals came from the PX (think military mall) or the gas station on base. (It was bad guys. I’ve never seen someone eat so much microwave soup and mac and cheese.)

I didn’t want to live off gas station food and Taco Bell, because 1) It’s gross 2) It’s expensive. But the extent of my cooking was breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs, tuna melts, and boxed mac and cheese. You think I’m joking. But we ate grilled cheese sandwiches for our first Thanksgiving. And I cried about it.

I’m still working on my cooking skills, but it’s taken a lot of experimentation. When I started out, there was about a 33% chance the recipe was terrible, a 33% chance I was going to screw up the preparation or cooking, and a 33% chance that the food would be okay. These days my odds of making a good meal have increased dramatically, but there was a while there where things were not great.

If you’re new to cooking, I recommend using recipes that have ratings. But this month, I’ll also share a few of my favorite recipes.

The Recipe

I started making this chili recipe from A Beautiful Mess back in 2014.

Over the years I’ve changed a few things out of convenience or preference. The original recipe calls for cumin and garlic, both ingredients that I stopped using when I was pregnant with Gus because I couldn’t stomach cumin. I also use more corn and onion because we were wasting those two ingredients using the original measurements. And we use more tomato sauce because the original recipe is a little dry for our tastes.



  • 1 onion (we use a sweet onion)

  • 1 tablespoon of oil (olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil all work here.)

  • 1 can red beans

  • 1 can black beans

  • 1 can white beans (great northern or Cannellini)

  • 1 can of corn

  • 1 can of tomato sauce

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne

  • ½ teaspoon of salt

  • ½ teaspoon of pepper


  • Sour cream

  • Shredded cheese (we use cheddar)

  • Fritos


  • Meat—We decided to add hot dogs on a whim one night, and it was delicious. I know that hot dogs are gross, but don’t knock it until you try it. If you want to try out a different meat, I would try adding maybe half a pound of ground beef or ground turkey.


(Because this matters to me.)

Cost estimate: $16.50, $4.12 per serving. (without spices and meat)

Ways to reduce this price: This price estimate uses organic canned produce and Tillamook cheese--purchasing conventional beans, tomatoes, and corn, and cheaper cheese would decrease the cost. We also buy the canned food in packages of four (bulk) which cuts down the price per can.


  1. If you’re using meat, cook it before you start the chili.

  2. Chop the onion. If you don’t know how, watch this video.

  3. Add the oil to a big pot, add the chopped onion, and turn the heat to medium on a large burner.

  4. Cook onion until the pieces start to look translucent and shiny.

  5. While the onion is cooking, drain the beans and corn with a colander and rinse them with cold water.

  6. Once the onions are cooked, add the whole can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the pot.

  7. Add chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir.

  8. Add the drained beans and corn, stir, and simmer until the beans are heated. (If you use meat, add it here.)

  9. You can simmer the chili longer to allow the spices to cook into the beans. (But turn down the heat so it doesn’t burn.)

  10. When you’re ready to serve the chili, top with cheese, sour cream, Fritos or the toppings of your choice.


We eat pretty big portions, and we usually half of this recipe one night, refrigerate the chili, and re-heat it on the stove the next night for dinner. (Re-heat on a low temperature.) We also like to make this when we host guests because it’s so easy.

If you’re into meal prep, you could chop and cook the onion, add all the ingredients, and refrigerate until you’re ready to heat and eat it.

Happy eating!