I could have called this post "Night at the Improv: Chili," because almost all our meals are vegetarian any more, but I love the sanctimonious ring of "Vegetarian." However, the word "flexitarian," like the word "webinar," does not attract me. Even though "flexitarian" describes me, I eschew it.
Here is what you do. In the morning at breakfast, think, "Tonight will be a good chili night!" Retrieve about a pound of dried beans, red or black would be best, from your cupboard. Possibly they are in a bag slumped behind the oatmeal container. Soak them all day in a whole bunch of water; it should cover the beans at all times and the beans will swell.
About an hour and a half before dinner, drain the beans and cover them again with water, and cook them until they seem done. This will be at least 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up your cast-iron Dutch oven. You don't have one? Ask for one for Christmas. I use mine three times a week, at least. In the mean time, a big pot will do just fine. Put a little olive oil in. Dice an onion and add it to the hot oil. Celery or carrot is nice if you have it. If only I had had one fresh jalapeno (take out the seeds if you're going for moderate heat) and a fresh green pepper last time I made it, alas. Add a couple tablespoons chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin if you like that. I do. Coriander? Another possibility. A little cocoa powder adds depth, and a blob of jarred mole will add depth as well as a more complex heat. That would probably already have a touch of chocolate. And if you don't demand depth or complexity from your chili, I can only say--how sad for you. Saute the vegetables and spices until soft, 5-7 minutes.
Drain the beans when they're done and add them along with a can or two of diced tomatoes, tomato paste if you love that tomato flavor, which my husband doesn't, and some corn, perhaps, especially if you're cooking black beans. Corn is controversial in my family. A chipotle in adobo sauce would be daring, wouldn't it? Now might be a good chance to get rid of one of those cans of dull beer that lurk unwanted in your fridge, something like that Shiner Bock from your friends who developed a taste for it at Rice University (Hi, Bob and Nikkola!). So just open the can and pour some in. Let the chili simmer gently for 30 minutes or more. Cornbread and a salad top off this simple meal. It is frighteningly easy to make cornbread, please don't even tell me that you buy it.
Chili is even better the next day and just marvelous for the rest of the week.