If you haven’t noticed by reading my previous posts, I like many other Americans (and indeed global citizens everywhere,) am concerned with saving money. I also try to avoid BPA as much as possible in foods, which canned beans have. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, cooking dried beans can help you avoid the salts that most canned varieties contain as well.
I typically buy several varieties of dried beans– black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, canellini beans, lentils, garbanzo beans.
I use them for a bit of everything– dips, stews, rice, chilis, just to name a few. It’s totally worth it to pre-soak your beans overnight, and it helps your body digest them better. But to be honest, I don’t always plan my meals that far in advance, and well, sometimes, it just doesn’t work out for me. And since I don’t want to do canned beans, I make up big batches at a time.
Once a month, I take two or three days to do beans. Soak them, 3 varieties at a time (in separate bowls) overnight. Then fire them up each in the crockpot on low, all day. While those are cooking, soak some more. When each batch is ready, drain, portion up into 8 oz portions, and freeze. When you need some for something, either thaw first, or throw straight in the dish still frozen to thaw out. (Note: since I use ziplocs, I save and reuse them each time for the same type of bean, and I always lay them out to thaw so I’m not heating the plastic.)
The savings? Around here, a bag of black beans runs about $1.29, not on sale. Each contains 16 oz. dried beans, which cooks up to be about 4 cans worth. A can here sells for anywhere from $0.89 to $1.39 a piece. So the savings are pretty good, I’d say.
This is easy, cheap, eco-friendly, and nutritional. Doesn’t take much time either. Don’t know what to do with frozen beans? Try my non-fried refried beans. Or some hummus. (YUM)