If you are looking for ways to cut your grocery costs and improve your health, I suggest incorporating beans into your weekly meal plan. Beans are healthy, cheap, and taste great if you prepare them correctly.
Dried beans are almost always cheaper than canned, plus you can control the amount of salt added to the beans. You cannot compare the price of dried beans to can pound for pound because as beans are cooked they absorb water, adding to their weight. For example a 4 pound bag of dried pinto beans (purchased for $2) will yield almost 13 pounds of refried beans. This breaks down to $0.15 a pound. I have never been able to purchase a can of refried beans for $0.15.
The key to cooking dried beans is water and time. I usually soak my beans over night in a large bowl or pot. Then I cook them the next day in the crock pot. To soak beans place in a container with water. I have never actually measured how much water I use, but I try to add as much as I can without going over the top of the container. Also, leave room for the beans to expand. Beans do not have to be soaked before they are cooked, but it does shorten the cooking time.
The next morning I rinse my soaked and now much expanded beans and place them in the crock pot to cook. Depending on what I am making I might throw other ingredients in as well. Cooking time also depends on what you are making. Refried beans cook all day until they are almost mush, black beans are cooked for a shorter time. The recipe you are using will probably tell you how long to cook your beans.
If you don’t want to use your crock pot you can simmer your beans for one to two hours on the stove top.
Quick Bean facts from Central Bean Co.
- A pound of beans measures about 2 cups.
- Beans triple in volume when soaked and cooked.
- A cup of dry beans yields 3 cups cooked.
- A pound of dry beans yields 6 cups cooked.
- Use 3 cups of water per cup of dry beans for soaking.
- Simmer each pound of beans 2 hours after soaking.
- A pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans.
- A pound of dry beans makes about 12 servings of bean soup.
- A one-pound can of cooked beans measures about 2 cups.
There are so many different beans as well as ways to prepare them, you could eat beans every night have still have quite a variety in your menu.
A few of my favorite bean recipes are:
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (this is great served over rice)
Pintos and Cheese
I love using homemade refried beans to make burritos. Beans are a great healthy filler in recipes. My burritos freeze well and also can be packaged in ziplocs without the sauce for an easy lunch on the go.
Basic Wet Burrito Recipe
- Refried Beans
- Chopped onion
- 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Enchilada sauce
Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Mix beans, onion, and Rotel. Spread on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll up. Place burrito in baking dish. Fill entire baking dish with burritos. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on the burritos. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover the last 5 minutes, sprinkle with cheese, and finish baking.
In this picture I used small tortillas, I would not recommend using then as they don’t hold much filling.
What I love about this recipe is that it can be changed in so many different ways. If you have leftovers in the fridge just mix them in with the beans. Here are a few suggestions.
- Ground Beef
- Beef Roast
You don’t have to have a large amount of these items a little bit goes a long way in burrito filling.
The Hillbilly Housewife has a some great bean recipes on her site as well.