Welcome to the Frugal Food Series-a place where we are all trying to help one another stretch our grocery dollar during this time of soaring prices. So far we’ve explored the wonder of the inexpensive egg, and the delicous recipes available for the ubiquitous canned tuna. Now we are on to the third frugal food staple-beans!
Beans (also referred to as legumes or pulses, depending on what your country of origin is) are high in protein and fiber yet low in fat. Plus they are downright cheap-a bag of beans that makes the equivalent of 3 or 4 of those storebought cans usually costs well under a dollar. What’s not to love?
Most recipes calling for beans can use either canned beans or dried beans (reconstituted of course) interchangeably. Many people prefer the convenience of canned beans-not wanting to go through the “hassle” of cooking their own beans. Although I do have a can or two of kidney beans in the pantry for emergency situations, I prefer the dried option. Honestly-it isn’t that much trouble. You simply soak them overnight, and then you can cook them on the stove top or even just let them cook in the crockpot all day. Now really-what’s your excuse for not being able to do that?
If you are really incapable of planning that far in advance, then pick a convenient time, soak and cook the beans then simply freeze them in 1 or 2 cup portions. TA DA! All the same convenience that you’d get in a can-but for even less money!
Lentils and split peas are even easier. Neither of those have to be soaked at all before cooking (plus in my humble opinion both are just darn tasty)
So what are some of the ways beans are used in the Frugal Upstate household? Well I’m always up for a great new recipe, but here the most typical uses:
#1-Chili Con Carne-either a red bean with red meat (venison beef etc) or else a white bean with chicken.
#2-Homemade Baked Beans.
#3-Split Pea Soup (aka Shrek Swamp Slime Soup for the benefit of my 5 year old who says he hates peas but will gobble up a bowl of this if referred to by the correct name).
#4-Mexican Food-I make a sort of mock refried beans from mashed up kidney or small red beans mixed with some salsa, ham bullion, minced sauteed onion etc. Then I can use it in Mexican lasagna, bean burritos, bean dip, well-the possibilities are limitless.
#5-Lentil Casserole-I found this recipe over at Home Ec 101 and it is very good. Yankee Bill couldn’t believe that it didn’t have meat in it. Then I used the leftovers in tacos (with appropriate seasoning) sandwiches, soup. . .
#6-Hummus-This yummy dip cum sandwich spread made from chick peas is just irresistible in it’s garlicy goodness.
#7-Cold Bean Salad-Just mix kidney beans, white beans, cooked green beans (the vegetable), minced onion and italian salad dressing. Let sit for a couple of hours in the fridge for flavors to meld. Great as a summer BBQ side dish.
I know that there are a million other great ways to use beans, so let’s see what you all come up with! Remember, post a link to the recipe at your blog in the Mr. Linky below (again-please link directly to the post and not just to your homepage). If you don’t have a blog-don’t worry! You can still play. Simply post your recipe in the comments section or email it to me and I’ll post it for you.
Have any other topics you’d like to see in the Frugal Food Series? Drop me a note and let me know about them.