Frugal Food Series: Beans

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on August 17, 2011

Welcome to week three of the Frugal Food Series! So far we’ve talked about eggs and tuna.  This week’s frugal food topic is BEANS!In these challenging economic times I’ve been encouraging everyone to cook from scratch and learn to use basic, frugal foods in new and delicious ways!  To help with that we are compiling as many recipes as we can in 8 frugal food categories:  Eggs, Tuna, Beans, Ground Meat, Chicken (whole/wings/thighs), Potatoes Pasta & Grains, Desserts & Snacks and Potluck Favorites.  (note:  you will always be able to find the all of the Frugal Food Series links at the Frugal Food Series Index!

If you’ve got a great recipe please add it!  If you don’t have a blog, contact me with the recipe and I’ll post it.  And don’t worry if you’ve missed a week–we are leaving the “linky’s” up till mid September in order to collect as many recipes as possible!

And now on to the food of the week-BEANS!

Photo by Global Crop Diversity Trust

Beans are the poster child for frugal food~ inexpensive, high in protien (about 22% by volume), high in fiber and easy to cook in a variety of ways.  As an added beneift they have a long storage life–dried beans will last over a year in the bag they come in from the store, and up to 10 years if stored in something airtight with the oxygen removed!

Photo by Postman 76

Of course if you want to be super frugal (and sustainable) you can grow your own dried beans-just plant them let them grow to maturity and leave the pods on the vine until they are dry and the beans rattle around inside.  Then you pop them out and store them.  Eat a bunch, save some for planting next year (assuming they are open pollinated)  Super easy!

Speaking of saving money–while canned beans are convenient and economical, dried beans are the real frugal rockstar.  I can buy a 2LB bag of Great Northern Beans at Aldi’s for under a dollar.  1 LB of beans is approx 2 cups.  Beans triple in size when soaked, so my 2 LB bag of beans will net me 12 cups of cooked beans for under a dollar (source: Bean Arithmetic at Bean Central).

Photo by Chiots Run

As for cooking them, I know dried beans can seem like a pain-but trust me, they don’t have to be with a little planning.  My favorite method is to soak beans overnight in water, drain & rinse, then recover with water and cook in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hrs.  When done use in your favorite recipe or pack into freezer bags in can size portions (ie about a cup) and freeze.  Viola-beans when you need them.

note:  Kidney Beans MUST BE BOILED for 10 minutes during cooking to destroy toxins within the bean-when you buy canned the manufacturer has taken care of this for you.  Never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker.

Beans are versatile.  They can be used as a side dish (three bean salad),  as the meal itself  (baked beans, pintos with kick), as a dip (Hummus) or just to bulk up other meals, casseroles or soups.  I can’t wait to see what bean recipes you have to offer!

Don’t forget to grab the badge and share the news about the Frugal Food series before you head out:

Frugal Food Series


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