Yes, really. Beans.
The musical fruit.
(Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.)
I'm a fan of beans. Most beans are a high quality protein, are full of antioxidants, and are loaded with fiber. I could tout all the nutritional benefits of beans or you could read more about them here. (Or perhaps my friend, Tiffani--akaGooglemeister, could do a little research for us. Sorry that's sort of an inside joke, but I could not resist).
Anyway, back to beans and money-saving Monday...
Last spring I did a series of posts about my meal planning system, and I shared my time-saving tip about pre-cooking all my meat. My friend Diane commented on that post and told me that she did the same thing with beans. She buys dried beans, cooks up a big pot, and freezes them.
I never knew you could freeze beans. Did you?
I've been doing this for several months now and let me tell you it is not only easy but it is SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying cans of beans!
Here's the math:
For my most recent two-week meal plan, I needed 7 cans of beans--four black, two pinto, and one kidney.
The cheapest (Walmart, generic) can of beans is $.72.
$.72/can x 7 cans = $5.04
A one pound bag of dried black beans is $1.12 and equals FIVE cans of beans. That comes out to roughly $.22/can. A savings $.50/can.
I bought three (1lb) bags of dried beans last time I shopped. (For some reason, pinto beans are cheaper than kidney and black beans.) I spent about $3.20 for the equivalent of 15 cans of beans, saving me about $7.50 (for 15 cans).
Sure, that may not seem like a lot of saved money. And for some of you, the time you'd have to spend cooking a pot of beans is worth the extra cost of buying them canned. For me, it's a no brainer. I like saving money (even small amounts add up) and I have the time to cook up a pot every couple of weeks.
I generally pick a morning that I'm going to be at home, and soak my beans the night before (the instructions are on the packaging). In the morning, I just put a pot on and let them simmer away. For some reason, it always takes longer than the directions claim. I wonder if it's because I live at a high altitude? Next, I drain, rinse, cool and then package them in freezer bags, and freeze until needed. I've added frozen beans to the crock pot (for chili) and they turn out just fine, but usually I thaw them along with my meat.
1 1/2 cups of beans = 1 can
I've been buying my dried beans at Walmart, but I just noticed that my natural foods store sells organic beans in bulk. They come in a larger quantity (2lbs instead of 1lb) but the price per pound ends up being cheaper (for organic!) so I'll be buying those the rest of the winter.
Anyway, just thought I'd share my newest money-saving strategy. Thank you, Diane!
Here are some of my favorite bean recipes...
Pork and Black Bean Chili (this is CarpoolQueen's recipe, and it's oh-so good!)
Believe it or not, I'm not original in dedicating an entire post to beans. I recently found this blog (love it!) and she wrote about beans twice last week. I want to try some of her recipes soon!
Got a favorite bean recipe? Please share!!!