Beans are one of our favorite frugal foods not only because they’re really affordable, but they’re also versatile and super healthy! They are high in protein and fiber, as well as antioxidants and numerous vitamins and minerals, including iron. Because of that, they’re one of my frugal pantry must haves. These little guys get a ton of bonus points though since they help keep my iron counts up.
To get the most for your money, and to reduce the amount of additives in your food, it’s really beneficial to buy beans dry and prep them yourself at home. Not only are they cheaper for you, but they’re actually healthier for you too. You know exactly what seasonings you put in them, and how much you put in. There’s no preservatives, no EDTA or TBHQ. You also know exactly how they were cooked and what they were cooked in. Bonus points if you grew and dried the beans on your own too!
There’s lots of different methods for cooking dry beans, but I prefer to quick cook them. This isn’t because I find it superior in some way. It’s honestly because I forget to get the beans started in the overnight soak process, until the morning of needing the beans. Plus, since the quick cook method requires lots of inactive cooking time, I can hammer out a few different types of beans on a Saturday, and still be able to do other tasks. Tasks like no longer procrastinating folding laundry. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
How To Cook and Freeze Dry Beans
The first step is to sort the beans. This seems rather menial, but it’s something that needs done and the kids love to help me with this.
All you’re doing is making sure no pebbles, rocks, twigs, leaves, sticks, dirt, etc. get into your finished product. In all the bags of beans I’ve done, I’ve only found a few pebbles. Even with finding very few pebbles, I still sort beans before I prep them. It just wouldn’t be fun if a one got through and into someone’s meal. By sorting first, you’re saving yourself an expensive tooth repair!
You’re also sorting out any beans that got through processing that may not be the best quality. These include ones that are off color, cracked or split, and so on. When I prepped the beans shown below, I sorted two bags. What’s ready to be cooked is in the pot, and what needs tossed is in the green bowl.
Rinse the beans, and then put them in a pot with enough water to cover about 2 inches.
Bring the water to a hard boil, and boil for 1 minute. Turn off the burner, and allow the beans to sit for an hour undisturbed. This allows the beans to soak up the water. If any beans are floating after the time is up, remove them before going on.
Drain the beans into a colander and rinse.
Put the beans back into your pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 60 minutes. Be sure to keep an ear out as they will boil over if you’re not watching close enough. The cooking time honestly depends on the bean.
I’ve had success in cooking them for around 30 minutes, and I find that even the tougher varieties like kidney beans are done cooking and starting to break in half after simmering for 45 minutes. Depending on what I’m using the beans for, I may just skip this second cooking time altogether and use the cook time in their recipe as the second cooking time.
Drain and rinse the beans again, and store in 1.5 cup increments in pint sized freezer bags.*
I store in 1.5 cup increments since that’s roughly what is in a 15 oz can. Any time you have a recipe calling for a can of beans, use a bag instead!
What’s the cost?
A one pound bag of dry beans ranges in price in my area, but most are between $1.09 and $1.39. These were Goya dry beans and were priced $1.39 at Weis. Each bag of dry beans makes 4 bags of prepped beans, at 1.5 cups per bag.
So if the bag of dry beans cost $1.39, that’s $0.35 per bag of prepped beans. The cost will be less than that if the bag of dry beans costs even less. Either way, it’s pretty hard for me to find a can of beans without a bunch of preservatives for $0.35 or less!
Do you cook with dry beans? Do you prefer to prep them with the quick cook method, or soak them overnight? What’s your favorite recipe to use dry beans in?