Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Waste Your Money On Canned Beans

Want to know a secret?  Well, maybe the world's worst-kept secret, but I'll tell you anyway:

Beans are super easy to cook from their dried state.  I promise.  I'll never seldom buy canned beans again.

A typical can of organic beans at my grocery store is $1.09.  But, along with all that awesome fiber and plant-based protein comes a hefty amount of sodium.  One can has a whopping 490 grams!  I don't know about you, but I don't need all that sodium pulsing through my veins.  In fact, my husband was diagnosed with hypertension at the ripe old age of 34.

Still not convinced? Let's talk economics.  Last time I did this, I calculated that a single can-sized serving of organic garbanzo beans - made from scratch - equals about 49 cents!  That's less than half of the cost!  Who couldn't use some extra pocket change?!  Bonus tip: I know that Whole Foods has a reputation for being pricey, but here's the thing:  they have wickedly cheap dried beans and grains in the bulk section.  Even cheaper than walmart, but they are organic!  It's the only place I buy beans now.

When people see the food I cook, and hear that we're vegan, one of the first things they ask is, "how much do you spend on groceries!?"  The fact is, my family doesn't spend what your family does because our demographic is unique to us.  So, what I spent for 7 people won't be what you spend for, say, 4.  And my kids are entering the bottomless pit teen years and growing like weeds.

But, I will promise you this:  one of the first ways I saw a reduction in grocery bills was switching from natural, ideally organic, meats to beans as our primary source of protein.  They're totally versatile, filling, and much better for you and the environment.  If you, or someone in the family, doesn't like beans - keep trying new recipes.  You're bound to find something they do like.

No matter what the reason, you're here - so let's get started.

Quick Soak Beans From Scratch

Dried beans - any kind, any amount


A Pot

Convinced yet?

Pour your beans into a pot.  Pull out any of the ones you see that are sketchy - you know, the ones that are too dark, too small, or just not quite right?  

I'm using a lobster pot here, because I'm cooking a huge volume.  Remember, these suckers are going to at least double in size, so leave lots of room for expansion.  I like the pasta/lobster pots because they have a handy-dandy insert that lets you remove the contents and leave the water behind.  You'll see that magic trick later.  If you don't have one, no sweat.  Just use the biggest pot you have and a colander. 

Fill with water until the beans are fully submerged and have room to grow.

Set them on the stove and turn the burner on high.  Cover if you want this part to go faster.  
Not even breaking a sweat, are you?

Bring them up to a simmer.  Oops.  I might have waited a little too long to check on them.  Looks like they were boiling.  That foam stinks when it hits your burner, so try to avoid that.  If not, no biggie.  That's what vents are for!

Turn OFF the heat now, but keep a lid on it.  Set your timer for 59:56.  It must be that exact number or you'll screw it up.  

Not really.  It's 60 minutes, I was just slow with the camera.  This is actual cooking, folks!

Now you can walk away for a whole hour.  Do laundry, check facebook, read a blog, do the dishes.

*pinterest not recommended due to the stealthy way it makes time pass too quickly

An hour is up!  Move them over to the sink and drain them.  See how handy those pasta inserts are now?  But, seriously - it's just a colander.  Drain 'em and rinse 'em.  Aren't they nice and golden?

Fill the pot up again with clean water until they're well-covered. 

Return them to the stove and cook until tender.  I have mine on for about another hour, which should be fine.  If they still feel too al dente to you, keep going until they're softer, but not mush.

When they're finished, drain again, rinse with cold water until cooled, and package them up.

You can even use a ziplock to store these!  When they're drained, just add a few spoonfuls to a bag with no liquid and freeze flat.  Then they stack neatly, too.

Now go try it!  Your life will be forever changed!