Bagged dried beans offer more than just healthy eating. They are inexpensive and come in a large variety. For those of you watching their salt, you can easily control the salt content compared to some canned beans with a high sodium content. Sure, you can buy expensive low-sodium brands, but that defeats the purpose of buying low-cost dried.
But canned beans do offer one convenience…they’re quick and easy. So to equal the convenience of canned beans, it makes much more sense to cook a big batch of beans – the way YOU like them – and freeze them in whatever size portions that you prefer for later use. Cook them relatively plain so that you have max flexibility for the future, just like canned beans. You can easily do this one evening or on a weekend afternoon when you’re sitting around watching a movie.
Beans freeze really well and they defrost easily in the microwave or in fridge while you’re at work. Little ziplock bags take up little room. Beans in the freezer are like money in the bank. A much better return than you’ll ever get from the stock market.
These are based on prices found at local grocery stores, coupled with data from my own cooking.
- Average cost for a can of cooked beans: $1.19
- Average contents of a can of cooked beans: 2 cups cooked beans
- Average cost for a pound of dried beans: $1.99
- Average cooked contents of a pound of dried beans: 8 cups cooked beans
From this, it’s just simple math.
- Average cost of pre-cooked beans: $0.60 per cup, cooked
- Average cost of dry beans: $0.25 per cup, cooked
- Energy and water use to cook beans: $0.01 per cup, estimated
- Savings per cup using dry beans: approximately $0.34 per cup, cooked
For roughly every cup of cooked beans that I prepare myself (approximately 1/8 lb. dry beans will cook into 1 cup cooked beans), I save $0.34, including the additional costs. That may not sound like much, but that’s about a 25% savings per can.
To keep you well stocked in fresh cooked beans, I’ve discovered a quick and easy way to cook them, and I’ll show you how.
Cooking Beans Quickly
- Soak beans overnight. (HINT: There is no need to pre-soak dried black-eyed peas, split peas, peas, or any variety of lentils.) The most important reason for soaking is that it allows shorter cooking times, and that preserves the most nutrients so you get the benefits of all the proteins, vitamins and minerals in the beans and maximize their food value.
- Get a large pot.
- Rinse the beans.
- Add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches.
- Remove any “floaters”. Floaters are DUDS and will not cook properly.
- Soak, covered and without heat, overnight.
- After soaking overnight, drain water. Rinse and drain 3-4 times. (This will especially help if you get intestinal gas from beans)
- Freeze in whatever quantity you choose. (I prefer one cup measurements which leaves me more flexibility in recipes) I use ziploc bags.
- When you’re ready to use them, they will cook and soften easily in about 20 minutes. This gives you perfectly cooked beans in 20 minutes.
- Add salt and seasonings AFTER the beans are tender and the consistency you want the finished recipe to represent.
Here’s why this works: When the beans are frozen, the water expands and breaks some of the cellulose strands that hold the cells together. This is the same action that occurs when you cook beans for hours.