Oh, how I love beans. A staple in this house, beans are not only yummy but extremely frugal. If you know how to properly take care of dried beans, any meal you make from them will cost pennies and pack lots of protein and flavor.
It seems with the economy and the on-coming triple digit days of summer, beans are hitting everyone’s dinner tables. And I, of course, love it.
Cheap Eats: Beans
Wanna know how to soak and cook beans without using so much heat and energy? Stephanie from A Year of Slow Cooking showed us a while back how to use our slow cooker for this purpose. I have done this time and time again now, and I freeze the beans to be used for later meals.
Famous Food writer Mark Bittman recently re-thought the versatility of canned beans. He’s very discerning, so the fact that he’s giving them another chance says a lot. The canned version aren’t as frugal as the dried version, but they are definitely still a frugal staple for those that may not have time for bags of beans.
Just think of the many situations you can use them! Got friends popping over? Take whatever beans you have in the cupboard, grab any spice packet you may have in there (taco seasoning packets are the best!) and throw them into the food processor or blender. Thin it out with a little bit of water or stock and a drizzle of oil; add chips, crackers or veggies, and you’ve got a party!
We also love to make Southwest pasta salad, because canned black beans are the breakout star. Here’s a fun video tutorial:
Want an easy soup? Dump 2 cans of beans in a pot along with a can of broth (chicken, beef, whatever). Add salt, pepper, two dashes of hot sauce and a bay leaf (or add another seasoning packet!). Simmer for 10 minutes. Take out the bay leaf. Throw half of the soup in the blender and pulse a few times. Add back to the pot, stir and eat! I do this meal a lot in the summer with black beans and taco seasoning. I also add in a bit of turkey meat to make it the ultimate winter meal. It’s also great cold in the summer!
Or, you can make our all time favorite bean meal, red beans and rice. This utilizes that summer hot dog stockpile you may attain, along with yummy beans. It’s a belly buster meal full of flavor, and a little bowl goes a long way.