Money Saving Tip: Cooking Dry Beans

If legumes are as much of a staple in your house as they are in mine, cooking dry beans is an essential money-saving skill. 

Photo of dry beans as an example of money-saving benefits of cooking dry beans.
Photo by Digital Buggu from Pexels

Most Common Types of Beans and Legumes 

Some of the most common types of beans and other legumes include the following:

  • Adzuki
  • Cannellini
  • Great Northern
  • Kidney
  • Lima
  • Navy
  • Pinto
  • Soy
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts

Cost Benefit of Cooking Dry Beans

There is no doubt that cooking dry beans is much more cost-effective than buying them canned. 

For comparison, a 14.5 oz can of conventionally grown beans usually costs between $.69-$.99. One pound of dry beans usually costs around $1.29. 

Organic beans can cost anywhere from $.99 to $1.20 for canned beans and about $2.99 for one pound of dry organic beans. 

One can of beans provides about 3.5 ½ cup servings and one pound of dry beans provides about 12.5 ½ cup servings. That means that the conventionally grown canned beans cost about $.20 – $.28 per serving compared to about $.12 per serving for dry beans. 

Organic beans cost between $.28 – $.32 per serving for canned beans and about $.24 per serving for dry beans. 

Clearly, the biggest price difference between dry and canned beans comes with traditionally grown beans. That raises the question of whether there’s truly a need to pay the extra cost for organic. In it’s 2020 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce1, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) cites a Harvard University list2 based on USDA test data and other methods. The list classifies produce as being high or low in pesticides. That list includes beans and lentils as having a low to moderate pesticide residue score, which means that if you’re making choices based on cost, it may not be worth the extra price to buy organic. If you buy chickpeas though, you’ll probably want to stick with organic. The EWG does say that they contain high levels of glyphosate or Roundup1

Methods for Cooking Dry Beans

While cooking dry beans does take some planning ahead of time, the hands-on time is very minimal. I consider Linda Watson to be the queen of cooking dry beans. She says in her Wildly Affordable Organic (Affiliate Link) cookbook that split peas, lentils, black-eyed peas, black beans, chickpeas and pinto beans are fine to cook without pre-soaking. Kidney beans should always be pre-soaked for at least 5 hours. 

I follow her quick-soak method of doing them in a slow cooker. That involves bringing 6 cups of water for one pound of beans to a boil, then adding it to the beans in the slow cooker. Add salt if you’re using and let the beans cook on high. Split peas, lentils and black-eyed peas take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Black beans, chickpeas and pinto beans take about 3.5 hours. 

Linda also gives other methods of cooking beans, so if you’re new to this, I strongly recommend reading her entire section on the topic as well as trying any of the bean recipes listed in her book. 

Once the beans are completely cool, I save out what I’ll need for the week and freeze the rest in baggies by 14 oz amounts. The next time you need beans, all you have to do is thaw them. I do strongly recommend thawing by letting them sit in water for a couple of hours. In my experience, doing it in the microwave causes them to be mushy. 

By cooking dry beans in this way, my time and monetary investments are minimal for being able to enjoy some of the healthiest foods available. 

Lean on Your Community

Do you cook dry beans? If so, let us know in the comments below what your favorite method is. 

Sources

  1. Environmental Working Group. 2020 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
  2. Chiu, Y.H., et al., Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake from Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assistance Reproductive Technology. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2018. DOI: 10.1001/amainternmed.2017.5038. Available at: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2659557

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