Beans are a powerhouse food- high in protein, loaded with fiber, and are high in zinc, iron, potassium, and other antioxidants. Did you know they are both a vegetable and a protein? Beans are just about a perfect food and we eat a lot of them in my house.
Cooking beans at home takes some time and planning, so at first glance, it doesn’t sound like a helpful tool to balance your busy day. But in the long run, you will save money and eat better. And with just a little planning, it’s a pretty easy task. I suggest starting on a weekend morning, then cooking while you prepare dinner later that evening.
- Dried beans can usually be found in the pasta aisle or in your store’s bulk bins. I bought my beans for less than $1 per pound.
- Soak your beans for 4-6 hours. This helps them cook faster and help to remove the indigestible complex sugars, that wonderful stuff that causes gas. Be sure to cover with at least 2-3 inches of water. I am amazed at how much water they soak up. Note: some methods suggest soaking the beans overnight or doing a “quick soak” method. I have found that beans are more likely to lose their skin and fall apart with this method. While they taste fine, they just don’t have the same visual appeal.
- Drain the remaining water from the beans, put in a large pot, and cover with at least two inches of water. ** It is very important to drain the old water- this has the stuff that causes the gassiness- for all of our sake, let’s get as much of that out as we can!
- With the lid on, bring to a boil. Your pot is loaded with a lot of beans and water so this takes a little while. Leave the lid on! This helps build up a layer of foam on the top. When it begins to boil, remove the lid and with a spoon, remove the layer of foam (more of those gas-causing goodies). Your beans should boil for two minutes.
- After boiling for two minutes, reduce to a simmer with the lid on the pot. Your beans should take 1-1 ½ hours to cook. Check on your beans periodically to be sure you haven’t run low on water. If you do, just add more. When beans are almost done, add salt or any other spices you choose. (I add very little salt and just adjust the salt as needed when I use the beans in recipes)
- Drain your beans, rinse, and enjoy!! These freeze and thaw great! I freeze them in two cup portions (about the amount in a can).
- Money saver- A 15 ounce can of beans runs about $1.00. A pound of dry beans costs the same (maybe less), but makes the equivalent of three cans of beans.
- Less sodium- You can control how much salt goes into your beans. But note: A can of beans in my cupboard has the equivalent of ¼ tsp of salt. If you cook one pound of beans (making three cans equivalent), you would need to put in less than ¾ tsp to make my “less sodium” statement be true. Careful not to over salt!
- Less waste and peace of mind- It feels good to pull these beans from my freezer that I know exactly what went into making them and not have to fill up my trash with cans.