Last week was a particularly bean-y week and it got me thinking about how often we cook with beans. Coincidently we also refer to one of our dogs, Abby, as beans so often times in conversations about cooking with beans we actually say beans… not the dog. Emily even labeled one of the bags we keep in the freezer with the title of “beans… not the dog” that we use for whatever random new beans we might be cooking with that month.
At one time we used to buy beans in the can because we really didn’t know any better. Canned beans seem like a cheap and healthy option but they are packed in a lot of preservatives and when you cook with them often the cost really starts to add up. On average we go through the equivalent of 15- 20 cans of beans each month, I realize that seems like a lot but that is only two dishes a week that contain beans. I started cooking with dried beans about a year ago because I am cheap and thought it would be worth the effort, turns out that not only does it save money but they taste better and allow for more control in your cooking. I always have the exact amount of beans I need for a recipe so there is nothing wasted and the quantities are not controlled by how much comes in a can.
I soak 1-2 pounds at a time over night and then cook them stove top for about an hour. When they are done I cool them and then store them in a gallon size bag in the freezer. They are all labeled of course so that we can refill the bag when we run out. Typically I cook the beans in a rotation, so I soak one batch over night and then the next during the following day and so on because then I can take advantage of all the dishes this process requires.
One of the great things about keeping beans in the freezer is that they break apart easily so there is no need to flash freeze or take extra precautions just toss them in a bag and you are done. I don’t flavor the beans when I cook them because I don’t necessarily use them in the same ways every time. For example last week I used black beans to make a birthday cake because she asked me to take the fat and calories out… I did what I could. If I had used seasoning or garlic when I made the beans they would not have been passable as chocolate cake.
If you want to make beans as you need them you can of course but the extra time will seem like a much bigger burden and most likely will cause you to not make whatever it was that needed the beans in the first place. We keep black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans and either kidney or pinto beans cooked and in the freezer at all time.
If you have never cooked dried beans before I suggest looking online at all the different cooking methods and selecting one that works for you. Also keep in mind that the texture might be different than what you are used to so use the beans in a mixture like burrito filling or cooked in a soup or stew so that this wouldn’t be a problem.
This week we are having beans and…
For more ideas and tips on menu planning check or organizing junkie
Much love, Aislinn and Emily