How in the world do you save money on your grocery bill while focusing on real food and filling up those cute bottomless pits that sit around your dinner table? Good grief. That’s a tall order. Thankfully, beans fit the bill. See? They really are that magical fruit you sang about as a kid.
Beans are a versatile, satisfying protein source. There are tons of different varieties to choose from, and most of them are incredibly economical. By incorporating them into your menu plans this fall and winter, you can make tasty side dishes, stretch pots of soup, create meatless main dishes, or experiment with new desserts. Hang on. I see it written all over your virtual face. You’re skeptical. Keep reading for ideas on how to make it happen.
Cooking Dried Beans
Check out our All About Beans series for simple, step-by-step directions and recipes. Since I started using this cooking method, I have stopped buying canned beans. I love it. I keep jars of dried beans in my pantry, cooking and freezing them as needed. Isn’t it great when a new skill in the kitchen saves you money in the grocery store?
Deals on canned beans come up every now and then; these are great to have in your stockpile for quick meals. Either direction your time and budget takes you, here are some great ways to use beans to feed your family for less:
Beans for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and… Dessert?
I am trying to eat a more protein-packed breakfast, even though every bone of my carb-craving self is currently resisting this plan. Breakfast Burritos are a nice compromise, though. Simply tuck beans and scrambled eggs into a warm tortilla. Top with cheese, salsa, and/or sour cream. Add avocado and all is right with my little world. Even when the kids wake up way too early.
Breakfast Burritos are also one of my favorite camping or breakfast-for-dinner meals.
They can be assembled without the toppings, individually wrapped, and frozen for a quick breakfast that can be reheated in the microwave or oven.
This Black Bean Salad comes from Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen (Amazon) (which I love); the recipe mixes black beans, roasted tomatoes, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and lemon juice. It’s a crazy combination of flavors that really works. I added some cooked brown rice and served it as a side dish with Simple Roast Chicken.
Beans can be added to so many different soups and stews to complement, or completely take the place of, meat. Last night I made a White Chicken Chili, very similar to this recipe. I cooked mine in a slow cooker and froze the leftovers. Easy and economical.
Google Black Bean Brownies, and you’ll get a long list of results. I’m not a big fan of Jessica Seinfeld’s whole deceptive + delicious combo platter, but I’m starting to experiment a bit more with mixing and matching ingredients in unexpected ways.
Then my sister called, raving about this Long-Run Cake recipe from Runner’s World. With an ingredient list including black beans, applesauce, oat flour, agave nectar (I used honey), and cocoa, I had to try it out. My family didn’t even know beans were involved.
For those of you on restricted diets (gluten-free, low-fat, no refined sugar), this recipe could be a great dessert option.
This is a recipe book that is downloaded to your computer. You can either flip through the eBook on your computer to print the pages off and keep with your other cookbooks. The eBook has “95 pages and 30 recipes to lower your food budget and raise your nutrition at the same time. Twenty pages of… well… everything you might want to know about beans, including how to get comfortable with dry beans so you can save even more money…”
If you order through this link (scroll down to find the beans book) and enter FALL4BEANS at checkout, you’ll receive $3 off, for a final price of $6.95. Offer good through Monday, October 31, 2011.
Leave a comment! What is your favorite way to use beans?
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