Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frugal Experiment: Cooking Dried Beans in the Crock Pot

I have long heard that cooking dried beans is more economical than buying canned beans.  Approximately 95% of our meals are vegetarian & we go through a lot of beans in a month, so when I recently found packages of black beans for $0.30/lb I figured it might be a worthwhile experiment. 

Simply sort & wash the beans.  

Find a recipe, pour beans, water, & seasonings in the crock pot.  

Cook overnight or approx 8 hours, drain (if desired), package, & freeze.  Piece of cake!

Here are a few things I learned from my little frugal experiment:
  • Do not overlook the importance of sorting & rinsing the beans before you cook them. You won't save any money using dried beans if you need expensive dental work to repair a chipped tooth from an overlooked rock.  Emerson & I sorted our beans while watching a movie, & she thought it was the greatest thing ever.  
  • Aside from water to bean measurements, you don't necessarily need a recipe. I decided to double & loosely follow this recipe, but my beans ended up too spicy for E, so I can only use them for chili or other foods that she wouldn't normally eat.  Major bummer.
  • If you do find a great deal on dried beans, STOCK UP!  I only bought two 1 lb packages of beans because I hadn't tried cooking with dried beans before.  I am now chock full of cheap bean regret.  Chock full.
  • Unless you find a fabulous deal on dried beans, this might not be the most economical choice for you.  The Simple Dollar does an in depth cost analysis of dried vs. canned beans, but from my experience,  unless I find a fabulous deal, I cannot buy dried beans cheaper than I can canned.  
I'm definitely pleased I tried cooking with dried beans, & hope to again in the near long as I can get a good price.  


  1. I never buy anything but dried beans. First of all, I've never found them for more expensive than $1.25 per pound. Lentils are even cheaper. Plus, I want to avoid the waste inherent in canned beans--a lot more energy goes into producing and recycling those cans then the plastic bags that dried beans come in, especially if you buy in bulk. I also don't want to eat all the chemicals and additives that are in canned beans. To save time and energy, I just cook the whole bag of beans at the same time and freeze what I don't want to use right away. I often add beans to salads, eggs, burritos, etc. Or I can grab a handful of beans on my way to class!

  2. Sunshine, where do you get your beans? Even at Aldi, I find them to be much higher than $1.25. I hear you about the additives (yikes, BPA, etc).

    P.S. I believe that writing this comment took me as long as it took Frodo & Gandalf to have the witty repartee about a wizard arriving precisely when he means to. haha