Since Taylor and I only eat meat once a week – if at all – we have to get our necessary protein from eggs, beans, and edamame. A lot of recipes I make for dinner don’t even have a protein in them (or use meat) so I throw in a can of beans. I started to get sick of buying the same cans of beans over and over: chickpeas, black beans, and navy beans. Also they were sometimes out of the store brand so I was forced to buy a more expensive can. So I decided that I would buy dried beans, cook them all at once, and freeze them into can-sized portions. We have been doing this for 4 months now and it has been going great. About once every three weeks, I buy 2 cups of dried chickpeas, dried black beans, or dried navy beans (whatever I am running out of). 2 cups of dried beans equates to about 4 cans of cooked beans. So at any time I could potentially have 4 cans of chickpeas, black beans, and navy beans in my freezer. Here are my steps to cooking and freezing beans.
- Rinse the 2 cups of beans thoroughly.
- Soak for at least 8 hours in a bowl filled with water. You will want the beans to be covered with a lot of water – they will soak it up. I even soak them for 24 hours sometimes because I forget about them. Soaking the beans will allow them to cook faster and there are rumors it will reduce how much they make you pass gas. Because I know that is your biggest concern.
- After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Throw them into a large pot with plenty of water.
- Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Scrape any foam off of the water as they cook. Depending on the type of bean it will take around 1 to 1.5 hours for them to cook. I usually do this after dinner on a weeknight when we are hanging out around the house.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Spread out onto a cookie sheet to cool – I typically do this overnight because I am impatient.
- Once cooled split the 2 cups of cooked beans into 4 containers and stick in the freezer. I use Libbey 16-Ounce Bowls because they are just a little larger than the volume of a can.
I have found the easiest way to defrost them is to put them into a bowl of hot water. This defrosts them quickly (less than 5 minutes) without heating them up in case you want to use them in a room temperature dish. Cooked dried beans have a much more satisfying and fresh taste than out of the can.
So what’s the cost benefit?
- 4 cans organic black beans – $6.95
- 2 cups dried organic black beans – $1.68
And on a more vegetarian-esque note, if you had to buy meat as your protein for four meals instead of using the cooked 2 cups of black beans it would be an even larger cost difference.