Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thrifty Thursday - Canned vs. Dried

Before I start my Thrifty Thursday idea, may I suggest you hop on over to Tereasa's blog to check out her idea for making homemade laundry and dishwasher detergent. I can't wait to try these.

I am recent convert to dried beans. I have always used canned beans before now. I had never really considered dried beans as an option really until I read a comparison of canned versus dried beans in a Cooking Light magazine.

I have found that using dried beans is WAY cheaper than canned beans. The cheapest I usually find for no name canned beans is about .60 when they are on sale. If you look at brand name beans when they are not on sale, they usually run anywhere from .99-1.49 per can. At least that's what I've found. To buy a 2 kg bag of dried beans is about 2.99-3.99.

Well, I used my genius on-the-spot mathematical abilities in the grocery store, and determined that one 2 kg bag of beans would be the equivalent of 10 or more cans. PLEASE do not ask me how I figured that out. I don't really do numbers, I'm a qualitative researcher, give me a break. To be honest, I pretty much just guessed.

Not convinced? Here's the thing...

1/2 cup of dried beans = 1 2/3 cups cooked beans = 1 16 oz can of beans.

Last night I went to Dollarama and bought a few containers to keep my dried beans, lentils, barley etc., in. These containers are 20 cup containers. When I poured what was left of my 2 kg bag of black beans, it filled the container about 3/4 of the way. Since I have been using these beans for about a month, I'd guess that had it been unopened it would fill the entire container.

Therefore, one can assume that a 2 kg bag of beans is about 20 cups uncooked, which would be 66 cups cooked and 40 cans. That's right!! 40 cans! I guess I underestimated the value when I guessed it would equal 10 cans.

So if one bag = 40 cans of beans, what does that cost? Based on 4.00/bag, it will cost you .10 per can! And that is a high estimate.

Confused yet? Okay, just trust me, it's cheaper!

Aside from the financial benefit of dried beans, there is also a health benefit. The article I mentioned earlier stated that dried beans contain 250-500 mg less sodium per serving than canned beans. Certainly you can reduce the sodium level of canned beans by thoroughly rinsing them, but there's no way you can get it all off.

The downfall of dried beans is that they require planning and time. You can't just quickly open a can and dump them in your soup, chilli, or whatever you're making. You need to soak the beans in water overnight, rinse them thoroughly and then cover them with at least 3 times their amount of water and boil for about 1 1/2 hours until they are soft. *Note: you may want to use an old pot or a dutchoven as I have found some beans (especially black) leave a residue on the pot that is very tough to scrub off). I have found if you are crockpotting, you can boil them less because they will cook and soften in the crockpot. Because you have to do these steps, it means you can't count on them when you're deciding what to eat at the last minute.

BUT... if you have freezer space, you can boil a whole lotta beans at one time and freeze them in whatever size portions you'd like. This makes them as quick and convenient as canned beans. And until I get really used to this dried bean thing I have been keeping a few cans on hand just in case. I have also been gradually adding to my bean stock. Each week I have been buying a new variety of beans so eventually I will have a full pantry of beans!

Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you .... nevermind. Happy Thrifty Thursday!


Tereasa said...

L, I grew up on beans. They're a New Mexican staple. I've never boiled beans. I may be completely wrong on this, but...I always soak them in the crock over night, add more water the next day and turn that baby on!

Just thought you'd like to know there is an easier way and I haven't killed anyone, yet!

Tereasa said...

BTW, it is really cool to see how much we save by buying dried beans. I never realized it was so much!

Gayle said...

Great post. I'm convert too. You asked about the buttery bread machine rolls and yes, I sub 1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup powdered milk in it. Works great.

Your poll at the top intrigued me. The results were not what I had expected.