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Cook with dried beans: How to soak dried beans, and save money!

Updated on July 1, 2012

Cooking With Dried Beans Is a Valuable Skill You Will Use Forever!

I recently learned a skill that has totally transformed my kitchen: Cooking with dried beans. It sounds simple, and it is! Anyone can soak dried beans and use them for cooking. Since I am trying to cut down my grocery budget, incorporating more of this inexpensive pantry item is a great way to start. In this hub, you will learn how to soak dried beans, simmer them over low heat, and end up with a potful of perfectly cooked beans that you can use all week long!

By Katie Brady from Missoula, Montana
By Katie Brady from Missoula, Montana

Beans Are a Inexpensive Substitute for Meat

Loading up on meat at the market can quickly drain a grocery budget. Unfortunately, many families feel that a meal without meat is too unsubstantial. Meat has become a necessity in many homes rather than being an occasional treat. Luckily, beans are hearty and filling, and can easily take the place of meat in many meals.

Some quick and filling meatless meal ideas include chili, tacos, taco bowls, salads with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or other beans, veggies with hummus, and all kinds of soups. You can also use beans to "stretch" ground beef or turkey in meals. If you or a family member just has to have meat, stretching the meat (and your dollar) with beans is a great compromise.

The Nutritional Benefits of Beans

They look humble and unassuming, but beans are extremely healthy. Packed with fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and many other nutrients, beans are considered a super food. They are very helpful for regulating the digestive tract (all the fiber and protein rather than carbohydrates and fat), and stabilizing blood sugar (for the same reasons).

Beans are also low in fat, which makes them a heart-healthy alternative to red meat or poultry. Beans, including the very versatile black (turtle) beans, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.

The chart below, summarized in part from the World's Healthiest Foods website, gives a snapshot of the nutrients in black beans.

Nutrients in Black Beans (1 cup)

% Daily Value
Calories (227)
By Paul Goyette of Chicago
By Paul Goyette of Chicago

How to Soak and Cook Dried Beans

Beans from a can are quick and easy, though beans are most often packaged in cans that contain harmful BPA. Dried beans are even cheaper than canned beans, and it's really easy to soak, cook, and use them for meals throughout the week. You can even freeze room-temperature beans in containers in the freezer for later.

1. Look through the dried beans, picking out any rocks or weird-looking beans.

2. Rinse beans in water until the water runs clear.

3. Put beans in a big bowl or pot, and cover them with water until they are covered by an inch or two.

3. Put in the fridge, covered with a cloth or the lid of the pot, and leave overnight (or until the next night even). The beans will be absorbing water the whole time they are in the fridge, so check them once or twice to make sure they are still covered. Add more water if necessary.

4. After the beans have been soaking for 12 hours or more, drain the water and cover with fresh water. Put the beans on the stove and simmer until tender (i.e. till they are the same consistency as canned beans). For black beans, this can take 2-3 hours, and for garbanzo beans, a mere 30 minutes!

5. Use immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to a week. If you have a lot of extra beans, you can freeze them in glass jars. Just make sure the beans are room-temperature before you put them in the freezer.


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    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 6 years ago from Central PA

      Well, I froze two bags before I left for vacation, so I can report back when I thaw them out! Stay tuned! p.s. you're lucky to have a husband that is interested in soaking beans! You should suggest that he make the entire meal while he's at it ;)

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      Very useful. My husband just starting soaking beans a couple of weeks ago because he doesn't want all the salt from the canned ones. I am going to pass along the tip of freezing them to him. Thanks.

    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 6 years ago from Central PA

      Thanks! Last night was black bean and veggie quesadillas with corn tortillas!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Now this is a great tip esp for those who are not eating meat as much as possible. :D

      Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination! For voting and other details, head this way:

    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 6 years ago from Central PA

      Thanks, Simone! I still buy them in cans sometimes (shhh!), but I try to soak the majority of my beans. It's really easy - you can also cook beans in a slow cooker after you soak them, so you can just put on the timer and forget about! Your total actual work time would be just a few minutes. Let me know if you try it!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm such a huge fan of beans, but I keep buying them in cans. I should really give this a try! Thanks for writing the Hub!

    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 6 years ago from Central PA

      Thanks! I'm starting to get obsessed with having a pot of fresh beans in the fridge. I actually feel slightly stressed out if I know I'm out of beans! Haha!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      This is a good one!

    • profile image

      UrsulaRose 6 years ago

      Fabulous well-written informative first hub hazelbrown. Welcome to Hubpages and if you don't mind I would like to 'follow you' and I look forward to reading many more hubs of yours. :-)