Canned vs. Dried Beans: Which Are Cheaper?
When it comes to cutting your grocery bill, switching from prepared foods to their dried counterparts can often save you a good chunk of change. Looking for a good place to start? It's all about the beans!
Which is Cheaper: Dried or Canned Beans?
Dried beans average at least half to two-thirds of the price of reconstituted (canned) beans. If you're able to purchase in bulk, you're often able to save much more. A recent search at a local grocer yielded a 16 oz. bag of dried black beans for $1.47, while a 15.5 oz. can of black beans cost $0.74.
You're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, the canned beans sound like a better deal!" Not so fast! One 16 oz. bag of beans tends to yield the same amount of beans as three cans. So in this example, you're saving approximately 50% on your beans.
If you purchased three cans of beans per week and made the switch to dried beans, you'd save approximately $25 per year. It may not sound like much, but when you consider that it is only one item out of possibly hundreds that you purchase over the course of a year, it all adds up. (See also: Organic Groceries on a Budget)
Other Benefits to Dried Beans
- Dried beans often store better than canned, and if kept in a cool, dark place, keep good for up to a year or more. If you open a package or buy in bulk, make sure to place them in an airtight container.
- They take up less space. Dried beans fill one-third of the space and don't come in a rigid can form.
- You're helping to reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding the purchase of aluminum cans and the extra storage weight and volume that come from canned beans.
How to Cook Dried Beans
Recipes vary by bean variety, but here are some general rules. Keep in mind that one cup of dried beans will yield two cups of cooked beans.
Step 1: Soaking
There are two ways that you can soak dried beans:
- Overnight: Rinse your beans, place in a container with double the water, and let soak for eight hours or more.
- Quick Soak: Rinse the beans, place in a pot with double the water, and cook on medium for five minutes. Then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let the beans soak for an hour.
Step 2: Cooking the Beans
- Drain the beans from the water they were soaked in and put into a pot.
- Cover with fresh water (about two inches above the beans).
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover with lid partially and cook until tender (usually takes at least an hour).
Time Saving Bean-Cooking Tip
If you want to avoid the time involved in cooking, simply cook up large batches and then freeze the beans. When you want to use them later, all you need to do is defrost, and you're ready to go.