Maybe in your rush through the grocery store you’ve glanced at the dried beans in the store and thought about picking them up.
“I have to soak them? Ugh! Planning…” you say, and grab the precooked chickpeas. “Who even knows how to cook beans anymore? Does anyone even do that?”
Yes, they do. Lefty and I are always looking for ways to maximize the money we spend on groceries and share those tips with others. One way to make better use of your food dollars is, yes, buying dried beans instead of canned. Not because we love cooking beans, but because we found a way to do it without having to stand guard at the stove for an hour or worry about the pan boiling dry. And it takes less than FIVE minutes!
First, let’s look at the value comparison. I’ll use our local Kroger for pricing. You may have higher or lower prices depending on your area. Once you see the difference, you may not settle for using canned again.
$1.29 for 15.5 oz can = 1.75 cups.
$1.39 for 16 oz. WHEN COOKED: 6 cups. Six cups!
1 cup dry =$0.69
1 cup makes 3 cups of cooked chickpeas. It would cost $0.40 for the same amount of chickpeas you get in a can. That’s a savings of about $0.89. Depending on the brand your grocery carries they’re as much as $3.49, or a $3.09 difference.
Here’s what I like most. Say I buy one can of chickpeas. I can make either a salad topper mix, hummus or a chickpea mash. But if I make one cup of dried chickpeas, I now have 3 cups of chickpeas. I can actually make all three. Even though I have to take the time to cook the chickpeas, I have 3 different things I could make with them. I really value being able to make one thing that can then be used in different ways.
You haven’t spent more money, and you are getting a great return on your investment.
With chickpeas, you can make hummus, falafel (delicious little patties) and make amazing snacks. If you don’t or can’t use three cups at once, they freeze fantastically well.
How do we make these so easily? Load the slow cooker (crockpot) and forget about it for HOURS! That takes less than five minutes. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you really want to consider investing in one. You can probably get one from your mom, a thrift store or department store. Some are no-control heat and others let you choose low, medium or high, and some have temperature choices. Shop around and find one in a size that works for you. You want one that will hold at least a quart, slightly bigger is better. You can safely use a (UL approved) slow cooker during the day while you’re at work (I love coming home to food already cooked!) or overnight.
If you do have a slow cooker languishing in the back of your cabinet or pantry, rejoice. You can start using it today.
Water or broth
Measure out 1 cup of dried beans.
Add 3 cups of water or vegetable broth
Add 2 tsp salt
Turn on and check it after a few hours to make sure water level covers the beans throughout the day. If it has dropped below, just add more water. Check the beans and they’re done when they reach the desired tenderness, 4-6 hours.
In addition, you can use your slow cooker (unplugged) to soak beans overnight. Use the soak water for houseplants. Refill with water or vegetable broth. Plug in, and turn on. Beans will take time but they cook on their own so you can do other things. Stay tuned to this website for more simple recipes for chickpeas and other plant-based food.