Dried beans can be an intimidating food storage item for many people. In our experience people typically either do not like them, do not know how to cook them properly, or do not know what types of foods to make using them. We want to share with you FIVE reasons why beans should be a staple in YOUR food storage (if they aren’t already) and hopefully give you some tips along the way that will help you overcome some of those common challenges.
photo credit cookbookman
1. BEANS ARE HEALTHY
Beans, peas, and lentils are the richest source of vegetable protein and are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. If you don’t have any stored meats or nuts you will definitely need to include beans in your food storage. Here are just a few reasons why beans are so healthy. You can learn more about the health benefits by reading the book Country Beans by Rita Bingham. We highly recommend it if you are storing beans at all.
- Low Calorie Food: The amount of nutrition you get for the amount of calories is quite significant. When used as a thickener for soups or a substitution for meat beans can be very beneficial
- Great Protein: Beans are an excellent source of protein, forming a complete protein when combined with rice, corn, and many other foods. Getting protein this way can help you avoid some of the fatty meat proteins.
- High in Fiber: One cup of beans provide the same amount of fiber as 3 standard doses of Metamucil.
- Low in Fat: Nearly all beans contain only 2-3% fat! You can used mashed beans as a replacement for butter or oil in many baked goods to reduce the fat content.
- Lower Cholesterol: Not only do beans contain NO cholesterol, “they actually help the body get rid of what is considered bad cholesterol.
2. BEANS CAN BE STORED VIRTUALLY INDEFINITELY
When stored in a cool, dry place, beans will basically stay good forever. If you have an older supply of beans they may require more time to soak and more time to cook. We have found that using an electric pressure cooker will help your beans to turn out great every time, regardless of their age.
Ideal conditions for long term food storage are to store your legumes sealed in mylar pouches inside of 5 gallon buckets. Using oxygen absorbers can also help maintain the freshness of the items. We also recommend keeping smaller containers in your kitchen or pantry so that you can use them in your daily cooking to practice and rotate.
3. BEANS ARE VERSATILE
Beans are not only good for eating as part of a Mexican dish or in soups and chilis. There are many other ways beans can be used that you may not have thought of.
- Mash up cooked beans to replace butter/oil in recipes. Cook up dry beans and then add a little of the water used for cooking and puree them in a blender or food processor. Use cup for cup to replace the oil or butter in a recipe. Start with only replacing half the fat and gradually move up to the entire amount.
- Grow into sprouts for a fresh “vegetable”. Legumes are a great item to sprout and can then be eaten fresh, thrown into soups, added to sandwiches, or pureed and snuck into many different foods. Older beans may have a more difficult time to sprout. Click here for a post we shared about sprouting lentils.
- Grind white beans into bean flour to make white sauces, homemade cream of chicken soup, or to use as a thickener for soups and stews.
4. BEANS ARE CHEAP
There are many varieties of beans or legumes that you can buy. You will find different uses for different types so it never hurts to just buy whatever ones are on sale. You may find dried beans in small 1 lb bags at the grocery store for $1. Pick up a bag or two every time you go to the store and you will quickly have a large supply. You can also buy them from many long term food storage companies already packed in 5 gallon buckets and ready for your storage. Some of the varieties of beans and legumes you may see are as follows:
- Split Peas
- Lima Beans
- Dry Soy Beans
- Chick Peas
- Regular Dry Beans (black, pinto, navy, red, white, etc.)
5. BEANS ARE DELICIOUS
One of our favorite recipes that uses beans in two different forms is a delicious Enchilada Pie. You use dried beans and also make homemade cream of chicken soup out of bean flour. Give it a try and you just might fall in love with your food storage beans!
-Jodi Weiss Schroeder