Step 6: Legumes/Meats

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Purchase your legumes and learn how to use them: dried beans, bean soup mixes, lentils, soy beans, etc. Since legumes are mainly used as a source of protein, you may also wish to add some meats to your storage as an alternative protein source.

Key Points

  • Beans, peas and lentils are the richest source of vegetable protein and are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
  • Utilizing dried beans and soaking them overnight is the best way to get the true bean flavor and a smooth texture
  • When legumes are eaten with grains, nuts or seeds, a complete protein can be formed which can suitably replace meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy.
  • Legumes aren’t just used for soups. Some other uses are:
    • Grind into bean flour for white sauces
    • Mash up cooked beans to replace butter/oil in recipes
    • Grow into sprouts for a fresh “vegetable”
  • One easy way to start using dried beans is to use them in place of canned beans in your normal recipes (see conversion chart below)
  • Generally, legumes will keep indefinitely when stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Meats can be used to supplement or replace legumes as a protein source in your storage. Meats can be stored in the following ways:
    • Canned meats (either purchased or home-canned)
    • Dehydrated meats (beef or turkey jerkey, either homemade or store-bought)
    • Freeze-dried meats (many varieties available to purchase)
    • Fresh meat from animals you raise
  • Determine the quantities of each food item you will need to store. For more information, see BabyStep 4.

Helpful Hints

Since the bulk of the recommended legume storage is beans, here is a basic summary of Do’s and Don’ts.

BEAN DO’S:

  • Store dry beans in a cool, dry place.
  • Lightly rinse packaged dry beans; sort through them and remove any pebbles, seed pods, leaves or twigs.
  • Soak your beans! It reduces cooking time by about one half, and saves vitamins, minerals and proteins which can be lost during prolonged heating — exceptions are lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas which may be cooked from their dry state.
  • Soak beans in plenty of water. Use a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of water to beans (see chart for soaking times).
  • Place presoaked beans in a pot and cover with fresh, cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer them for the indicated length of time until they are soft and tender.

BEAN DON’TS:

  • Store dry beans in the refrigerator.
  • Add baking soda to hasten soaking or cooking time as it will decrease the nutritional content of the beans.
  • Add salt or any product high in calcium, magnesium or acid to the soaking or cooking water or beans will not soften (products with these elements should be added to cooking water or any recipe calling for partially cooked beans only after beans have reached desired tenderness).
  • Use microwave to cook dry beans – microwaving is fine for reheating beans that are already cooked, but dry beans need to be simmered slowly in lots of water to soften, tenderize and rehydrate properly.

Dry Soup Mix

  • Soup mixes are used to flavor soups made with your beans.
  • There are many types such as chicken base, beef base, ham base, onion soup mix, cream based.
  • If you want to create your own mixes visit allrecipes.com.

Dried Beans Overview

Dried beans are a great source of protein, especially when combined with a whole grain. They have a long 30 year shelf life and can be used for many things. Here is a list of the most common types of dried beans:
Pinto beans, Black beans, Red beans, Navy beans, Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans, Great northern white beans, Lima beans, Mung beans, and Soybeans

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a member of the pea family and is typically eaten as sprouts.
Uses: Alfalfa sprouts can be used to top sandwiches and burgers similar to lettuce. They are also good thrown into salads or soups. You can even set them on a plate and use as an edible garnish for a main meat dish.
Health Benefits: Alfalfa contains high levels of phytoestrogens, saponins, and antioxidants.

Lentils

Lentils are small, flat legumes that come in a wide variety of colors such as red, green, brown, yellow, etc.
Uses: Lentils can be flavored many different ways. You can make a sweet salad by combining them with fruits, or a savory soup or casserole. They can also be used as a meat filler or substitute to add bulk to your meals.
Health Benefits: Lentils are high in fiber and magnesium, yet low in calories and fat.

Split peas

Split peas are regular peas that have been dried after harvesting. After they are dried and the skins removed, they split naturally. They can usually be found in both yellow and green varieties.
Uses: The most common use for split peas is the famous split pea soup. You can also make a puree of cooked split peas as a side dish, or make “dahl”, a traditional Indian dish.
Health Benefits: Split peas (like lentils) are high in fiber and low in calories and fat. They also provide a good source of 4 minerals, 2 B-vitamins, and isoflavones.

Diagrams/Charts

beanchart1

More Information

Where to Buy Legumes

Helpful Products

ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER: You will use your dried beans much more often if you have a good (and fast) way to cook them. An electric pressure cooker allows you to skip the soaking step and fully cook them in 1-2 hours (depending on the variety and age of the beans).
WONDERMILL GRAIN MILL:  An electric mill will enable you to easily grind up legumes to use for bean flour.

 

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  • Dena

    Can you recommend a source for buying the bouillon and soup mixes  in bulk? I have found a couple places but they want to charge about $5 a pound for basic chicken and beef bouillon. Even if I make my own mixes most still need to start with bouillon. Thanks

    • I think specialty health food or groceries stores may be a good option. If you have a Winco in your area they have some great prices on spices and soup mixes. I haven’t seen any really cheap options online. Good luck!

  • Kathy West

    My kids love nuts, all kinds. Also really like the trail mix from Walmart that contains dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and chocolate. I would really like to store for long term but unable to find out how. Dry can with vacumm sealer, Freeze? And how long will it last?

    Kathy

    • I would recommend storing them in quart canning jars and using a food saver jar attachment to seal them. Should extend the shelf life quite a bit!

      • Red_rooster1998

        How can you store Craisins for long term? Do they need to be dried more? Thanks.

  • Timbob

    I’ve read that you can keep beans in the freezer if they are in vac-sealed bags. Is this true? 

  • nutritarian_mom2_5

    My family is mostly vegan.  I have been trying to find a calculator or conversion chart online that will help me determine how many more lbs. of beans I need to store in order to replace meat products in our food storage.  Any suggestions?  

    • The legumes/beans suggested in most standard food storage calculators actually take the place of any meat. If you look at our step 4 page you will notice there are no meats listed. So if you store the amount reoommended there you should be covered for your protein needs.

  • Jan

    On the conversion chart I read that
    1 cup dried beans = l pound = 2 cups cooked = 1 can

    then on the last two lines it seems to contradict the previous 4 lines, saying instead
    that
    2 1/2 cups dried =1 pound instead of the 1 cups listed above
    and that
    1 pound = 5 1/2-6 cups cooked instead of the 2 cups listed above

    Did I read that wrong?

  • Jan

    On the conversion chart I read that
    1 cup dried beans = l pound = 2 cups cooked = 1 can

    then on the last two lines it seems to contradict the previous 4 lines, saying instead
    that
    2 1/2 cups dried =1 pound instead of the 1 cups listed above
    and that
    1 pound = 5 1/2-6 cups cooked instead of the 2 cups listed above

    Did I read that wrong?

    • It is a little confusing because one is measuring COOKED pounds and one is
      measuring RAW pounds. Since raw beans are so dense and heavy 1 cup of them
      when cooked expands a lot and becomes about 1 pound. But if you started
      with an entire 1 pound of dry beans, once it cooked it would expand and fill
      up a lot more space than just 1 cup. Does that make sense?

  • Purchase your legumes and learn how to use them: dried beans, bean soup mixes, lentils, soy beans, etc.

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  • Thanks for sharing this list.

  • Bravo, Bros! keep going like this, more good info again.

  • brchbell

    I cook up 10 pounds of beans at a time. I bag them into 1 cup zip lock bags and freeze them. I keep red, black, pinto and white beans in my freezer at all times. the bags thaw quickly and I can mash them up and add them to most of my meals. I use 1 pound hamburger with 1/4 cup mashed red beans and 1/2 cup each finely grated, carrots, onions and squash and mix together and make hamburgers from it. Very good and no one knows there is beans & veggies in it.

  • Anonymous

    I cook up 10 pounds of beans at a time. I bag them into 1 cup zip lock bags and freeze them. I keep red, black, pinto and white beans in my freezer at all times. the bags thaw quickly and I can mash them up and add them to most of my meals. I use 1 pound hamburger with 1/4 cup mashed red beans and 1/2 cup each finely grated, carrots, onions and squash and mix together and make hamburgers from it. Very good and no one knows there is beans & veggies in it.

    • They are wonderful for storage because you don’t need to soak them or use much energy to prepare them.

  • Doc

    We live where there is a plentitude of palo verde trees. They are a legume, similar to peas. I have eaten them raw and they are even sweeter. Want harvest and store some. Remember Mom freezing peas [after blanching or?].

    So i want to do that as well as dry them. Any advice?

  • Doc

    We live where there is a plentitude of palo verde trees. They are a legume, similar to peas. I have eaten them raw and they are even sweeter. Want harvest and store some. Remember Mom freezing peas [after blanching or?].

    So i want to do that as well as dry them. Any advice?

  • cgsacramento

    Google “the daily green” Try their Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

    I have been making this soup minus celery and red pepper (cayenne). It is hearty and comforting. I usually use fresh sweet potatoes but have experimented with canned. It is still very good. Since you are using lentils, there is no pre soaking and it takes just a couple of hours from start to finish.
    It is a favorite for my family. cgsacramento

  • cgsacramento

    Google “the daily green” Try their Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil SoupI have been making this soup minus celery and red pepper (cayenne). It is hearty and comforting. I usually use fresh sweet potatoes but have experimented with canned. It is still very good. Since you are using lentils, there is no pre soaking and it takes just a couple of hours from start to finish.It is a favorite for my family. cgsacramento

  • carolegentry

    Google “the daily green” Try their Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

    I have been making this soup minus celery and red pepper (cayenne). It is hearty and comforting. I usually use fresh sweet potatoes but have experimented with canned. It is still very good. Since you are using lentils, there is no pre soaking and it takes just a couple of hours from start to finish.
    It is a favorite for my family. Carole

  • Kristi Brown

    Yes–the salt and the space.

  • Christina

    For the cheapest dried beans, try an ethnic grocery in your area – Latino and Asian cultures use beans much more frequently than Americans!

  • Christina

    For the cheapest dried beans, try an ethnic grocery in your area – Latino and Asian cultures use beans much more frequently than Americans!

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  • Lisa H.

    Canned beans take up more room than dry beans. They are wonderful for storage because you don’t need to soak them or use much energy to prepare them. The book, Food Storage in a Nutshell, gives great information about storing different kinds of foods. For example how many cans of beans equals a pound of dry beans and how much TVP equals a pound of beans.

    I store dehydrated refried beans, tvp, canned meat, shelf stable tofu, and canned beans. I have some dried beans.

    Years ago I tried the bean flour recipes. Nice idea, but it didn’t pan out in the long run like making my own bread, yogurt, and granola did. Finding what works for you is key to being successful with rotating your food storage. So if that is a can of beans, go for it!

  • Lisa H.

    Canned beans take up more room than dry beans. They are wonderful for storage because you don’t need to soak them or use much energy to prepare them. The book, Food Storage in a Nutshell, gives great information about storing different kinds of foods. For example how many cans of beans equals a pound of dry beans and how much TVP equals a pound of beans.

    I store dehydrated refried beans, tvp, canned meat, shelf stable tofu, and canned beans. I have some dried beans.

    Years ago I tried the bean flour recipes. Nice idea, but it didn’t pan out in the long run like making my own bread, yogurt, and granola did. Finding what works for you is key to being successful with rotating your food storage. So if that is a can of beans, go for it!

  • Heather

    Is there a reason we couldn’t just store canned beans aside from the higher price?

  • Heather

    Is there a reason we couldn’t just store canned beans aside from the higher price?

    • Kristi Brown

      Yes–the salt and the space.

  • Cami

    My favorite way to prepare beans:
    In morning put some beans in a pot and cover with a few inches of water (think 1:6 bean to water ratio). Add one whole onion halved and a couple of garlic cloves, broken. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and just leave it – until they’re soft, sometime later that day. I add salt near the end of cooking time, to taste.

    For refried beans, I drain them (save the cooking liquid to add if the beans are too dry), and either mash them with a potato masher, or toss them in the blender for extra creamy beans. You can season them if you like with cumin, chili powder, oregano, etc.

    Use these as a base for 7 layer dip (we often eat this as a main dish – heavy on the beans, light on the sour cream), or serve on toasted corn tortillas and topped with a fried egg and toppings for huevos rancheros. Or leave the beans unmashed and rinse to add to any recipe the way you would use canned beans (think salads, burritos, fat replacements in baked goods, etc).

  • Cami

    My favorite way to prepare beans:
    In morning put some beans in a pot and cover with a few inches of water (think 1:6 bean to water ratio). Add one whole onion halved and a couple of garlic cloves, broken. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and just leave it – until they’re soft, sometime later that day. I add salt near the end of cooking time, to taste.

    For refried beans, I drain them (save the cooking liquid to add if the beans are too dry), and either mash them with a potato masher, or toss them in the blender for extra creamy beans. You can season them if you like with cumin, chili powder, oregano, etc.

    Use these as a base for 7 layer dip (we often eat this as a main dish – heavy on the beans, light on the sour cream), or serve on toasted corn tortillas and topped with a fried egg and toppings for huevos rancheros. Or leave the beans unmashed and rinse to add to any recipe the way you would use canned beans (think salads, burritos, fat replacements in baked goods, etc).

  • Laura

    I also have struggled with using beans in everyday cooking. Here are some things I have learned by trial and error. For me It is easiest to make 2-3 times as many beans as I need and freeze the remainder. If you spread the cooked beans out on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid and then scoop them into a freezer bag it gives you the versatility of canned beans but the cost effectiveness of dry beans. Just take the bag out of the freezer and add to any casserole or soup you are making. I love the convenience this creates.

    The second thing is that I found a great website with hundreds of recipes using beans that broadened my ideas on how to use them (I used to think beans were for soup and Mexican food only). Check it out for some great ideas. http://www.vegetablewithmore.com

  • Laura

    I also have struggled with using beans in everyday cooking. Here are some things I have learned by trial and error. For me It is easiest to make 2-3 times as many beans as I need and freeze the remainder. If you spread the cooked beans out on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid and then scoop them into a freezer bag it gives you the versatility of canned beans but the cost effectiveness of dry beans. Just take the bag out of the freezer and add to any casserole or soup you are making. I love the convenience this creates.

    The second thing is that I found a great website with hundreds of recipes using beans that broadened my ideas on how to use them (I used to think beans were for soup and Mexican food only). Check it out for some great ideas. http://www.vegetablewithmore.com

  • Phoebe

    Beans can be used in so many ways and are so nutritious and cheap that they are worth any hassle in preparing them. And in a pinch, there are always the canned ones. Rinse well to get rid of the salt. Lots of great tips above.
    I have a book called “Full of Beans” which is the greatest book ever for bean recipes. Every course can be made with beans, things you never thought of. Desserts made from mashed beans or bean flour have surprised a lot of visitors at my house, they’re so delicious!
    Mash them and use in place of part of the meat in main dishes (meatloaf, meat pie, etc), or most of the fat in baking recipes. Don’t think boring when you think beans.
    I often add them to tossed salads for lunches to get a little extra protein and fiber.

  • Phoebe

    Beans can be used in so many ways and are so nutritious and cheap that they are worth any hassle in preparing them. And in a pinch, there are always the canned ones. Rinse well to get rid of the salt. Lots of great tips above.
    I have a book called “Full of Beans” which is the greatest book ever for bean recipes. Every course can be made with beans, things you never thought of. Desserts made from mashed beans or bean flour have surprised a lot of visitors at my house, they’re so delicious!
    Mash them and use in place of part of the meat in main dishes (meatloaf, meat pie, etc), or most of the fat in baking recipes. Don’t think boring when you think beans.
    I often add them to tossed salads for lunches to get a little extra protein and fiber.

  • Jamie

    An idea that was shared with me on canning your beans and why its a good idea. If there were to be an emergency and you have to live off your water supply your water will be limited. Think of all the water it takes to soak your beans in. If you have your beans canned you dont have to soak them. Also having them canned is just so handy. I plan my meals for the week so I know what I am going to make but I never know until that night what I am actually going to cook.

    This site is WONDERFUL!!! So full of info. Thanks so much for putting your time and effort into this. It truly blesses everyone who comes to your site. And you will be blessed for helping so many people with their food supply.

  • Jamie

    An idea that was shared with me on canning your beans and why its a good idea. If there were to be an emergency and you have to live off your water supply your water will be limited. Think of all the water it takes to soak your beans in. If you have your beans canned you dont have to soak them. Also having them canned is just so handy. I plan my meals for the week so I know what I am going to make but I never know until that night what I am actually going to cook.

    This site is WONDERFUL!!! So full of info. Thanks so much for putting your time and effort into this. It truly blesses everyone who comes to your site. And you will be blessed for helping so many people with their food supply.

  • Jen

    I just realized no one had a “quick bean soak” At least for my Ham soup recipe above, it will work. If you forget to soak overnight, which I do, simmer the beans in the water for 2 minutes, cover and then remove from heat. Let beans stand for 1 hour.

    Because there is still more slow cooking in the recipe, it works marvelously.

  • Jen

    I just realized no one had a “quick bean soak” At least for my Ham soup recipe above, it will work. If you forget to soak overnight, which I do, simmer the beans in the water for 2 minutes, cover and then remove from heat. Let beans stand for 1 hour.

    Because there is still more slow cooking in the recipe, it works marvelously.

  • Jen

    I need more recipes with beans. I can do soups and chili but do you have any “side dish recipes”? By the way I have the best ham soup recipe. It uses only 6 ingredients:

    2lbs dry navy beans, 4 qts cold water, 1 meaty ham bone, 1/2 tsp salt & pepper, 1 medium onion (chopped)

    Wash beans, add water & soak overnight. DO NOT DRAIN. Add ham bone, salt & pepper. Cover & simmer 3 hrs. Add onion & continue simmer 1/2 hour more. Remove bone. Mash beans slightly until liquid is milky looking. Cut ham off bone and add to soup. Season to taste.

  • Jen

    I need more recipes with beans. I can do soups and chili but do you have any “side dish recipes”? By the way I have the best ham soup recipe. It uses only 6 ingredients:

    2lbs dry navy beans, 4 qts cold water, 1 meaty ham bone, 1/2 tsp salt & pepper, 1 medium onion (chopped)

    Wash beans, add water & soak overnight. DO NOT DRAIN. Add ham bone, salt & pepper. Cover & simmer 3 hrs. Add onion & continue simmer 1/2 hour more. Remove bone. Mash beans slightly until liquid is milky looking. Cut ham off bone and add to soup. Season to taste.

  • mom2hrz

    I use beans when making cookies and such. You can cook white beans, mash them and use them in place of the shortening/butter in the recipe. When I pair it with items like chocolate chips, coconut, raisins, peanut butter, etc…the kids don’t even realize.

  • mom2hrz

    I use beans when making cookies and such. You can cook white beans, mash them and use them in place of the shortening/butter in the recipe. When I pair it with items like chocolate chips, coconut, raisins, peanut butter, etc…the kids don’t even realize.

  • I am not totally sure, but at least a year. I would think it would be closer to two or three years. I’ll have to find out for sure.

  • I am not totally sure, but at least a year. I would think it would be closer to two or three years. I’ll have to find out for sure.

  • Tara

    What is the shelf life for beans that you can yourself?

  • Tara

    What is the shelf life for beans that you can yourself?

  • I have recently started canning my pinto beans, because it just is such a hassle to get them cooked in order to use them in recipes. I am amazed at how easy it is to can them! I put 1 1/4 cups of dried beans in each quart jar, add 1 teaspoon salt, then fill with water up to 1 inch of headspace. Put on the lids and rings, then pressure cook them at 15 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. They are perfect and so easy to use! Yesterday I dumped them into my kitchen aid mixer, added salsa and cheese, mixed them and then microwaved to use them in burritos! Yum!

    I am trying to find out the amount of lentils to use in a quart or pint jar for canning, if anyone knows.

  • I have recently started canning my pinto beans, because it just is such a hassle to get them cooked in order to use them in recipes. I am amazed at how easy it is to can them! I put 1 1/4 cups of dried beans in each quart jar, add 1 teaspoon salt, then fill with water up to 1 inch of headspace. Put on the lids and rings, then pressure cook them at 15 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. They are perfect and so easy to use! Yesterday I dumped them into my kitchen aid mixer, added salsa and cheese, mixed them and then microwaved to use them in burritos! Yum!

    I am trying to find out the amount of lentils to use in a quart or pint jar for canning, if anyone knows.

    • Sandra

      I tried canning pintos in quarts and pints according to Caitlin’s recommendations. Worked great! Loving having them on hand and ready to use.

  • Morning Sunshine

    I have tried all sorts of ways to get beans soft enough to eat. None of them worked until this one. I do not have to think of it too far in advance, and this has worked EVERY time (except the one time I forgot to plug it in!)
    I rinse 2 cups of beans and then put them in the bottom of my 3-qt crock-pot (or, 1 c of beans in my 1.5 qt.), then fill the crock-pot with cold water. I turn it on before bed, and in the morning, I have soft, cooked beans. I rinse these off before I add them to my meals. Sometimes I have forgotten the night before, but if I get these started at breakfast, they are done in time to make dinner that night.
    I have used white, black and pinto. I have some garbanzo I have been meaning to try, but have not yet.

  • Morning Sunshine

    I have tried all sorts of ways to get beans soft enough to eat. None of them worked until this one. I do not have to think of it too far in advance, and this has worked EVERY time (except the one time I forgot to plug it in!)
    I rinse 2 cups of beans and then put them in the bottom of my 3-qt crock-pot (or, 1 c of beans in my 1.5 qt.), then fill the crock-pot with cold water. I turn it on before bed, and in the morning, I have soft, cooked beans. I rinse these off before I add them to my meals. Sometimes I have forgotten the night before, but if I get these started at breakfast, they are done in time to make dinner that night.
    I have used white, black and pinto. I have some garbanzo I have been meaning to try, but have not yet.

  • Angel

    I have a pressure cooker/canner that I have not used yet but I think canning the cooked beans is a great idea.
    Using the freezer method is good too but in that case I would do both in case your electricity goes out. If that happens you lose your food.
    (Or find yourself trying to can lots of meat etc so it doesnt spoil.)

  • Angel

    I have a pressure cooker/canner that I have not used yet but I think canning the cooked beans is a great idea.
    Using the freezer method is good too but in that case I would do both in case your electricity goes out. If that happens you lose your food.
    (Or find yourself trying to can lots of meat etc so it doesnt spoil.)

  • Tegan

    Dried beans are a big part of my family’s diet- we’re vegetarian! There are LOTS of ways to use these besides soups, try:
    *burritos, tacos, and nachos- replace the usual hamburger, or go half-and-half
    *having salad for lunch? toss some beans into the bowl- lentils, black, kidney, garbanzo, blackeye peas all work well
    *bean dips (think hummus or black bean dip), these are great with chips or crackers, or as the base for a wrap
    *when making burgers, mix in 1/2 to 1c lightly mashed black beans to make them go farther and add fiber- or go all-out and try your hand at veggie burgers! vegweb.com has lots of good recipes for these and other vegetarian approaches to the humble bean
    *stir cannellini or garbanzos into a batch of spaghetti in place of hamburger
    *spicy black beans- or leftover bean soup or chili- on top of baked potatoes, with a little sour cream or cheese
    *make “chicken” noodle soup the same way as usual- but use garbanzos instead of chicken
    *make bean salad- equal parts black, kidney, and garbanzo beans with chopped scallions, celery, diced bell pepper, and Italian or ranch dressing
    *if you run out of ideas, think ethnic- Indian and Latin cuisines rely heavily on beans and are usually very economical
    As far as preparing dry beans, I’ve taken a different approach: day one, I soak them overnight, day two I cook them in the slow cooker until just tender (doesn’t require attendance or heat up the house), day three I divide the now cooked beans into labeled freezer bags and into the deep freeze they go (if you lay them flat, they take up less room). When I’m ready to use them, they thaw quickly under the kitchen faucet- or if I’m making soup, they get tossed in frozen. I’ve found that 1lb of dry beans yields about 6c cooked- or 4x what you get in those over-salted cans. Since my family is on a strict budget and must avoid excessive salt for health reasons, this has been the most practical use of my time and our money.

  • Tegan

    Dried beans are a big part of my family’s diet- we’re vegetarian! There are LOTS of ways to use these besides soups, try:
    *burritos, tacos, and nachos- replace the usual hamburger, or go half-and-half
    *having salad for lunch? toss some beans into the bowl- lentils, black, kidney, garbanzo, blackeye peas all work well
    *bean dips (think hummus or black bean dip), these are great with chips or crackers, or as the base for a wrap
    *when making burgers, mix in 1/2 to 1c lightly mashed black beans to make them go farther and add fiber- or go all-out and try your hand at veggie burgers! vegweb.com has lots of good recipes for these and other vegetarian approaches to the humble bean
    *stir cannellini or garbanzos into a batch of spaghetti in place of hamburger
    *spicy black beans- or leftover bean soup or chili- on top of baked potatoes, with a little sour cream or cheese
    *make “chicken” noodle soup the same way as usual- but use garbanzos instead of chicken
    *make bean salad- equal parts black, kidney, and garbanzo beans with chopped scallions, celery, diced bell pepper, and Italian or ranch dressing
    *if you run out of ideas, think ethnic- Indian and Latin cuisines rely heavily on beans and are usually very economical
    As far as preparing dry beans, I’ve taken a different approach: day one, I soak them overnight, day two I cook them in the slow cooker until just tender (doesn’t require attendance or heat up the house), day three I divide the now cooked beans into labeled freezer bags and into the deep freeze they go (if you lay them flat, they take up less room). When I’m ready to use them, they thaw quickly under the kitchen faucet- or if I’m making soup, they get tossed in frozen. I’ve found that 1lb of dry beans yields about 6c cooked- or 4x what you get in those over-salted cans. Since my family is on a strict budget and must avoid excessive salt for health reasons, this has been the most practical use of my time and our money.

  • I also had trouble using dry beans since you have to think ahead and soak them. My solution has been home canning them – with a pressure canner. It is fantastic! Homemade convenience food – just open a can and you are ready to go. We like to make a jar of pinto beans – place in pan without draining, add brown sugar, bbq sauce, mustard, salt and pepper – easy and yummy!

  • I also had trouble using dry beans since you have to think ahead and soak them. My solution has been home canning them – with a pressure canner. It is fantastic! Homemade convenience food – just open a can and you are ready to go. We like to make a jar of pinto beans – place in pan without draining, add brown sugar, bbq sauce, mustard, salt and pepper – easy and yummy!

  • Janette

    I would always forget to soak my beans overnight, so we had them very rarely. I have used a pressure cooker for the last few months, and that has made using beans infinitely easier.

    I can go from dried beans to the table in 40 minutes, which is often how long my other preparations take.

    In many recipes I will replace half of the meat with some sort of bean. Then we still get the meat taste, plus the benefit of the beans.

    I will often make a less-spiced version, then I can add the beans to whatever else we are eating. The way I like black beans best is just with natural sea salt.

    The hardest part about getting used to using beans is messing up the first couple of times. They’re either too hard or too smushy; too spicy or just bland.

    I figure they’re super cheap, so my first few mistakes were very inexpensive. And now I know how to use them so I am not forced into something I am unfamiliar with.

    I also know that beans can be bottled (pressure cooked), then it’s just like popping a can from the grocery store. No waiting! I haven’t tried this yet, though.

  • Janette

    I would always forget to soak my beans overnight, so we had them very rarely. I have used a pressure cooker for the last few months, and that has made using beans infinitely easier.

    I can go from dried beans to the table in 40 minutes, which is often how long my other preparations take.

    In many recipes I will replace half of the meat with some sort of bean. Then we still get the meat taste, plus the benefit of the beans.

    I will often make a less-spiced version, then I can add the beans to whatever else we are eating. The way I like black beans best is just with natural sea salt.

    The hardest part about getting used to using beans is messing up the first couple of times. They’re either too hard or too smushy; too spicy or just bland.

    I figure they’re super cheap, so my first few mistakes were very inexpensive. And now I know how to use them so I am not forced into something I am unfamiliar with.

    I also know that beans can be bottled (pressure cooked), then it’s just like popping a can from the grocery store. No waiting! I haven’t tried this yet, though.

  • Heather

    If your family likes Indian food, then you can find lots of yummy lentil recipes. My new food storage goal is to make Mexican refried beans from scratch.

  • Heather

    If your family likes Indian food, then you can find lots of yummy lentil recipes. My new food storage goal is to make Mexican refried beans from scratch.

  • Melodie

    I am a heavy deal seeker when I shop. Our stockpile has been growing steadily over the past year. But these foundational items are hard to come by cheap. Where do you go to get large quantities of beans, grains, etc. at cost effective pricing?

  • Melodie

    I am a heavy deal seeker when I shop. Our stockpile has been growing steadily over the past year. But these foundational items are hard to come by cheap. Where do you go to get large quantities of beans, grains, etc. at cost effective pricing?

    • Kerry

      we have a URM store where they sell 25# bags

  • Jodi

    Heidi, Yes there is a difference! Sprouting wheat is similar to sprouting alfalfa, beans, or other seeds. Wheat sprouts are best when the root is only as long as the seed. To prevent further growth you store them in the fridge. Wheat grass literally looks like grass and is extremely nutritious. You can watch a video with instructions for growing it here http://simplylivingsmart.com/food-storage-videos/growing-wheat-grass.html (you might have to login to view it but it’s free, don’t worry). Sneak preview … more about sprouts coming soon!

  • Jodi

    Heidi, Yes there is a difference! Sprouting wheat is similar to sprouting alfalfa, beans, or other seeds. Wheat sprouts are best when the root is only as long as the seed. To prevent further growth you store them in the fridge. Wheat grass literally looks like grass and is extremely nutritious. You can watch a video with instructions for growing it here http://simplylivingsmart.com/food-storage-videos/growing-wheat-grass.html (you might have to login to view it but it’s free, don’t worry). Sneak preview … more about sprouts coming soon!

  • Heidi

    Is there a difference between sprouting wheat and wheat grass?

  • Heidi

    Is there a difference between sprouting wheat and wheat grass?

  • Jodi

    Thanks for the comments on sprouting. We will be doing some more posts about that in the coming weeks but we should probably add a bit about it here in the babystep page as well. Sprouts and wheat grass are a great way to get some fresh greens into your diet in an emergency situation.

  • Jodi

    Thanks for the comments on sprouting. We will be doing some more posts about that in the coming weeks but we should probably add a bit about it here in the babystep page as well. Sprouts and wheat grass are a great way to get some fresh greens into your diet in an emergency situation.

  • Lori

    I’ve sprouted lentils before. They taste a lot like fresh peas. The lentils I used to buy in Canada always had little rocks in them. I could never perfectly pick them all out. It was sort of interesting to eat the lentil soup. I never could get soy beans to sprout.

  • Lori

    I’ve sprouted lentils before. They taste a lot like fresh peas. The lentils I used to buy in Canada always had little rocks in them. I could never perfectly pick them all out. It was sort of interesting to eat the lentil soup. I never could get soy beans to sprout.

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