Beans, Beans…& Our Allergy Home Meal Plan

‘Tis the season for staying indoors more.  I say it’s also the season for stocking up your freezer.  Since soups, chilis, casseroles, and the like are typically seen on meal plans this time of year, why not plan ahead a bit and save on time, money, and your health.  There is no better place to start than with beans.  I encourage you to buy dried beans of all varieties in the largest quantity/best price per ounce that you can find.

How to save when using dried beans:

  1. Buy a large variety of dried beans (for their long shelf life) for the best price per ounce that you can find.  Some varieties I suggest are black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and northern white beans.  I also suggest including a multi-bean variety bag (they usually contain about 10-16 bean varieties).
  2. You are going to cook your dried beans in a crockpot, so you’ll need to know how large your crockpot is.  For my 6 qt pot, I measure out about 4-6 cups of dried beans.  Adjust according to your size, keeping in mind that 1 cup dried beans equals approximately 2 cups cooked beans.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the dried beans and remove any rocks or dirt.  Pour the rinsed beans into your crockpot and fill up with cold water, doubling the amount of water to beans.  Add in a few tablespoons of vinegar to help with the soaking process.
  4. I recommend soaking for at least 4 hours, but 8-24 hours is even better.  Read this article on soaking beans & grains.  (You can start the beans soaking in the morning and cook overnight, or do the opposite — soak overnight and cook the beans throughout the day.)  Once beans have soaked, strain the beans and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Put beans back into crockpot and fill with cool water about 1 inch from the top of the crockpot.  Turn the crockpot on low and allow it to cook.  Again, soak through the day and cook overnight for a full pot of cooked beans in the morning.  Or, soak your beans overnight and cook the beans throughout the day while you’re at work or home.
  6. Once beans are cooked, strain the beans over the sink and rinse thoroughly.
  7. Divvy up beans into storage bags, 2 cups per sandwich size bag.  {I like to measure out the beans into 2 cups so that they approximate the size of a can of beans.  It makes it easy to convert a recipe that calls for “1 can of beans”.}  Clearly mark on your bag with a Sharpie marker the type of bean and the date.
  8. When it comes time to cook dinner containing beans, you have a cheaper and healthier (compared to cans) version waiting for you in the freezer.  Just thaw and add to your dish {or if you’re like me, you forget to thaw first sometimes and that’s okay!}.

Some of our favorite bean recipes:

  • Beans & Rice {This recipe is a staple in our home.  We usually have it about once a month, sometimes with chicken, other times with sausage or beef, and often with no meat at all.}
  • Hummus {My family thrives off hummus but come Sunday lunch, we were all out.  I had been given a 48 oz can of garbanzo beans, so I set out to make my own.  I froze the remaining beans.  We absolutely loved this recipe and we all exclaimed it to be one of the better hummus recipes we’ve had!  Furthermore, I had all the ingredients on hand and it is a real money saver to make hummus from scratch!}
  • Bean & Ham Soup – Do you have a leftover ham hock from the Holidays? Throw it into a crockpot with a mixed dried bean variety and add water.  Have Bean & Ham Soup for dinner and freeze the rest for a quick supper night later this winter.

Do you have any favorite dishes you prepare using beans? Share the recipe or a link to a recipe in the comments.  We’re always looking for new ways to use beans in our home.

~~~

January 6-12, 2012

Sunday:  Chicken, Onion, & Bell Pepper Hoagies, Homemade Hummus & Chips

Monday:  Pan-Seared Salmon (recipe coming tomorrow), Baked Apple & Brown Rice Casserole, Steamed Vegetables

Tuesday:  Hamburgers, Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Russian Rice Pilaf

Thursday:  Mexican Night {I’ll be cooking & freezing some pinto beans this week just in time for Mexican Refried Beans.}

Friday:  Refrigerator Round-up

Saturday:  Dinner out as we’ll be out of town for the day.

Dessert: It’s a certain someone’s birthday around here this week, so the birthday girl will be experimenting with her own birthday cake – a Mandarin Orange Almond Torte.

What is on your meal plan this week?

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5 Responses to Beans, Beans…& Our Allergy Home Meal Plan

  1. Cook says:

    The following question was emailed in by a reader:
    “Do you have any suggestions on gluten free dried beans? All that I have found are processed with Rye or Barley.”

    Here is my response:
    That’s a great question. I never thought about gluten in dried beans, but I’m sure the cross-contamination on shared equipment is high. I did a google search and it seems as though a lot of people have problem either with the gluten that may be present in dried beans or a heightened sensitivity to the bean (legumes, in general) itself.

    Here is what I found:

    http://www.nuts.com/cookingbaking/beans/ (I read that they are gf but I couldn’t find it on the company website. I suggest calling them to find out for sure if they are indeed gf. They seem like a good price though.)

    Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com) (Again, contact the company for guaranteed gf, but Celiac forums are reporting good results from this bean.)

    And, it goes without saying to thoroughly comb through the beans and wash them well. I hope that helps a little. I’ll add your question to the post because I’m sure there are others with the same problem.

    Thanks for being a part of The Willing Cook!
    Michelle

  2. Pingback: Soaking Beans & Our Allergy Home Meal Plan | The Willing Cook

  3. Freda says:

    Thanks for this great post!
    I have access to Azure Standard in my area and have enjoyed good results with the dried beans I purchase from them. 🙂 I follow the same steps you’ve mentioned to sort through them carefully and wash them well just in case there’s a bit of cross-contamination. Here’s the website in case it helps: http://www.azurestandard.com
    Have a wonderful, allergy-free day! 🙂
    Freda

    • Cook says:

      I love Azure Standard…sort of! Their products and prices are top notch. Unfortunately, they have not set up delivery to my area yet and shipping is too expensive. I’m hoping they’ll set up a co-op here soon!

  4. Pingback: Spotlight Recipe for Beef Stew & Our Allergy Meal Plan | The Willing Cook

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