in the kitchen

Why I Cook with Dried Beans

Why I cook with dried beans

I usually cook with dried beans once a week for dinner and there’s always some in our refrigerator for breakfast burritos, lunches or after school snacking. Why I cook with dried beans is easy: they cost much less than canned beans, they’re better for my family to eat, and I control how they taste and how much sodium is in them.

While I try really hard not to buy canned beans, you know what? Sometimes, I find myself in a pickle and I have to go the store and buy beans in a can. It absolutely kills me because paying around $1.00 for beans that are in a can lined with bad plastic is not what I want to be feeding my family. To keep this impulse buying to a minimum, I soak the beans over night and when I wake up in the morning, they’re ready to be cooked in my slow-cooker or on the stove top.

Go Gingham dry beans vs canned

Why I cook with dried beans?

1. Cost

1 pound of dry beans, after they’ve been soaked and cooked, yields about 5 1/2 cans of beans. The cost of 1 pound of dry beans = $0.86. To purchase that same of amount of beans in cans costs about $5.50. By purchasing and cooking dry beans instead of canned beans, I’ve saved my family $4.64 in one grocery shopping trip.

Because we eat a lot of beans every week, by eating dry beans instead of canned, I figure this saves my family over $500.00 a year, just on beans. Take that, bean counters! Scoop them from the bulk bins for an even lower cost per pound.

2. Health

Canned beans usually come in tin cans which are lined with bisphenol-A or BPA (the bad plastic that lines most cans). Canned beans also have an assortment of other ingredients including:

  • beans
  • water
  • sugar
  • dextrose
  • salt/sodium
  • garlic powder
  • calcium chloride
  • calcium disodium
  • edta (to protect color)

Not every can or manufacturer uses all of these ingredients but it’s worth looking at the ingredients of the brand you buy to see what’s inside. I also check the sodium levels as well.

3. Taste

Dried beans cooked in water do not have much flavoring. You have to add onions, garlic, spices, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to make them really tasty. The best part of cooking with dried beans (aside from saving all sorts of money!) is making them taste how you’d like them to.

Keeping a stash of cooked beans on hand is a big money saver on our food budget but it also makes for a quick dinner once a week and plenty of breakfast burritos, lunches or after school snacking. Not only do they cost much less than canned beans, they’re better for my family to eat, and taste better.  They fill up hungry tummies in a hurry! Just remember to soak them the night before – reminding myself that, too!

Do you cook with dry beans or do use canned? What’s your favorite recipe that uses beans?

Go Gingham related links:

Spicy, homemade hummus that you make from dried beans
Very easy and tasty white bean dip
Corn and black bean salad – made with dried beans
How our freezer gets used – I keep beans in our freezer!
Grocery shopping soon? Plastic grocery bag alternatives

16 thoughts on “Why I Cook with Dried Beans

    1. Thanks for the link, Michelle! It takes a first time to soak and cook beans and then you think – why haven’t I done this before? Enjoy those beans! Yes, cheers to saving money and to your good health! Happy 2013! 🙂


    1. Hi Cathy,
      I usually just soak the beans and cook them in the slow-cooker with a diced onion and maybe minced garlic. If I’m making pinto beans, I’ll add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and cumin. Many times, I just cook them plain and then use them in recipes after – hummus, soup, dips, etc. Baked beans are another tasty one.
      What’s your favorite?
      Thanks, Cathy!


  1. The other possible health benefit to cooking your beans from dried was discovered through a study performed in 1980. Cooking your own beans allows you the opportunity to soak the beans in a way that inactivates phytic acid (the compound that blocks mineral absorption in the body, such as magnesium, zinc and iron). I don’t recall the name of the institute that ran this study, but it’s been referenced by several people who are well-known in the medical/nutrition community. I wrote a post about this on my site in October.

    Basically, if you soak your beans at about 140 degrees F, for 18-24 hours, then drain, then cook, you’ll reduce the phytic acid level substantially. For many folks, this isn’t an issue, but for some individuals with persistent low mineral absorption rates, this is important.

    One of the doctors using this information says that you can simply place your washed beans in a large kettle, fill with half boiling water, half room temp water. (This gives you roughly 140 degrees F.) Put the lid on, and set in your warmest spot in the kitchen. Allow to sit overnight. Next day, drain, rinse and cook.

    I also understand some of the older crock pots will also heat to about 140 degrees, allowing for a simpler soaking of the beans.

    Anyways, a long-winded way for me to say, I, too, prefer to buy beans dried and cook myself than the canned ones.


    1. Lili,
      Thank you for that excellent information! I like your long-winded way. 😉
      I read that by soaking the beans the beans, draining them, and then cooking them in fresh water was a way to cut down on the end result of beans (beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot!) but I never could tell a difference so I just soak and cook in the same water. It also drove me crazy to pour out the water that our beans had just sat in – so wasteful.
      Thanks, Lili.


  2. I cook with dried beans for the same reasons that you do–to save $, and to cut down on all the other chemical unknowns & sodium that the canned versions carry. One more thing–it sure lessens the weight of my grocery bags & saves space in my pantry.

    My 2 current favorite bean recipes:
    White Chicken Chili (originally from a Campbells Soup recipe, but I use my own homemade onion soup mix and homemade cream of mushroom soup, again for $ and chemical “savings”) and Stephanie O’Dea’s Potluck Beans. I can’t avoid the canned Pork ‘n Beans, but the rest of the beans are from my freezer stash:

    btw, Stephanie gives great directions for slow cooking beans, portioning them out for canned equivalent (1 2/3 c.) and more!


    1. Thanks for these links, Teri! I always appreciate a new site for recipe inspiration especially when it comes to beans. Love the sounds of your homemade cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix. It’s amazing how simply these are to make and how much you save in unwanted ingredients. Thanks, Teri, for leaving a comment.


  3. I too have been cooking with dried beans for some time. I do weekly meal planning which is a must as a working mom. My husband purchased me an electric pressure cooker last year. I love the time saving factor using this. I will soak the beans over night. Beans will cook in 30 minutes. There is some pre and post time used by the pressure cooker. One can easily have fresh cooked beans in 45 minutes. I too will cook extra as suggested with a previous comment. Amazing how creative you can get with the beans. It is nice to try and go meatless using the beans. This is a better option for our health as well as the pocket book. : )


    1. Sheri,
      YES! the pressure cooker is a dream appliance for quick cooking of beans. I need to buy a new one – found one at an estate sale that later didn’t work out so well. Picture a brown rice geyser in our kitchen! Luckily, no one got hurt but I’m still finding brown rice kernels in the kitchen. The old one needed a new rubber gasket, which I replaced, but I’m not sure it ever fit properly.
      Thanks for the reminder and good tip on cooking beans quickly!


    1. Hi Kristen,
      The cost savings are huge, aren’t they? But, I hear ya’ on the Bush’s Beans – when I’m in a pitch for time and we’re packing to go camping, I grab their vegetarian baked beans and love the convenience of opening a can when we arrive at our campsite and everyone is starving.
      Once you’re in the habit of soaking and cooking beans at home, it’s really easy to do. I use my slow-cooker to cook them and sometimes do it overnight. The smell in the kitchen in the morning is wonderful!
      Thanks, Kristen! Loved the pictures of your new dog. 🙂


  4. I love the bean math for my food budget and prefer sprouting beans before cooking so the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. This increases the nutrition and makes them easier to digest, PLUS, they also cook much quicker. “Sprouting inactivates aflotoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains.” Nourishing Traditions – by Sally Fallon, pg 112.

    A “new” method for preparation I learned recently is “brining” as shown in this video by American’s Test Kitchen and Bridget Lancaster:

    After soaking or sprouting I “cook” beans in a Thermos (a heaping 1/2-cup dry is equal to one 15-oz. can cooked) “Cooking” in a Thermos is a great way to keep the heat out of the kitchen in the warmer months and save money on energy all year long. When I “cook” large amounts of beans for the freezer, I’ll use my Thermal Cooker, which is another great way to cook using only about 80% of the energy you normally would.


    1. Karen! Yes, beans are so good for you (and everyone!) and they are such a good price. They really save our family because they fill up teenager’s bellies big time.
      Thanks for the links, too. Great information!


  5. I love beans, but I soaked navy beans recently, and by the time I got to using them, they’d sprouted. And they never got as soft as when I did the ‘quick’ soak on the recipe the time before. Seems overnight soaking isn’t a big hit for me (in this limited test!)


    1. Sarah,
      Go with what works for you! Good luck with the beans. We’re having them for dinner tonight and then my kids will eat them for breakfast, too.
      Enjoy and good job cooking beans….


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