Jul 18, 2009

This DIY moment brought to you by my crockpot

I *heart* my crockpot!

I've said in the past how helpful it is to use more vegetarian-style meals into our menu - vegetarian meals are great for your health as well as your pocketbook! I've been using more black bean-based recipes lately, the fiber in them is very good for hubby and his diabetes...and black beans seem to be the only kind he likes.

They were already very cheap by the can, but after reading this post by Grocery Cart Challenge I was prodded into action to go from canned to dried! I didn't want to do the stovetop method, my kitchen is microscopic and having something in a big hulky pot all day becomes a big nuisance :) So I did some hunting, and my Crockpot Maven at A Year of Crockpotting saved the day again! She posted here about doing dried beans in the crockpot!

I had to adjust a little because my crock tends to run on the hot side, but here's how easy it was:
- Pour 2lb bag of dried beans into a colander
- rinse, and pick out any that were broken, lost/losing their skins, or shriveled
- dump into 6-qt crockpot
- add water until it was about an inch from the top
- cook on low for about 8 hours, or until beans are tender

Once they were done, I rinsed them in cool water, then once they had drained I bagged them into 1.5 cup portions (Gayle at Grocery Cart Challenge points out that 1.5 cups is about the equivalent of a can of beans) for the freezer. It made SEVEN AND A HALF CANS WORTH! I could not believe the cost savings, and now I don't have to contend with all of the gooey stuff or the preservatives in the cans. Here's the breakdown:

7.5 cans of black beans from Price Rite ($0.79/ea) = $5.93

2-lb bag of dried black beans - $1.89

Cost savings: $4.04

Some of my favorite uses for black beans (substitute them for any other bean in your fave recipe too!):
Mixed with ground beef to stretch it even further! Leave them whole for Cowboy Stew, or mash them to use in burgers, meatloaf, or other ground beef recipe where you don't want to change the texture!

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