The Family Homestead Archives #1: What to Do With 25 Pounds of Beans

A couple months ago I closed down my original web site, The Family Homestead. It was a financial decision and the traffic to the site was small. However, since closing it down I've had requests for recipes as well as having many people tell me that they miss the old site. Since I have a copy of the site on my computer I have access to all the recipes and articles. 

I have decided that periodically I will post some of those recipes and articles. I'm going to start by doing it on request. So if you have been looking for something on the old site, please let me know so I can repost it here.  

I will be calling this series, The Family Homestead Archives.. 

Crystal :)


Grocery Budget Helps:
What to Do With 25 Pounds of Beans?
Crystal Miller

I love being frugal and keeping close tabs on my grocery budget and eating beans is one way I keep things in check. I was inspired to write about how to use a bag of beans when a woman on my message board said she purchased 25#’s of pinto beans and was wanting some ideas on how to use them.

Beans are an excellent source of protein. They are not a complete protein however and need to be coupled with brown rice, cornmeal (as in cornbread or tortillas or tortillas chips, etc), cheese, or meat to get the most benefit from them.

I am not a vegetarian as I don’t believe it to be a healthy way to eat, however I do advocate eating smaller amounts of meat if you are trying to live on a tight budget. Meat can be looked at as flavoring instead of the main course. If you are a vegetarian you will find that many of the bean recipes I share adapt nicely to that way of eating.

Many people know that beans are a good quality food, they have some idea what to do with them but when faced with a bulk bag of them (after all buying them in bulk is how you get the best deal) they are perhaps short on ideas as to what to do with them.

Depending on your family size 25#’s of beans may last you a long time or maybe a real long time.. ~smile~. Beans, after they are cooked, can quadruple in size. So keep that in mind. If you have a small family, think small amounts with the beans, conversely it you have a big family, thing bigger amounts.

Before I get into the nitty gritty I want to say a few things about cooking beans. Beans don’t have to be soaked. I know for many people soaking beans is one extra step that is easily forgotten. For years I never soaked beans. I simply measured out what I needed, added water and salt and let them cook. In my constant quest for improving my family’s nutrition I came across a fantastic book, Nourishing Traditions (the author is Sally Fallon). It is a fascinating, information filled book and well worth purchasing if you are serious about improving your family’s health. In reading this book I learned about something called ‘phytic acid’. Phytic acid is naturally found in all grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals in your body. To neutralize phytic acid (it will also make them easier to digest) you need to soak your grains and beans. I now soak my grains and beans as much as possible. Sometimes I forget and don’t do this but this is a new step for me and I am learning to make new habits. Soaking grains and beans also increases their nutritional benefit. If you would like to read more about this (and other nutritional information) then I highly recommend Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

If you have not purchased your beans yet you may be wondering what the best type of bean to purchase is. If your budget is tight, going out and buying several types of beans may not be a choice for you. If I was going to try and work with just one type of bean it would have to be the pinto bean. They are a mild tasting bean that will adapt well to a variety of uses. Plus pinto beans can usually be easy to find in 25# bags. I know locally Costco sells them and so do several grocery stores in my area. Most of my recipes are based on using pinto beans, but other types of beans such as red beans and black beans will work. I would not use navy beans for these recipes. I never use kidney beans (and therefore have not tested them in my recipes) because I just don’t personally like them. They are too large and don’t convert well to some recipes, however if you like them, you can try and see how they work for the following recipes.

Beans work wonderfully as a meat stretcher. You can add cooked beans to cooked hamburger to make it go farther. You can then add this to just about any type of recipe calling for cooked hamburger: tacos, spaghetti, soups, etc.

Here is what you do: the evening before you need the beans, put 2 cups of beans in a pan and cover with lots of water. Leave to soak. The next day dump the water out and cover the beans again with water and add 2t of salt. Cook beans for 2 to 4 hours or until they are soft.

Now cook up 1 pound of hamburger (add onion or any other spices you want). When the hamburger is cooked add 2 to 3 cups cooked beans. You can heat this up and even mash the beans if you want to.

If you are going to use the mixture for tacos then add 3 to 4T taco seasoning and a little water and let this simmer.

If you are using it for spaghetti sauce, prepare your sauce, add the meat/bean mix and season your sauce. Serve over whole wheat pasta.

If using in a soup then make the soup according to your recipe and add the meat/bean mix when the recipe calls for hamburger.

You can also divide this into meal size portions and freeze it. Beans freeze beautifully.

Other Bean Helps

Here are some bean recipes that you can incorporate into your daily diet:

Refried Beans make an easy side dish or a great filling for burritos. Use the leftover refried beans the next night to make Refried Bean Soup.

Refried Beans
Double this recipe if you want to have enough leftover for soup or for freezing.
3 cups dried pintos
12 cups water
1 T salt
4 to 5 T butter

Cook beans in water with salt added until very soft, usually about 3 hours. After beans have cooked well heat a large frying pan with the butter. When butter is melted and pan is heated up, scoop out beans, with minimal liquid into frying pan and begin mashing with a potato masher. Add bean liquid as needed to get the consistency you want. Add more beans and liquid until the batch is finished (this amount can be halved or unused portions frozen). You may add additional salt if desired.


Refried Bean Soup
Here is another recipe that would lend itself well to a few different types of beans, including pinto beans.

1 small onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
olive oil
4 cups refried beans
1 cup salsa or 1 can Rotel (spicy) tomatoes
3 to 4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes

In a small frying pan cook onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil. When the onions are soft transfer them to a soup pot. Add the refried beans and salsa. Now add the water 1 cup at a time mixing the refried beans well. You can add as little or as much water depending on how thick you want your soup. After the water is added and beans are mixed in well add the bouillon cubes and let this simmer for 15 to 20 minutes on low heat. Salt if needed. If you want to add a little meat for flavoring then you can add ¼ to ½ lb of cooked hamburger. Serve this yummy soup with a salad and some homemade muffins. Or you can also serve it with tortilla chips and salsa.

Red Beans and Rice
2 cups dried red beans
8 to 10 cups water
2 t. salt
3T olive oil
2 cups polish sausage or smoked sausage, cut up in small slices and then cut up in quarters
½ medium sweet onion, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
Hot cooked brown rice

In a medium to large stock pot add your beans, 8 cups of water, and salt.  Bring to a boil and turn to low and let it simmer about 2 hours adding more water if the beans seem to need it.  Near the end of the simmering time heat olive oil in a frying pan add the polish sausage, onion and the garlic.  Heat this until the onion is soft and transparent and the sausage has cooked up a bit.  Add all of this to the red beans and let this simmer for about ½ hour. 

To serve this meal, add scoops of hot brown rice to a bowl and cover with the red bean mixture.  If you like a little spice to your meals like we do you can add a splash or two of Tabasco sauce.   That is our favorite way to eat it. 

This meal goes good with a green salad or a spinach salad.

Chili and Chili Bean Soup is another great bean meal. I traditionally make this with small red beans. But I have made chili with pintos and with black beans. 

 Crystal Miller
3 cups dry small red beans (sub any type of bean you would like)
10 cups water
1 T. salt
1 lb. hamburger, cooked and drained (less hamburger works great too)
2 to 4 T. chili powder
1 can Rotel tomatoes

Combine beans, water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 hours checking on water levels periodically. When beans are finished add cooked hamburger and chili powder adjusting seasonings according to taste and Rotel tomatoes. Chili freezes beautifully. It is a great meal to have in the freezer. You can easily double or triple this recipe (make sure you have a big enough pot, as beans do expand during cooking). I do not presoak my beans.

Crystal’s Chili Bean Soup
Heat 2 T. oil in large soup pot.

Chop up and add:
1 onion
1/2 a green pepper, optional

Cook until the onion is soft. 
Then add:
3 cups small red beans
12 cups water
1 Tablespoon salt

Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Stir occasionally. After beans are soft add:
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (this brand of tomatoes is usually found with the other tomatoes at your local grocery store)

Hamburger that has been cooked and drained can be added to this, but is optional.

Italian Pinto Beans  My kids say Italian Pinto Beans reminds them of pizza.. it is a yummy dish!

Italian Pinto Beans
This is a very delicious meal and this recipe makes a lot. If the recipe is to large for your family you can cut the recipe in half or plan on freezing the leftovers for future meals.

4 cups dried pinto beans
Water for soaking
8 cups water for cooking
1 T salt
½ to 1lb. sausage, optional
Olive oil, if not using sausage
1 small or medium onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 T Italian seasonings
1 can diced tomatoes
1 ½ c mozzarella cheese
¼ c parmesan cheese

The evening before making this meal put beans in a large pot and cover them well with water. In the morning drain the water and add the 8 cups of water and salt to the beans and cook until soft. The beans can be set aside now until closer to meal time if you would like or you can make it up and have it all ready to go for dinner.

Cook sausage along with onions, garlic and optional peppers. If you will not be using the Italian sausage then you can cook the onions, garlic and peppers in a little olive oil until soft.

Add these vegetables to the cooked beans. Add the remaining ingredients and heat until the cheese is melted and the flavors are blended. This is delicious and can be served with some homemade bread (French bread would be wonderful) and a salad.


Yummy Pinto Beans 
3 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
1/2 cup sucanat (can use brown sugar)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. molasses
12 oz. lean bacon (I have made this dish without this)
3 cups tomato juice ( I have used my own home canned tomatoes, 1qt. or equivalent amounts of canned stewed tomatoes or whatever I had on hand.)
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/2 large onion, finely chopped

Put beans in large pot and cover with water and salt well ( I have read that you should not salt beans before you cook them because they will not cook completely, they will still be hard. I have never found that to be true and always salt my beans. It gives them so much flavor.). Cook beans until soft. Check often as you may need to add more water. When beans are completely cooked drain them, setting aside a few cups of the bean broth, and add tomatoes, spices, molasses. Slowly cook onion and bacon in frying pan. Drain. Add to beans. Add enough of the reserved bean broth to cover beans by one inch. Let this simmer slowly and watch carefully as beans seem to scorch easily, for about one to two hours to allow flavors to blend. This dish is excellent with cornbread or home made bread and a salad.


Pork Chops and Pintos
6 pork chops
1 ½ t. cumin
¾ t. garlic powder
¼ t. red pepper flakes, a generous ¼ t if you like it spicy
½ t. salt

3 cups cooked pinto beans
1 ½ t. cumin
¾ c. salsa
1/3 c.
bbq sauce, homemade if possible
1 small onion, chopped

In a small bowl mix cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. Sprinkle and rub this over both sides of pork chops. Spray a broiler pan with non-stick spray and place chops on pan. Broil chops about 6 inches or so from heat for about 5 minutes each side

While chops are broiling prepare pintos. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 8 minutes or until onion is soft, do not cover the pan. Stir every now and again. Serve pork chops with pintos on the side. YUM! 

Crystal’s Bean Burgers
2 c cooked pinto beans (beans should be nice and soft)
1 c cooked brown rice
2 eggs
½ c whole wheat flour
Salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste

In a large bowl combine all the above ingredients. Use a potato masher to mix and mash up the beans. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Scoop out bean mixture using a ¼ cup measuring cup and plop out onto the hot oil. Use the back of the measuring cup to flatten and shape the patty. Let it cook until nicely browned on the first side. Flip the burger and use the back of the spatula to flatten out the burger some more and let it cook on the second side.

Remove from hot oil onto a platter to cool. Serve with toasted whole wheat bread, mayo, ketchup, lettuce, cheese, pickles and any other hamburger trimmings you would like!

This recipe lends itself very well to doubling or tripling. You can cook these burgers up ahead of time and flash freeze them (this means to lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them separately). Then store them in a freezer bag for easy use. 

  Sloppy Joes
1 lb hamburger
4 to 5 cups cooked beans, we like to use black beans
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 ½ cups ketchup, fruit sweetened if possible
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 6oz. can tomato paste
¾ cup water
2 to 3T apple cider vinegar, according to taste
3T Sucanat
1t dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger with onions and green pepper. Add cooked beans. In a small bowl mix remaining ingredients. Add to hamburger bean mixture and simmer long enough to get everything hot and blend flavors.

Serve on homemade whole wheat French Bread Rolls.

As you can see beans are very versatile and can give you a large amount of nutritional value at the same time being easy on your grocery budget!


  1. Thanks for keeping up your site! I had transferred all of my posts over to blogger too! Loved getting your updates and family posts and recipes along with beautiful pictures of the homestead!

    1. Thank you Cindi. Sorry this reply is so late. I was making a lot of changes at the end of last year and your comment slipped through my fingers! :D ...

  2. Thanks for adding this back! I for one did miss the old site, but now that I can find the recipes and tips here, HOORAY!

    1. You're welcome :) I've been posting more and more of the old recipes and articles. I'll eventually need to spend some time organizing them. In the meantime, you can click on the tag at the bottom of this post that says The Family Homestead Archives and see what I have posted.

  3. Yay! I couldn’t find your old website, so I’m so glad you posted this! I was craving your Italian Pintos.
    Your family website was a very big part of my journey to healthier/homemade, large-family cooking, even before I had children. Thank you!

    1. Hi Amber :) I'm glad you found it here! I'm posting a lot of my old recipes here now. At the end of the post you'll see a tag that says The Family Homestead Archives. If you click on that you'll see all the posts I've published here. If you have any requests, let me know :). I know a lot of people say they miss the old site. I do too, it's wasn't an easy decision to close it down.


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