Stretching Food Resources | Nutritional Value of Beans | How to Cook Beans | Bean Recipes

For over 35 years beans have been a staple in my home. I have found them to be a wonderful frugal resource to stretch the grocery budget and in years past feed my large family good quality, nutritious meals at the same time.

Beans are a very high quality, nutritious, budget friendly food for your family. They are a good source of soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower cholesterol. Beans in general, are good sources of folate, potassium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc. They are also low in fat.

Beans are not a complete protein by themselves and need to be coupled with brown rice, whole wheat, cornmeal (as in cornbread or tortillas or tortillas chips, etc), cheese, or meat to get the most benefit from them.

One of the main drawbacks that people complain about is that beans cause gas. If you are not use to beans in your diet, your body has more trouble digesting them. So the good news is that the more you eat beans, the easier it will be for your body to digest them and you will find that gas problems will greatly diminish. If you don’t eat a lot of beans at all then I would suggest that you slowly start adding them to your regular menus. Begin by serving them once a week and then more often as time goes on. Basically you need to have them as part of your regular diet in order to build up natural good intestinal flora that enables you to digest them.

If you are new to cooking beans or have had less than satisfactory results in cooking beans then here are a few tips to help.

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. I never had any problems cooking beans this way and in fact I still do it this way more often than not due to my forgetfulness in soaking beans.

I am aware of the nutritional benefits of soaking beans, but typically I still don't take the time to do that.

Typically when I cook beans I simply put my beans in a large pot and cover with the appropriate amount of water, add salt and cook. If you are planning on cooking your beans in a crockpot then you must soak them all night. Beans will take forever to cook in a crockpot unless they are soaked.

The other thing that I always do is add salt to my beans right at the beginning. I have read in many places that salt will prevent your beans from cooking. This is not true and in over 35 years I have never experienced this.

When I salt the beans ahead of time I find that the beans are very flavorful and the bean broth is delicious.

Another very important bit of info to remember when cooking is beans is NEVER add tomato products (sauce, paste, diced, stewed, etc.) until AFTER the beans have finished cooking. The acid in the tomatoes will cause your beans not cook.

Now for some very basic bean cooking directions. If you follow these directions you will have a pot of soft and flavorful beans!

Basic Bean Cooking Directions
1 cup dry beans, any variety
4 cups water
1 t. salt

Put all ingredients into a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat down to somewhere between medium and low. You want the boil to continue, just not to fast.

Simmer beans for about 2 to 3 hours or until soft and completely cooked.

Don’t let the beans run out of water so check them now and again and add more water if needed.

If want to soak your beans then you can add the same amount of water and let them soak overnight. In the morning just add the salt and cook.

This recipe may be multiplied many times depending on how many cups of beans you need. Generally speaking 1 cup of dried beans will equal about 2+ cups of cooked beans.

You can freeze cooked beans in 2 cup portions to use in any recipe that calls for a can of beans or have them on hand to use in my recipes which call for cooked beans. This is very handy to have on hand and much more inexpensive than buying canned beans (which really don’t taste that good in my opinion).


Now for a couple delicious bean recipes!

Both of these recipes have meat in them. However the meat is completely optional. You can reduce the amount or omit it altogether.

Taco Soup
Crystal Miller

3 c pinto beans
12 c water
1 T salt
1 lb (or less) hamburger
½ onion, chopped
2 c (or 1 can) frozen corn
1 can olives, drained and sliced
1 can (14 oz)diced tomatoes or you can use spicy type tomatoes, such as Rotel brand.
2 T taco seasonings

In a large soup pot (6 to 8 qt) put 3 cups dry beans, 12 cups water and 1 T. salt. Cook for about 2 ½ hours or until soft.

When beans have finished, cook hamburger and onion until meat is not longer pink and onion is soft. Add this to the cooked beans. Add remaining ingredients to cooked beans. Stir and simmer for a little bit to blend flavors.

Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips and salad

Sloppy Joes
Crystal Miller
Serves 8 to 10

1 lb hamburger
4 to 5 c cooked beans, we like to use black beans
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 ½ c ketchup, fruit sweetened if possible
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 6oz. can tomato paste
¾ c water
2 to 3T apple cider vinegar, according to taste
3T sugar
1 t 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 hamburger buns or whole grain dinner rolls.


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