Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN

Eat Better for Less: Beans for Last-Minute Cooks

White Beans in Tomato SauceCanned beans, such as kidney, garbanzo, or cannellini, can be the basis for countless inexpensive meals. Of course, cooking dried beans from scratch is even cheaper and gives you better texture, flavor, and less sodium. But if you’re a last-minute cook like me, even the quick-soak method takes more time than I often have to get dinner on the table. (How to cook beans, using the quick-soak method: Rinse beans; transfer to 4-quart Dutch oven and add the 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.)


Here’s how I’ve solved the problem. Whenever I cook dried beans, I always make more than I need for my recipe. (Cooking two pounds of dried beans is just as easy as cooking one!) Once cooked, they freeze beautifully. Just pop them into a resealable freezer bag or container (drain them first) and label with the variety and the date. Next time you need cooked dried beans in a hurry, you’re covered. They go right from the freezer into the pot and you’re off to the races. Although cooked beans only keep a few days in the fridge before going off, they’ll keep for several months in the freezer.


Substituting dried beans in a recipe that calls for canned (or vice versa)? Here’s what you need to know:

  • 1 pound (or 2 cups) of dried beans makes approximately 6 cups of cooked beans.
  • 1 15-ounce can = 1 1/2 cups beans


We’re full of beans! Try these recipes:


White Beans in Tomato Sauce (pictured above)


Mixed Bean Soup (a hearty soup that you can mix and match with garbanzo, lima, navy, and pinto beans)


Mexican Pinto Beans (watch this how-to video on how to cook this spicy bean dish)


Black Beans Brazilian-Style (sweet potato, diced tomatoes, and a bit of orange peel give this hearty stew color and zesty flavor)




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