Supermarket Savvy: Dried vs Canned Beans
I spend weeks before the holidays in a magical flurry of white flour, cinnamon, and powdered sugar, so after the last cookie is eaten, I need savory foods to restore the balance. For inspiration, I interviewed pastry chef Amanda Milazzo at Cakery Dauphine to see what she prepares at home to offset all those sweets. Beans and legumes, she says, are her go-to foods.
Amanda and her vegetarian husband work completely different hours, and bean recipes are the perfect solution for their meals. Both nutritious and inexpensive, beans provide the protein in many dishes that are still good when reheated.
Although Amanda only uses dried beans, she mentioned that this is not always the cheapest option. I’d always assumed that the convenience of canned beans would make them the most expensive, but I checked at my grocery store, and some of the canned beans were, in fact, cheaper than the dry. The most extreme example was one brand of canned bean that was 40 cents a pound cheaper than its dry equivalent, due to a store sale.
So, always compare the unit price between canned beans, pre-bagged dry beans, and bulk dry beans that you scoop yourself. Depending on store sales, discounts offered with store loyalty cards, and, of course, coupons, your cheapest beans might not be the ones you expect.
Why, then, does Amanda choose the pricier dried beans? Well, as is typical of professional chefs, she likes to have complete control over her food preparation, but she also explained that the sodium content of canned beans is much higher; dried beans have only 1 percent sodium, while the canned are often about 19 percent: a huge difference.
Now for some bean recipes:
A classic New Year’s Day dish that you can make with either canned or dried black-eyed peas is Hoppin’ John. This recipe for Hoppin’ John with Grits Polenta is fiber rich, with brown rice, carrots, corn, hominy grits and sweet pepper, in addition to those black-eyed peas.
Black Bean Cakes with Salsa make a satisfying meatless meal that packs heat when you add spicy salsa and jalapeño chiles. Black Beans and Rice helps you get a complete protein, and is tasty with cheese and Mexican stewed tomatoes. Or maybe you’re more of a Louisiana Red Beans and Rice lover!
How about a Bean and Veggie Wrap with cheese for lunch?
Classic Boston Baked Beans ‘n’ Bacon are a warm and hearty supper side dish.