Copyright 2017, Lori Fontanes
From suburban lawn to backyard homestead…with ducks. A journal by Lori Fontanes
Episode One: Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. Images from Robert Frost’s cabin in those woods we think we know.
Copyright 2016, Lori Fontanes
Photo copyright 2016, Lori Fontanes
Rather than offer a recipe today, instead I’d like to talk about how incredibly easy it is to add delicious bean experiences to your dining life. Yeah, you can just go buy a fast-food burrito or open up a can of processed pulses but there are better & cheaper ways to get lots of leguminous yummy.
Let’s start with the dried vs. canned shopping math:
One 15.5 ounce can of pre-cooked chickpeas = .99, about 28 cents per serving, 3.5 servings per can
One 16-ounce bag of dried chickpeas = $1.99, about 20 cents per serving, 10 servings per bag
The difference per recipe is small in pennies but big in percentages– 40% more for pre-cooked! If purchasing higher-priced organic options, the savings are even greater. For example, one can of organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas with a college degree?!) cost 66 cents per serving compared to 28 cents per serving for the organic dried version. Convenience costs more than twice the price!
And, yes, it does take longer to cook the beans but there’s one very big difference: Taste. My fellow Americans, if you’ve never made a recipe from dried beans, you will be amazed at the scrumptiousness differential. Frankly, it’s hard for me to even use canned beans anymore, let alone beans in canned soup–no thank you!
Okay, so we’ve talked taste and we’ve talked price, but what about the really tricky part, time? Well, it boils down to planning. We’ve all been trained by years of advertising to expect sustenance-on-demand, which does have its drawbacks. Unlike the way people used to eat in the years before industrial food, modern cultures have lost the ability to organize their lives around this essential part of living. I mean, no food, no life, right?*** So figuring out what to eat, how to get it and what to do with it once you’ve got it are really central questions. The key here is “weekly”, though, not “daily” let alone “hourly” organization. As I’ve heard nutritionists say many times: meal planning, meal planning, meal planning.
Don’t run! It doesn’t have to be complicated!
In fact, beans are the perfect place to start if you’re trying to get ahead in the “what’s for dinner” rat race. It’s a multi-day strategy that, BTW, also works with rice-based or pasta-based dishes, too. Here’s a sample plan:
DAY ONE– SATURDAY SOAK
Saturday night, take a bag of beans (or less if you’re cooking for one or two). Pick through the beans, rinse, pour into large bowl and cover with water per package instructions.
DAY TWO–SUNDAY FUNDAY
Sunday morning, drain the beans, rinse and prepare the basic bean recipe found on the package, most of it is just simmering. Sunday afternoon, transform the cooked beans into a satisfying supper.
DAY THREE–MONDAY MAKEOVER
You’ll probably still have enough basic beans to make at least one more meal. You can do a salad or burrito or mix with that rice you made for lunch. Or reheat Sunday’s main course.
DAY FOUR–OKAY-WE’RE-GETTING-SICK-OF-BEANS DAY
You may still have some left. Hide them in a soup or stew.
And that’s it. Three days of tasty for the price of one take-out. Plus, you can do different kinds of beans to keep it interesting. Kidney, black, pinto, navy, all those delicious heirloom types. Oh, and guess what? If you’re cooking lentils, you don’t even need to soak–skip right ahead to your recipe.
Bean appetit, peeps!
*Yes, if you can’t get that Meghan Trainor song out of your head today it’s all my fault!
**Do not start me on that Soylent stuff! IMHO, food is more than just a glass of nutrients. *sigh*
Example one and two, dried and canned beans Goya from Freshdirect.com on 2/15/16
Example three, canned beans Westbrae and dried beans Arrowhead Mills from Freshdirect.com on 2/15/16
Copyright 2016, Lori Fontanes