Monday, February 9, 2009

adventures with pinto beans

Since I went “vegan” (in quotations because I’ve “cheated” a couple times on the weekends) my lunch of choice for work has been to eat a can of beans with some salsa. This costs between $0.54 and $0.62 depending on the type of beans, plus the cost of the salsa. Canned beans are so easy and convenient, and a lunch at merely half a dollar is about half the price of my lunch each day prior to going vegan. That said, the frugal side of me still wanted to cut this cost down more, knowing that I could do so by using dried beans rather than canned. I’d used dried beans before at times for soups, but still had a tendency to grab the easy canned variety when assembling dips, snacks or quick dinners. This Sunday I decided to tackle (with helpful hints from my boss Kristal) making a pot of beans that would serve as my lunch for the entire week. I bought a 4 lb bag of pinto beans (for $3.18) and put about ¾ (so I’m assuming around 3 lbs) of it into my slow cooker (no pre-soaking or boiling, I’d always thought this was a requirement, but Kristal assured me that she does it without this step… fine by me, the less steps the better!). Then I covered the beans with water, added a chopped yellow onion, 4 large minced cloves of garlic, a can of generic Rotel, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cumin. I set the pot on high for the first 5 hours and then cooked it on low until the beans were tender. We arrived home from church on Sunday to our home full of the aromas of Mexican cooking (to my delight, but to Jeremy’s dismay as all his clean laundry that was laying out was absorbing these strong odors). The beans turned out well in taste, color and texture, but I'll probably play with my recipe a little bit until I find exactly what works best for me. The only "fumble" that I made was I had no idea just how many beans I was cooking and how much they would expand. I started off with about 1/3 of my slow cooker full, but ended up with my entire 6- quart slow cooker filled to the brim with beans. This was obviously more than I could eat between lunch and dinner for the entire week so I threw some into a freezer bag to have on hand for chilis, or backup lunches and dinners. This weekend I'm hoping to branch out further with a pot a kidney beans or black beans and tweak the spices a bit. I'm thrilled to enjoy many more meals that are this inexpensive and low maintenance!

If anyone has any great bean recipes or flavor combinations please share!

What's your favorite way to eat and/ or cook with beans?


1 comment:

kim.g... said...

how fun, shannon!!! yay for a friend who shares my love for the bean variety!! ;) ..speaking of, i still need to send you the bean dip recipe! (so sorry that i haven't done that yet!) love you lots and look forward to catching up!! <3