New Recipe Monday — Mom cheats

This isn’t a “new recipe” per se, but really just a mom cheat to make our budget stretch a little further.
I use beans a lot in our dishes at home, they stretch a dish and add some much needed protein to our diet too. I used to buy canned beans to use in recipes like soups, salads, casseroles and such. I hated throwing those cans away (there isn’t recycling here and you can only save so many tin cans for “homeschool” projects) and I really dislike the “juice” those beans come in. I’d always find myself rinsing them (making them healthier) before using them. Several months ago I thought I’d experiment a bit with dry beans, cooking them and then freezing them for later use. It worked great and the cost savings is wonderful!
I usually buy dry beans in 2lb bags (I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy the dry beans in the actual Hispanic section of the store…I can get bigger bags at a cheaper cost, often with the same company just Spanish on the bag rather than English). A 2lb bag usually costs around $3.00 (a 15oz can of beans usually costs around $1.00 here). I will dump two bags (4lbs total) in my crockpot and cover the beans with water, a little cumin, garlic powder and onion powder and turn it on high. Keep an eye on it though, you’re going to have to add more water…you want to keep them covered throughout the process. You wouldn’t have to add the spices, but I like the flavor in the beans especially if I decide to use them in a salad. I usually cook the beans all day long, about 8-10 hours, making sure to keep them covered in water.
There are two options here, you can cook your beans until they’re completely done (softer texture), which I usually do because I use them without cooking them again pretty frequently. The other option is to cook them just under-done, if you’re going to cook them before you eat them. I prefer to cool the beans (I just remove the whole crock and put it in the fridge for the next day), you don’t have to but it does make them easier to work with. Once they’re cool, I will rinse them in a colander and bag them in freezer safe bags with 4 cups of beans to a bag (the equivalent to 2 cans). I then freeze these bags and thaw before using. It works great and no one can tell the difference.
From the original 2 bags of dry beans I get around 8 bags of cooked beans, which means about 16 cans of beans total. So essentially for $6.00 I get $16.00 worth of canned beans, without the preservatives and minimize the waste without the cans, and I can often rinse and re-use the bags for my next batch.
So far I’ve used this process with kidney beans (no spices added), black beans and pinto beans and it’s worked beautifully.

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