“Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel, beans beans for every meal!” This old rhyme is something everyone has heard in one form or another. Beans are a popular dish throughout the world for many different reasons. When you are looking for a frugal meal, beans top the list. However, they tend to get old after a while. The nutritional and economic benefits of eating beans are endless. Fortunately, the ways to prepare beans are endless as well.
Beans are one of the most nutritionally well rounded foods available to us. They are classed as both a vegetable and a protein and are both high in complex carbohydrates and low in calories. Beans are high in fiber and vitamins. They are low in fat and cholesterol. It is obvious why beans should be a part of any person’s diet.
The cost of beans is small. A bag of dried beans costs less than a dollar in some places and not much more in most places. Canned beans are also fairly cheap. When you are trying to make ends meet in these tough financial times, cutting back on your grocery bill is an easy way to stretch your budget. Eating beans makes sense financially. Replacing high cost meats with low cost beans is just sound financial reasoning.
Beans have been a basic food used by most cultures on earth for thousands of years. Most ethnic cuisines use beans much more often than American cuisine. The truth is, American’s tend to overlook this wonder food and eat more meat than most other cultures. Beans are versatile and easily combined into any recipe. Most people seem to be scared of cooking dry beans, but even canned beans are cheap and healthy.
Beans can be used in almost any recipe. They enhance the flavors of meats, take on the flavors of any seasoning used and can be used to “beef” up the texture of meatless dishes. They can also be used in place of meat for truly cost effective meals. Beans can be added to soups and stews to make them a heartier meal and can be used, pureed, as a thickening agent.
My family does it’s best to eat at least two meals a week completely meatless. This keeps our food budget lower and our menu healthier. Some of the dishes that I serve on a regular basis are: black beans and rice, bean and vegetable soup, pasta with beans and veggies added, Mexican casserole using beans in place of ground beef, bean soup with corn bread, baked beans, bean burritos and even a bean salad! I am always looking for new and different recipes to try out. I generally keep both dried and canned beans on hand and also cooked beans in my freezer.
Dry beans include such varieties as Pinto, Navy, Kidney (Dark and Light Red) and Black beans. Green beans, pole beans and soy beans are different. You can also find any of these varieties precooked and canned for even simpler preparation. Cooking dried beans is viewed by many people to be time consuming and complicated. But, it does not have to be. There are directions on each bag of beans for a quick soak method of cooking that is fast and easy. There are thousands of recipes in both cookbooks and online to give you a starting place for adding beans to your diet. If you are looking for a healthy and inexpensive way to feed your family, then beans are the way to go.