Beans are supposed to be an inexpensive food. And dried beans are supposed to be even cheaper (although I've noticed the prices on them keep going up unless you buy in 5 lb bags lately). The problem with dried beans is that you have to remember to prep them before you use them in your recipe. Which means lately I've been relying on canned more than I should. Canned beans with extra salt and junk in the packing liquid. Yes, we always rinse them off and read labels to try to buy the ones with the least extra stuff but still I'd rather have just plain beans. The solution is as easy as a tool I already use multiple times a week but for some reason kept putting off using in this way: the crockpot.
A while back I picked up several two pound bags of beans that were on clearance at Target. Brought them home, tossed them into the pantry, and mostly forgot about them. Because, well, just having them around is enough to save money. Ok, not really. I've read in several places that you can cook beans in the crockpot without doing a presoak so I decided to give it a try yesterday. I mean, if it didn't work I figured I'd only be out $1.28.
So I sorted and rinsed the beans. Dumped them into the crockpot with 12 cups of water (because I was cooking 2 pounds of beans), put the lid on and set it for high. 6 hours later and the beans were done. They are now in my freezer bagged in 2 cup portions which is roughly the equivalent of a can of beans. The difference here is the cost. Admittedly, this batch is so cheap because I got the beans on clearance. But I typically pay 79 cents for a can of pinto beans. I paid $1.28 for 2 pounds of beans and have the equivalent of 6 cans in my freezer meaning I spent about 21 cents per can this way. Much cheaper. I have one more bag to cook and plan to bag those up in 4 cup portions since we never use just 2 cups at a time. Not sure what I was thinking last night other than following the given directions. YMMV depending on your prices but give it a try.