Beans, beautiful beans!

Beans, beautiful beans! The best, easiest, and fastest way to Cook for Good is to cook a pot of dried beans every week. Dried beans are one of the great food bargains, costing about one third the price of canned beans. Home-cooked organic beans cost much less than canned, conventionally grown beans.

For years, I only cooked with canned beans, so I know the sinking feeling you get when you open a can of beans and find out that it’s mostly liquid. Once I learned how easy it is to cook dried beans and how much better they tasted, I began keeping canned beans around only for emergencies. One day I started wondering how canned beans compared to home-cooked ones. Turns out there’s a big difference. If you cook your own beans, you’ll get better tasting beans for about a third of the cost of canned beans.

And if you are looking for bargains in organic food, look no further. Home-cooked organic beans cost nearly $1 less a pound than regular canned beans.
One pound of dried black beans makes 34 ounces orĀ  5 1/2 cups of drained and rinsed beans. To make even comparisons, let’s look at what one pound of cooked, drained, and rinsed black beans costs (using prices from April 2009):

  • 55 cents for a pound of home-cooked, regular black beans.
  • 79 cents for home-cooked, organic black beans.
  • $1.71 for canned Bush black beans, a national brand. (A 15-ounce can contained 9 3/8 ouncesĀ  or 1 2/3 cups of drained and rinsed beans.)
  • $2.24 for canned Harris Teeter’s Naturals organic black beans, a store brand. (A 15-ounce can contained 8 1/2 ounces or 1 1/2 cups of drained and rinsed beans.)

But wait, there’s more!

  • Home-cooked beans produce a delicious broth. The broth from canned beans tastes metallic so most people just rinse it down the drain.
  • You control the amount of salt used, too.
  • Consider too the energy savings from not making the cans and from not shipping the cans, labels, and water. The can and label weighed 2.2 ounces and the water weighed 5.6 ounces for a 15-ounce can of beans. This means that 45% of the weight of a can of beans is packaging and water.
  • If you are having beans instead of meat, you have really revved up your energy savings. According to, eating a pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started. What are your most delicious bean recipes? Please share a favorite in the comments section below. Hope you’ll come back tomorrow for another recipe and some tips on cooking with the seasons.

Today’s recipe Cuban Black Beans

Linda Watson

Linda Watson started the Cook for Good project after becoming obsessed with the national Food Stamp Challenge: living on a dollar a meal per person for a week. Her three-week experiment became a lifestyle, the website, the book Wildly Affordable Organic, and now the Wildly Good Cook videos and teachers' training program. She teaches cooking classes and gives talks on thrift, sustainability, and food justice across the country. You can get more from Linda on Facebook..

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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