Beans are an excellent way to provide hearty meals on a low budget, and they’re even cheaper (and healthier) when you use dry beans instead of canned, but who has time to cook beans every time you want to use a cup or two in a recipe?
Fortunately, cooked beans freeze very well so you can cook one big batch and freeze it in smaller portions for easy use in recipes. Since a one-pound bag of dry beans makes about six portions of cooked beans, each portion only costs about $.20 — or less if you find beans on sale or buy in bulk. Plus, the amount of sodium in dry beans is much less than the sodium levels of canned beans, so dry beans are better for your blood pressure.
Never cooked beans before? It’s simple! Start by soaking your beans in a bowl of water overnight. Just cover the beans with a few inches of water and let them sit.
The next morning, drain the beans, then pour them into a large pot and cover with water again. Boil the beans for an hour or two (more if you live at high altitudes) until they are firm but not crunchy. If you over-boil them, they’ll be mushy in your recipes later on so try to get them just barely done…like al dente pasta.
Drain the beans and let them cool, then package them in sandwich-size ziploc bags. Lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze them flat if you have room in your freezer. Of course, they’ll freeze if you just throw the bags in the freezer without the cookie sheet, but you’ll end up with oddly shaped lumps that may be more difficult to store than bags frozen flat.
When you’re ready to use them in a recipe, just pull them straight out of the freezer (or let thaw first) and toss them in just as you would canned beans.