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Jan 14, 2013 12:30 PM

The economics of beans or "Why the heck would you bother?"

I’m trying to get more legumes into my diet and am an inveterate cheapskate.

Assuming that quality is equivalent, has anyone “done the math”: Is making beans from dried a significantly better bargain than buying canned?

For example, assuming my labor is free, is it cheaper to cook a pound or two of black beans, freezing the extras, than it is to buy an equivalent number of cans?

The next level would, of course, be a discussion of quality. Home cooking would allow me to be certain of what’s going into, or not going into, the pot.

Any experiences, thoughts, or snorts of derision over my issue will be appreciated.

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  1. Haven't compared the cost. Homemade from dried taste much better.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Saw this after I posted... looks like the 50% number is a good guess!

      2. It is definitely cheaper--here is one cost breakdown:

        I like to have dried beans on hand at all times, but leave myself the freedom to pick up a can (or my favorite, frozen bags of chickpeas) when I don't have the time of inclination to plan ahead.

        I do not see any appreciable difference in taste, only texture. For example for hummus I preferred canned.

        1. I think it depends. I live in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, so canned beans are plentiful on the grocery store shelves and are often on sale. Regular price on dry beans is around $1.59 for a one-pound bag, and the dry ones don't go on sale as frequently - if they do, they might be marked down to $1 per pound. A pound of dry beans yields maybe 6 cups of cooked beans (which is the equivalent of 4 cans).

          Canned beans are about $.99 a can regular price, but they are ALWAYS on sale somewhere - 3 for $2 is a typical sale price, but often my stores will have them as a loss leader so you can get 3-4 cans for $1. Anyway, if I get them 3 for $2, dry is a better deal, obviously - 4 cans would cost me $2.66 as compared to the $1.59 for a pound of dry. However, for the dollar in savings, I never bother, especially since I can usually find cans even cheaper than 3 for $2. We don't eat too many beans, though, and for me it is far more convenient to have cans in the pantry than to have home-cooked beans crowding my freezer.

          As for quality, I buy Goya canned beans and I find them perfectly good. Home cooked are good too, but not better than Goya, IMO.

          1. Working from a thought experiment since I haven't measured the exact yield from 1 lb of beans, but I see 1 lb of cooked black beans is about 6 cups while a can of black beans is about 1 1/2 cups (drained).

            Basically, 3 to 4 cans is equivalent to 1 lb of dried black beans.

            Intangibles... you can control ingredients when you start from scratch.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dave_c

              especially salt and other additives.