Cheap and Easy? Dried Beans and the Slow Cooker

Canned beans are a more frugal protein source than meat. But if you are looking to cut your grocery budget to the bone, dried beans can definitely help you out! Not to mention, they are healthy and take up a minuscule amount of pantry space.

But dried beans take forever to soak and cook! Nobody has time for that!

You would think that dried beans would be much less convenient than canned, but you would be wrong! I’ll explain how to make pounds of prepared beans with moments of hands on effort.

Continue reading

Frugal clean eating four bean chili recipe.

Frugal Healthy Vegetarian Four Bean Chili Recipe: A recipe review

I think my favorite part of this recipe from The Gracious Pantry is the short list of simple, cheap ingredients. Every ingredient in the recipe is available at Aldi, which is a HUGE bonus.

This recipe is nearly bullet proof. I have tried it on the stove top, or in the slow cooker. I have tried the Vegetarian version. I have also tried it with ground turkey in place of some of the beans. I have used dried beans that I precooked as well as canned beans. I have swapped out fire roasted tomatoes for some of the diced tomatoes, or in one case a can of tomato sauce in place of one can of diced tomatoes because of a grocery planning fail. The results were all fantastic.

Continue reading

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Panera has killer black bean soup. I started out trying to emulate Panera’s black bean soup when I started this recipe, while still suiting it to my own tastes. This would go along great with corn casserole or crusty bread.

black bean soup 3

I researched Panera copy cat recipes online and found recipes that called for celery and red bell pepper, which I didn’t have on hand. Usually red and yellow bell peppers are in my crisper drawer so maybe I’ll try adding them next time. I rarely have celery. I find I can’t use a whole bunch of celery before it goes bad because quite frankly I don’t looooove celery. I don’t hate it either, I just don’t love it. I added a can of tomatoes and jalapenos (rotel) for spice. You can add less than the whole can if you don’t like as much heat or just substitute diced tomatoes. But I think spice and black beans were meant to be together.

As a note I use dried black beans in this recipe, but I think you could substitute canned, just cut the liquid back substantially. Cooking time could also be reduced with canned beans

Black Bean Soup in the Slow Cooker:

– 1 cup dried black beans picked over, and rinsed

– 1 large onion diced fine

– 1 teaspoon cumin

– 12.5 oz can diced tomatoes and jalapenos undrained

– 2 cloves garlic or one teaspoon pre-minced garlic

– 1 tablespoon better than bullion or bullion cubes per directions on the jar to make 4 cups of broth. Or you could use real chicken stock of you have it.

– Salt to taste

– 1 tablespoon corn starch

– 4 cups water plus extra to make the corn starch slurry

– Salt to taste

Start by sorting and rinsing the black beans. Take out any rocks, discolored, shriveled or otherwise funny looking beans. Add the beans to the crock pot along with the bullion, onion, garlic, cumin, tomatoes and jalapenos and 4 cups of warm water. Hold off on adding extra salt until the end, where you can add it to taste. The bullion and canned tomatoes both have salt. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for ~8 hours or until the beans are cooked through.

black bean soup 2

When the beans are cooked, I like to mash up some of the beans with a potato masher. I like to soup to be creamy but still chunky. You can stop right here, but if an even creamier thicker soup is desired, make a corn starch slurry with about 1/4-1/2 a cup of cold water and 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Mix well before adding to the soup and stirring so corn starch clumps don’t form.

Garnish with any of the following: Sour cream, cilantro, corn chips, cheese, or lime.