Nutritious beans stretch food budget
Families today are starved for time, starved for money and starved for well-balanced meals, and USDA projections hold another piece of bad news: food prices are likely to increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year.
The good news is there is one powerful five-letter word that will save you money on your food budget, allow you to eat healthier and cook less: beans.
Beans and legumes are a powerhouse of nutrition, heart healthy and very economical. There are endless varieties of beans and legumes and just as many ways to cook them. They can be served as a main dish, a salad and as a dessert. (See below recipes.)
Besides being a great source of protein, beans are naturally low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Most beans contain only 2 percent to 3 percent fat and no cholesterol. They even help lower your cholesterol because they are so rich in fiber. Most beans contain 20 percent protein and are high in complex carbohydrates. In addition, they are rich in B vitamins and iron.
To save money at the grocery store, try eating beans and legumes once or twice a week. Cook your own beans instead of using canned and save even more. If you cook up a big batch, freeze some for use in future recipes. Delicious bean recipes can contain as little as four ingredients.
3 can chili
- 1 14 1/2 oz can of whole kernel corn
- 1 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes (can use Mexican-style tomatoes with chilies added)
- 1 14 1/2 oz can of beans or 2 cups of cooked beans (pinto, kidney or your choice)
- Chili powder to taste
Add all ingredients and heat and serve. For added flavor you can add chopped onions and peppers.
- 6-8 eggs
- 2 cups of salsa, store-bought or homemade
- 1 15 oz. can of beans (pinto, kidney, black, etc.) or 2 cups of cooked beans
- 1/4 cup of shredded cheese
Heat salsa and beans in a pan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Crack an egg in a bowl and add one at a time. Cover and cook until eggs are firm -- about 6 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Cover until the cheese melts. Serve with rice and tortillas.
Lentils cooked with smoked turkey leg
- 1 pound of lentils rinsed and sorted
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
- 2 cups each chopped celery and onions
- 2 cups of sliced or chopped carrots
- 1 large smoked turkey leg
Add to a pot, cover with water and cook until lentils are done. Remove the cooked turkey leg from the pot and remove the meat. Chop the meat in bite size pieces and add back to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. This recipe can be cooked in a crock pot.Bean fudge
- 2/3 cup canned milk
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 1/2 cups strained pinto beans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup nuts
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
By Margaret Johns
Nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Kern County
Beans are an inexpensive form of protein.