You know how you have a brilliant idea to get healthy and save money by buying heaps of dried beans, lentils and chickpeas and then they sit in your pantry for a decade or so because you’re never organised enough to soak them overnight before cooking them? After all, that’s why God invented canned beans, right?
Here at the Frogdancer house, I’m on a mission to try and get our grocery bill down. I did my figures on our yearly expenditure last year and we spent an average of $230 a week on food for 4 people and 3 small dogs. That’s just under 12K a YEAR if my computer’s calculator is correct.
One of my sons, Evan21, is vegetarian. Before he leaves to go and live in Ballarat to do his uni course, I figure that I should try to use up these beans and lentils I have kicking around. But I can’t see myself being any more “think ahead-y” with the whole soaking of them the night before, so I had to come up with a more user-friendly way to utilise them.
Enter my brilliant Use The Freezer method. Wait until I tell you how it works and you’ll agree. The woman’s a genius…
First off, the last time I used a tin of beans, I weighed how much the beans actually weighed after the brine was drained from the tin. Although the tin says 400g, you really get around 250g of beans.
Then, I grabbed a pack of cannellini beans and threw a saucepan with water on the stove. I let them soak in it for a while, adding water as the beans swelled. Then, after a couple of hours, I cooked them for another couple of hours. Obviously, this is a job well suited for holidays or weekends.
Once cooked, I simply used the scales on my thermomix, grabbed some freezer bags and weighed the beans out into roughly 250g lots. I got 8 ‘tins’ worth of cooked beans out of one 500g pack of dried beans. I’d tell you how much each bag cost me, but it’s been so long since I bought the beans that I seriously have no idea. (Besides… Maths. Ugh.)
Now here’s the brilliant part. Those bags are now sitting in my freezer, ready to be used whenever the fancy takes me. I tested out whether it’d work by making Butter Chicken but with beans instead of chicken. I used 3 bags of beans and followed the directions for the vegetarian option she has in her book.
It was delicious. The beans were the same consistency as if I’d used tinned and we all wolfed it down. I fed my family for far less money than if I’d used chicken and we were all satisfied.
The beauty of using the beans this way is that I only need to be organised ONCE. Once I’ve set aside the time to get the beans soaked and cooked and they’re bagged and in the freezer, I can be as footloose and fancy-free as I like about menu planning.
Plus the best thing? On our way to FI and FIRE, we can get so focused on the future. It tickles me that I’m not ignoring Past Frogdancer’s efforts and I’m utilising the materials she put in place, even if it’s just a pack of beans. It makes me think that Future Frogdancer, (that wrinkled old crone), will one day look back and thank me for what I’m putting into place now.
It’s all connected.