Monday, February 03, 2014

Meal Planning 2014 - Slow Cooker Beans

The whole point of meal planning for me is, for the most part, to reduce the cost of our weekly shop. Developments this week mean that this is even more important now (I won't go into it but I'm sure if I say 'Thanks a bunch Tax Credits' you'll get the idea...)

Finding frugal ways to ensure we eat properly is up most in my mind and as we can't really afford very much meat and fish I am looking at other ways to get our protein in!  As a recovering former vegetarian I know the value of beans and pulses and this week I have been experimenting with cooking dried beans in bulk for the freezer so they are ready to use for meals whenever I need them. It's a lot more economical to buy beans dried than pre-cooked in tins but having to cook them for hours on the stove, keeping an eye on water levels so they don't boil dry often puts people off.

But did you know you can cook them in a slow cooker?

Nope me neither until recently. What a revelation!!

It's so easy - you can soak the beans overnight if you want (this reduces cooking time by an hour or two) then just rinse them, pour them into your slow cooker, cover with water with a couple of inches of water above the bean level and cook on high for 4-6 hours.
*please note that while most beans can be cooked in this manner Red Kidney beans contain toxins in their skins that must be boiled off before you slow cook the beans - place the beans in a large pan full of water and bring to the boil. Rapid boil- that is keep it bubbling furiously -  for 10 mins before draining, rinsing and continuing in slow cooker as above.

That's it!

I used a 500g pack of Aduki beans from my local health food shop for less than £2 and this cooked up the equivalent of nearly 6 drained cans of beans, which would cost double that at least!  I packed my cooked beans into freezer bags, about 250g per bag. This is a little more than the drained weight of an average 400g can of beans so when a recipe calls for a tin of drained aduki beans all I need to do is take one of these bags out of the freezer!

I used the equivalent of two cans (approx 450g of cooked beans) to make a supremely tasty Aduki Bean Pie (recipe to be blogged very soon) which cost me about £2.50 to make and would comfortably feed four. There was enough pie filling to freeze half for another meal too!

This is truly frugal, and healthy, food!

You may have noticed by the way that I didn't do a meal planning post last week - this was for various reasons, the main one being it was my birthday and we ate out one night and had pizza on another and freezer food pretty much kept us going the rest of the week. On the down side I experienced that minor 'what are we going to have for tea' panic a couple of times last week - it truly made me appreciate just how helpful meal planning is! On the upside I was well under budget last week which is good as I seem to have run out of EVERYTHING this week!

So here's this week's meal plan - it's pretty basic again as much of this weeks budget will be going on those other non-food necessities - washing up liquid, toilet roll and washing powder!


Homemade Pizza


Toad in the Hole with roast potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy


Pasta with veggie sauce and garlic bread


Homemade Soup and crusty bread


Something from the freezer (Roo has tea at his nan's today)


Chicken and Vegetable Curry and Rice


Veggie Sausage Casserole and mashed potato

ps. you may have noticed I have changed my meal plan order from Saturday to Friday (instead of Monday to Sunday) this is because I normally do a big (ish) shop on Friday or Saturday so it makes more sense for me to plan from there.

1 comment:

  1. That's a good idea with the beans. I discovered dried soya mince a few months ago, which works out a lot cheaper than normal mince and has protein in it.


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