welcome Saver. A weekly column where food editor and registered dietitian Jessica Ball keeps it real about how to grocery shop on a budget, cook healthy meals for one or two, and make Earth-friendly choices without rethinking your entire life.
As a dietitian on a budget, I’m always looking for ways to help my dollar go further at the grocery store. That’s why I started adding more canned beans to my cart a few years ago. And since then, I’ve discovered several reasons to love them. In fact, running out of canned beans these days is my incentive to go to the grocery store and stock up, so I always have a constant supply. Canned beans are highly nutritious, inexpensive, and incredibly versatile. Read on for more details on why I love them so much, as well as some of my favorite ways to use them.
They are super nutritious
Foods made from scratch are often considered healthier than prepared foods. But is that the case with dried beans versus canned beans? You might be surprised to know that the nutrition is almost the same when you compare canned beans to dried beans. According to the Department of Agriculture, the dried nutrition for 1 cup of low-sodium canned black beans and 1 cup of cooked black beans is:
|Nutrition||1 cup low-sodium canned beans||1 cup of cooked dried black beans|
|Carbohydrates||40 g||41 g|
|Dietary fiber||17 g||15 g|
|Total sugar||0.5 g||0.5 g|
|Added sugar||0 g||0 g|
|Proteins||14.5 g||15 g|
|Total fat||0.7 g||0.9 g|
|Saturated fats||0.1 g||0.2 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 g|
|Sodium||331 mg||2 mg|
|Potassium||739 mg (28% daily value)||611 mg (24% DV)|
|iron||4.6 mg (26% DV)||3.6 mg (21% DV)|
|Magnesium||84 mg (26% DV)||120 mg (37% DV)|
As you can see, canned and dried prepared beans are almost identical in calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates. The main difference between the two is that canned beans can sometimes have more sodium added during processing, while you can control the amount of salt added to home-cooked beans. If you want to limit sodium in your diet, choose “low sodium” or “no salt” canned beans. Also, remember to rinse any canned beans, as the liquids they’re stored in are where most of the sodium is.
Regardless of how they are prepared, beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron and magnesium. Simply put, they are a great addition to your diet. In fact, some experts consider them the #1 food to help you live longer and healthier.
Related to: What happens to your body when you eat beans every day?
They are versatile and convenient
Not only are canned beans packed with nutrients, but they’re also really convenient, especially compared to their dried counterparts. Dried beans can be cooked for hours before they are ready to be added to a dish, while canned beans can be used right out of the can. Plus, canned beans can last for years in your pantry as long as the can doesn’t spoil or get damaged in any way. So you can easily keep them on hand without worrying about them going bad.
What’s more, canned beans come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, making them a great addition to many dishes. Try them in a salad or grain bowl, like our fiber-packed White Bean and Spinach Salad or Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Farro Bowls for added protein and fiber. Or let them be the star of the show in dishes like Dill and Caper Salad with Pea Purée or Baked Bean Casserole. Mix them into a delicious, creamy dip like our Garlic Hummus when you need a snack in a pinch. You can even add them to sweet recipes like our Peanut Butter and Chickpea Blondies.
They are budget friendly
Last but certainly not least, beans are one of the most effective foods to help you eat healthier. They usually cost about $1 per box, only about $0.06 per ounce, while meat or meat alternatives can cost around $0.50 per ounce (for cheap cuts like ground beef or chicken thighs). That means meat choices can cost 10 times more than canned beans. And meat has a much shorter shelf life, so it’s more likely to lead to food waste than the trusty can. So, as you can see, canned beans are a budget-friendly way to add more satisfying protein to your meal.
Planning at least one bean-based meal each week helps me eat more plant-based, save money, and meet my nutritional goals while staying within my budget. Hot tip. I like to stock up on beans at Costco to save even more and make sure I always have some when I need them.
If you want to save money and eat healthy, canned beans are one of the best sources of protein. Plus, they keep for years and are ready to use for quick and easy meals. They can even help you reach your nutritional goals and promote longevity. I hope these reasons motivate you to add more beans to your meals and grocery list. For more inspiration, check out this collection of my favorite budget-friendly recipes starring canned beans.
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