Today I’m going to put one popular grocery savings strategy to the test: is it worth it to cook dry beans from scratch? Join me to find out!
Drop Caps There are lots of tips for saving money out there, but some of them can be pretty involved and time consuming. It often leaves me wondering, is it worth it? Today I’m going to put one such money saving strategy to the test:
It often leaves me wondering, is it worth it? Today I’m going to put one such money saving strategy to the test: is it worth it to cook dry beans from scratch?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen just to save a few pennies. I want to know whether any given money saving tip is really saving me money and whether it’s worth putting in the time it takes.
Like I’m always telling my grocery savings students, the point is not to make everything from scratch (unless you’re doing it for health reasons). Sometimes, cooking from scratch saves several hundred dollars a year with just a little bit of effort.
On the other hand, I’m just as much on the look out to find strategies that masquerade as ways to save money that don’t really save much or just aren’t worth the time.
After all, I have two little kids and a business and a home to run. I don’t have any time to waste!
Is it worth it to cook dry beans from scratch?
It takes a simple calculation to find out if it’s worth it to cook dry beans (or any food) from scratch.
This example is based on my personal grocery price list for grocery prices that I can find in my area and for the amount that my family eats.
You can simply replace the numbers from your own price list to find out if it’s right for your family. If you haven’t started a price list of your own yet, you can download a free printable here.
How much do you save?
Cost for Canned Beans
For this example, we’ll consider canned black beans vs. dried black beans. Both are organic.
The cost at Costco for canned organic black beans is $6.79 for 8 cans.
$0.85 per can /3.5 servings per can = $0.24 per serving
Cost for Dry Beans
Dry, organic black beans at Azure Standard are $1.41 per pound.
$1.41 per pound / 8 servings per pound = $0.18 per serving
How much do you save?
Our family eats about 32 servings of black beans per month. Of course, this varies, but let’s say that’s a good average.
Amount Saved: $1.92 per month
Even though dried beans are 25% cheaper than canned, you’re going to have to eat a lot of them to amount to much grocery savings!
How long does it take?
It doesn’t take much hands-on prep time to make dry beans from scratch.
Just dump them in a pot, cover with water, and let them soak overnight. The next day, turn the stove on and let them boil for 45 minutes or so. You can get complete instructions here.
I’d say I would spend maybe 20 minutes total for the month. However, to save just $1.92 that’s not a very good return on my time.
I’ll tell ya, I was pretty skeptical when I started this little exploration. It turns out my hunch was right. If you’re doing it to save money, cooking dry beans from scratch isn’t really worth your time.
However, there are several other reasons you might still want to cook dry beans from scratch. These are why I will keep choosing dry beans over canned.
- Beans are a cheap source of slow burning carbohydrates, fiber, protein and minerals that will keep you feeling full. In that respect, beans in general (whether canned or dry) are a good way to save money on groceries.
- Canned goods almost always contain BPA.
- Canned beans are also high in processed salt.
- Soaking beans helps to neutralize phytic acid and makes them easier to digest.
Even though cooking dry beans from scratch may not save much money, the health and nutritional benefits may be enough to justify the small inconvenience.