Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bean Series: Dry Beans - Cost Comparison and Conversion (Guest Post)

This is the second article in a 4-part bean series. Check out the entire bean series: Week 1, Week 3, Week 4.

Cost Comparison

Are dry beans really cheaper? How much cheaper? I wanted to find out. I estimate canned beans to be running about 60 cents per can these days, and dry beans around $1.20 a pound.

Since a pound of dry beans makes the equivalent of four cans of beans, that would be about 30 cents per can, plus electricity for cooking. I finally found a page that gives the per-hour cost of running an electric stove: 7.5 cents. So if you cook your beans for two hours, you'll pay 15 cents. That would make 45 cents total, and if you cook more than one "can" of beans at a time, you'll pay even less as you can split the cost.

Canned beans: 60 cents for 1 1/2 cups

Dry beans: 35-45 cents for 1 1/2 cups

Converting dry to canned beans

Here is a conversion chart that I compiled to help me use more dry beans. All numbers are approximate, of course, but they've worked for me so far.

A standard can of beans is 15 ounces. Small bags of beans you get at the store are usually 1 pound, but sometimes 2.

1 15-ounce can of beans equals

· 1/2 cup dry beans, before cooking

· 1 1/2 cups beans, after cooking

1 pound dry beans equals

· 2 cups dry beans, before cooking

· 6 cups beans, after cooking

· 4 15-ounce cans of beans

1 part dry beans equals

· 3 parts cooked beans


Stay tuned next week for tips on incorporating dry beans into your menu and lifestyle.


Mrs. Mordecai is a twenty-something homemaker and mother. She chronicles her homekeeping adventures at Be It Ever So Humble.


a-anderson said...

Thanks for the cost and cooking conversions> I had always wondered.

tnt said...

I always knew dry beans were less expensive, just not how much. Thanks!

Grace said...


I have been checking out your site and I think that you have some great information on here.

I really like this post because I have always been afraid to use my dried beans because I didn't know how to cook them or their how they compared to canned once they were cooked.

I do have one question though, does anyone know how to can dried beans once they have been cooked.

I would really like to know cause then I might use my dried beans more often because they will be ready for me to use. Even at last minute.


Joanna said...

Store brand beans are $.67 a can here (on sale!), and dried beans are slightly more than $1.10 regular price. So dried beans are an even better deal for me. :)

Grace, here's a link for canning beans: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_04/beans_peas_shelled.html

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacqui said...

Grace, I make a big pot of bean and then freeze what I don't use in convenient 2 cup servings. It works really well for our family.

Also, like I mentioned on the last bean post, I use my pressure cooker (Presto) to make my beans start to finish in under 90 minutes, so it costs even less than the figures posted. I'd love to share the recipe--email me at jacquilyathotmaildotcom.

cozy at home said...

Wow! thanks... I have been wondering about that for quite awhile now :)

Anonymous said...

Organic dry beans vs organic canned beans gives an even greater cost savings, plus don't forget the BPA in most cans that we should all be avoiding anyhow! A can of organic beans runs from $1.39 to $1.69 at my local store. A pound of organic dry beans is similar in cost, but buying bulk brings it down to around $.99 per pound or less.

And don't you just feel good doing what you know is better for your family AND finances!

Price Comparison said...

Thanks for giving us idea on where to save between dry bean and canned beans. I've been finding ways to save money in these times of economic crisis.

Jodi said...

Don't forget that if you purchase the larger bags the cost per cup is even less... and the good thing is that dried beans stay good "forever"... well not around my house because I use them regularly.

Joanna, thanks for posting the link for Grace, I'm going to check it out too... <><

Odile said...

I switched to dry because of the high SALT content of canned beans. I have a small crockpot which makes it super-easy: 1. SOAK 2.COOK, all in the same pot. It only takes a few seconds of prep time.

First I soak the beans in the crockpot about 12 hours. 1 cup beans to 3 cups water. Usually I start the soaking before going to bed, and the cooking at some time in the morning. To start the cooking I just turn on the crockpot. Adding salt makes the beans tougher, so I don't. I don't add anything else, either. That will come when I use the beans in a recipe. Cooking time depends on the type and age of the beans, so I check every hour or two after the first 5 hours. When they're cooked I use them in recipes that call for canned beans, or cool and store in the fridge (in the same pot or a re-use large commercial jar). I use them within 3 or 4 days, as a main dish, or adding to soups, stews, salads, etc.

Don't sweat the details! Beans can be left to soak anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, until cooking them fits your schedule. If it's going to be more than 12 hours, though, change the water. And if you leave them too long, they'll sprout!

Marion said...

Thanks for this post! It is VERY useful.
The dry beans taste SO much better! We love them! I cook them in my crock pot over night. I just fill my crock pot less than half way with the dry beans and then fill the crock pot with water all the way to the brim. I cook on high all night. They need water early in the morning, so I just add some more or change the water all together. They are usually nearly all the way cooked in the morning.
In the summer, or if I just don't feel like smelling the beans while I sleep, I'l put the crock pot in the carport.
Just be sure to NEVER exceed 1/2 of the crock pot full of beans. You'll have beans EVERYWHERE!! ;)