Thursday, May 19, 2011

Adventures in Frugality: Crock Pot Beans and Tasty Recipes

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my dear friend, Jennifer at Half-Baked Homeschool, that I passed up the canned black beans at Publix because I knew I could get them cheaper at Aldi. She said, "You know, the cheapest thing to to do is buy dried black beans, cook them yourself, and store them in the freezer."

I'm always amazed by how some extremely obvious facts fail to make an impression on my feeble mind.


I love to use my slow cooker as much as possible so I don't have to think about what's on the stove while I'm attempting to educate my children. I did a bit of research to discover the best way to cook dried beans in a Crock Pot. Kalyn's Kitchen has a clear and helpful article. As I type, black beans are simmering away in my slow cooker, and I'm feeling both productive and frugal.

In case you're wondering, we don't eat black beans by themselves. I use them in recipes, such as Impossibly Easy Taco Pie. But I make changes to the original recipe. I don't ever use packets of taco seasoning; I use a homemade blend (see below). And I typically don't use green chiles, since I don't keep them on hand. Third, I use a mixture of half ground beef (or ground turkey) AND -- you guessed it -- black beans.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
After browning and draining about a pound of ground beef or ground turkey, mix in:

1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. each: ground cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder
2 T. ketchup
1/4 cup water

Stir all together and cook over medium heat about five minutes. This recipe comes from Desperation Dinners! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

For the taco pie, I use half the seasoned meat and half black beans. I freeze the other half of the meat for later use.

Another recipe that features black beans is Santa Fe Chicken Casserole. I alter this one, too. I usually omit the green onions. And I don't buy the cooking creme; I just mix softened cream cheese and salsa. Medium salsa, which is usually too fiery for the girls, is good here, since the cream cheese cools in down. I typically use shredded Cheddar instead of the Mexican blend cheese.

Black beans are also good in chili and Chicken Tortilla Soup. The link is the basic recipe; when I made it for book club, I used my slow cooker and made a few changes. I can't recall now what those changes were, exactly. Be creative (within reason, of course)!

I'm on a roll with this frugality stuff!


  1. I need to do this with some pinto beans. Did you know you can freeze the beans, as well? I have black beans in the freezer right now, but need to add some pintos, red beans and navy beans so I'll have a variety. It is easier to cook a bunch and freeze them and have them ready! Makes it much easier for me to pass up cans at the grocery store!

  2. Melinda, mine are in the freezer right now! Navy beans are next on my list and then pintos. Yay!

  3. I love black beans! I cook up all the different kinds of beans in huge batches and then freeze them in various containers (I reuse any glass container with a lid - we try to buy only products in glass containers or without containers from the grocery store).

    Be careful though if you are freezing in glass - you want to make sure the product going into the freezer is at room temperature. If you put piping hot beans into the glass and then into the freezer, it tends to crack. (I know, common sense, but I did it without thinking once.)


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