Have I mentioned we eat a lot of beans and rice? I think I may have at some point...Have I also mentioned that I don't normally buy canned beans due to the whole BPA factor (and also the price)? That means that I cook a lot of dry beans. And I don't have one of those fancy pressure cookers either...I am soaking my beans the night before (or more often using the quick soak method), and I am cooking them in the morning.
At first I started cooking one pound of beans at a time. However, I quickly realized that was not worth my time. We would go through that pound of beans in a couple days - remember I am making meals for my whole family at home every. single. day. Beans are definitely a staple. Then I started cooking a bit extra, and freezing them. I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Freezing beans. Would the texture be worse? Would they become mush when I heated them up again? Surprisingly, no, the texture was like a fresh cooked bean, no mush in sight!
Well, when I realized that my family didn't have a clue I was using frozen beans instead of freshly cooked, I decided I had to do my part and build up a bit of a stock of frozen beans. Now, on Mondays, I tend to cook a lot of beans. Mainly black and pinto beans, these seem to be the ones we use the most. I frequently cook 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of each variety at a time. My multi cooker pot is frequently put to good use. :-) Then, when they are cooked, I drain them and freeze them in ziploc freezer bags.
I think that the beans freeze really well. They don't freeze in clumps. Or if they are in clumps, they are broken up easily. I can use them in salads, or in soups and other hot dishes. I haven't tried freezing rice yet, it was next on my list. However, after I read a few articles on arsenic in rice...well I am re-thinking my desire to incorporate this grain into our diets. I never ate rice growing up. We had a lot of potatoes instead...probably because we live in Maine...and my mom had quite a large garden. My husband always had rice at every meal, so I have been trying to incorporate it more. I think I am going to go back to my local potatoes for the starch though. It sounds a bit strange with beans. But, potatoes and salsa are a great meal, so why not have black beans or pinto beans with it instead of rice?
I think that having the frozen beans are a great idea for a quick fix meal. Not having to deal with cooking beans every day, or using the canned beans, it is a great option. I am really enjoying moving my family more towards a whole food diet. Having some convenience is definitely important though. I also like that I can control the ingredients when cooking my own beans. They aren't packed in oil or lard like canned beans, and they don't have any salt added, so I can season as I want without concern for the extra seasonings.
Do you cook staples in bulk? Is it easier to meal plan if you know what is available in your freezer or even your pantry instead of having to cook something new every time?
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