Taco night is the perfect dinner for a family with picky eaters. As long as there are a few fillings that everyone enjoys, different family members can choose what they want to include in their tacos. We have taco night every few weeks, and my favorite part is the leftover taco salad that I get to eat for lunch the next day. Instead of depending on taco meat, I always include pinto beans or black beans as part of our taco spread. By using the slow cooker, I don’t have to worry about a pot of beans boiling over on the stove. I place a piece of kombu in the cooking water while the beans soak and cook, and this has two benefits. It infuses the beans with minerals from this sea plant, and it also nullifies the gassy side effects of the beans. Kombu is worth the price you pay at Whole Foods or an Asian market because you only need to include a small piece of kombu in order to see its benefits.
Canned beans are a nice convenience once in a while, but homemade beans are so much more affordable. Here’s the breakdown for you:
- Dry beans cost $.14 per cup of cooked beans.
- Canned beans cost $.60 for a cup of cooked beans.
- Cooked beans in a can cost more than four times as much as dry beans.
1 lb. dry pinto beans (about 2½ cups uncooked beans)
1 inch by 2 inch piece of kombu
1 tsp. onion powder
¾ tsp. cumin
¾ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1½ tsp. salt
- In the pot of a slow cooker, cover the beans with 8 cups of water. Add the kombu and soak overnight.
- In the morning, remove the kombu temporarily and drain the beans. Rinse them and then return them to the pot.
- Return the kombu to the pot and cover with water or broth. I add water an inch higher than the top of the beans.
- Add the seasonings to the slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 6 hours. Check on the beans periodically to see if they are tender. When they are beginning to get tender (after about 6 hours), turn the temperature up to high for 30 minutes.
- When the beans are well-softened, drain most of the water. Taste the beans and top them off with a little more seasoning if needed.
This recipe costs $1.63 to make, and it yields 8 cups of cooked beans. The cost per ½ cup serving is $.10 per serving. Ten cents! A comparable amount of ground turkey costs $.37 per serving, almost 4 times as much as the beans. You won’t believe how delicious and flavorful these beans are, and they are a great way to stretch your grocery budget.