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Eat Well, Spend Less: 5 Ways with Beans [Emergency Preparedness]

This month’s Eat Well, Spend Less topic is emergency preparedness.

Part of emergency preparedness is having a well-stocked pantry.

Whether through natural disasters, job loss, or unplanned expenses, many of us at one point in our lives may have to rely on the food we’ve put away in our pantries.

And the real problem is, we’ll never know when that may be.

black bean mexican pizza

pictured: Black Bean Mexican Pizza

But emergency preparedness doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

Sometimes every day emergencies can take a huge toll on the dinner preparations.

It’s important to think about emergency preparedness even if you don’t worry about hurricanes, tornadoes or tsunamis.

Every day emergencies happen all the time: forgotten lunch boxes that mean extra trips to school, a neighbor or friend needing babysitting help, car keys locked in the door while out running errands.

All of these things have happened to me and at the time feel very “emergency” like and can keep me from staying with the plan for the rest of the day – including the meal plan.

I keep my pantry well stocked with lots of canned beans because they’re one of my favorite pantry staples for quick, inexpensive meals.

They help get meals on the table during big and small emergencies.

I realize that dried beans are often more economical and probably have a longer shelf life, but for now canned beans are convenient for me so that’s what I’ll be discussing..

black bean salad recipe

pictured: Black Bean Salad


One might wonder why I’ve chosen the bean as my favorite go-to for these quick, easy pantry meals as well as a great emergency preparedness item, but there’s really no mystery behind it.

A Great Base for Filling Vegetarian Meals

We aren’t vegetarians but we eat that way at least twice a week.

It’s easy to turn many of your favorite family meals into vegetarian fare. (How to Vegetarian-ize a Meat Based Main Dish).

Beans are a quick non-perishable substitute for meat in many recipes.

Since we’re talking emergency preparedness, if you’re power is out fresh (or frozen) meat won’t do you much good, but you can use beans in a dish instead without worrying about spoilage.

An Inexpensive Protein Source

On the other hand, if you’re out of work or tight for money due to unplanned expenses, going vegetarian for a while can cut down on your grocery bill.

A can or two added to a main dish often cost a fraction of even some of the least expensive cuts of meats.

Beans are great to have in your emergency preparedness back pocket.

They add bulk to your recipes during financially lean times when meat may be more of a treat than a mainstay.

white bean chili verde bean recipes

pictured: White Bean Chicken Chili Verde

Beans are Very Versatile

Beans are versatile and can be cooked so many ways.

From soups and stews to pizza, salads, and dips there’s a lot of options there, not to mention vast variety of beans that can be used.

Our favorite beans happen to be black beans, but there’s kidney, canellini, garbanzo, and so many more.

Get Dinner on the Table Fast

I like beans on busy nights because they’re fast and get dinner on the table.

There is no thawing of meat or marinading that needs to take place in order for the beans to be ready for preparation.

Canned beans are easy and quick and they get the job done.

Dried beans take longer, but with an investment in a pressure cooker or a little planning ahead (when you’re not experiencing a natural disaster or other chaotic emergency) those too can cook up quickly once you start the actual cooking process.

See How to Cook with Dry Beans for tips and instructions for prepping dried beans for recipes.

garbanzo bean recipe

pictured: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


  1. Black Bean Breakfast Burritos: Breakfast for dinner is often a welcome change. In this recipe eggs and beans provide protein and are both inexpensive.
  2. White Bean Chicken Chili Verde: Soup is a great way to stretch meat a little farther, but for a more inexpensive (and vegetarian) version, try using all beans and no meat and subbing vegetable broth.
  3. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Don’t think of hummus just as an appetizer, but rather as a base for building something bigger. We love it as a spread on sandwiches like these Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches and have even used it as a sauce on pizza. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a “non-supper” but you still need to feed your family dinner.
  4. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili: Chili is a fall and winter staple. In this unexpected twist you rely on black beans for the bulk of the meal. Serve this with honey cornbread muffins for a special treat.
  5. Red Beans and Rice: This cajun favorite showcases big, red kidney beans. Dishes like this are great because the building blocks (beans and rice) are so inexpensive and often have a long shelf life.

Do you cook a lot with beans? What are your favorite ways to use them?

eat well spend less 5 ways with beans

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Evelyn Cucchiara

Monday 26th of September 2011

I cannot wait to try this recipe - combines all of my favorite foods!


Sunday 25th of September 2011

Visiting from a link on Food Your Way blog. I sense a welcome variety coming to our family meal plans! Thanks for the info and the recipes!

Kelly Hartman

Saturday 24th of September 2011

LOVE this post! Was just thinking about doing something with beans, trying to make them myself instead of buying them canned. Thanks!


Thursday 22nd of September 2011

For all those who love the convienence of the canned bean, I'm with you! But I have learned that I can cook a whole pot of dried beans, then separate them into small 1-2 cup containers to freeze. When adding them to soups and such, it is very easy to just plop the frozen beans into the pot and lid it. They thaw in no time at all.

Jen at The Three Little Piglets

Wednesday 21st of September 2011

I love throwing some black beans onto a salad - they go with so many things and add that punch of protein I need at lunch. I'm also a big fan of black bean and chorizo pizza...