The Consumer Price Index (CPI), for supermarket food prices was 12.0 percent higher in November 2022 than November 2021, and the USDA predicts food prices will increase between 3.5 and 4.5 percent in 2023. With the CPI for other consumer goods expected to rise as well, it is increasingly more important—and challenging—to find ways to be prudent with grocery store purchases. One simple way to keep food budgets in check is by adding more nutrient-rich beans as a protein source to meals.
Why Beans? The use of beans to create money-saving meals is not new, but continues to be a popular cost-saving strategy, and for good reason. Despite the ups and downs of food prices and inflation, dry beans still rank as one of the most economical sources of protein. It is hard to beat the value of a serving of beans: A 1/2 cup serving of cooked dry beans costs a mere 7 cents. If a family of four substitutes dry beans for meat once a week for a year, they could save about $225 (The Bean Institute). In addition to being a low-cost ingredient, beans are versatile and provide needed nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium and more. Here are some easy ways to add the money-saving benefits of Michigan Beans to nourishing meals.
- Learn how to prepare batches of dry beans. Many people shy away from dry beans because they may not understand how to prepare them. Next time you are grocery shopping, choose your favorite beans in a dry form and experiment with cooking them. There is always the simple soak and simmer method or you can speed up the process by using your Instant Pot. Check out this Michigan Bean Cooking link to see a video on cooking beans in an Instant Pot along with a cooking chart by bean variety.
- Use cooked beans to stretch your meat budget. Beans are a great way to stretch your food dollar if you partner them with meat or poultry. For example, add half chicken and half beans to your nachos, add more beans to your chili, or create this delicious Plant-Powered Black Bean and Beef Blend that can be used in multiple recipes.
- Have a family bean recipe challenge. As you plan your weekly meals, challenge your family to try 2 new bean recipes each week. Have each family member get a chance to pick out a recipe that sounds good to them and have everyone help with preparation. There are many tasty ideas at MichiganBean.com, or you can try our White Bean, Kale & Roasted Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe below.
- Just add handful. Add the benefits of beans to meals and recipes by the handful. Simply toss cooked beans onto salads, mash them onto wrap sandwiches, or add to your favorite veggie soup. It’s a great way to add needed fiber and other important nutrients to your diet.
- Include beans in seasonal celebrations. Michigan Beans love a good celebration. From family pot lucks to holidays, let beans be part of the party. For instance, replace the chicken with white beans in our Baked Buffalo Dip below and your guests will be raving! Perfect for gluten free diets or vegetarians as well.