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Ain't Worth the Beans
02/06/2013 - by Aundrea Scorup
I’ve heard many surprised exclamations over the years when people have discovered my food storage room. “How do you do it?” they ask. “How can you afford it?” they wonder.
To be honest, you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you. But, I’ll tell you anyway: don’t stock up on canned and boxed food.
Now, before you accuse me of lying to you, or of having some dark ulterior motive, hear me out first. This can save you hours of hard work. No, really!
Canned food is generally expensive to use and replace. Let’s talk simple economics. A 15 oz can of cooked kidney beans at the local grocery store is approximately $.79. I can buy a 20# bag of dried kidney beans from my local supermarket that stocks bulk dry goods for about $18. There are about 3 servings in a can of cooked beans and about 200 servings in a 20 lb bag of dry beans. That equals $.26 per serving for canned kidney beans compared to only $.09 per serving for dried kidney beans!
Said another way, it would take almost 67 cans of cooked beans at a total cost of about $52.66 to acquire the same number of servings you can get out of a 20# bag of dried beans for about $18. That comes out to be almost three times cheaper to buy dried beans!
“So what?” you say. “There’s still the work of soaking and cooking the beans and my time is worth something.” You bet it is! With a net income of $15/hr, you would only have to work 1.2 hours to afford 200 servings of the dried beans as opposed to 3.51 hours for the equivalent 200 servings of canned beans. Additionally, in less time than it will take you to read this article, you can rinse 2 cups of beans and put them on to soak in your programmable crock pot with the delayed start. That’s less time than it takes to open the equivalent 3 cans of beans and put them in a pot.
Hmmm…not sounding quite as time consuming or inefficient as you first thought?
Now consider, also, that there are many dry bulk items that do not require soaking or pre-cooking before they can be used. Items such as lentils, garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, yellow or green split peas, quick oats, corn meal, pasta, barley, black beans, quinoa, long and short grain rice, buckwheat, dried fruit, sugars, flour, salt, and leavening agents are actually ready to cook or use as they are without extra prep work. This is why you can find many of these dry goods pre-mixed and packaged with the instructions on their labels reading “just add water” or “cooks in less than 20 minutes.” Manufacturers know that these foods are easy to use and that they cook quickly—they just want you to pay them for telling you so!
Dry bulk goods are inexpensive and simple to cook with. There’s no need to purchase these items at triple or quadruple the cost in their pre-cooked, pre-mixed, or pre-packaged forms. Consider your income and what you pay for these canned, pre-mixed, or pre-packaged beans, grains, powdered baking and breakfast mixes, and soups, and you will probably find that you aren’t saving the time or money you thought you were by using them as staples.
Using bulk items helps me build my food storage AND feed my family economically, without investing huge quantities of time. It’s sure to be simpler for you than you imagined it to be. Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, dry bulk goods are the way to go: the costs of storing, and cooking with, pre-packaged staples ain’t worth the beans!