The Cheapest Healthiest Food on the Planet

Photo by: llsimon53

When times are tight, the quality of our food is often what suffers most, and then our cellulite follows right behind (on our behinds). UnWelcome back, fat pants and blood pressure machine! As a health conscious, frugal google, but realist when it comes to the sacredness of time and quality of life, I’ve always purchased canned beans and felt like they were cheap enough, tasty, and a great item under the circumstances. $0.69 for a 15-oz can is nothing (sale price), right?

Well, you might say I’ve had a change of ‘beans’ recently. When you take into account the dirt cheapness of dried beans, the fact that you can do a ‘Quick Soak’ (see below) rather than starting the process 8 years before the meal, and cook a mass quantity and freeze them in 1-cup portions, the cost of dried beans is astronomically cheaper than canned.

Canned beans (on sale) cost about 20 cents per 1/2-cup serving (which provides 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber).

Dried beans (not on sale) cost about 6 cents per 1/2-cup serving (also providing 7 grams protein and 7 grams fiber).

So if you eat beans once a year, no biggie. But wait, if you only eat beans once a year, you’re spending too much on unhealthy food and need to get your grocery list’s act together! Beans will save you!! Even Dr. “God” Oz touted beans this week on his show saying they’re a healthier source of protein than meat, and they contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. More here and here. And if you want to make them less farty, check here.

The challenge is on. This week, fire up some dried beans. They’re probably already in your pantry. I generally cook 3 cups dried at a time (makes about 6 cups cooked). Refridge what you’ll use over the next week, and freeze the rest in 1 or 2-cup portions. Incorporate them into any of these 30 concoctions. Or see if one of the 60 recipes here jump out at you. Nothing? How about the “I Don’t Do Beans” Beans or the Gooey Louie Bean Brownies? Just start somewhere!

For further cost-saving, healthy-eating tips, check out Healthy Eating on the Cheap, and this hot-off-the-press hotcake book by Ellen Jaffe Jones called Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day.

What are some other cheap, life-extending foods?

*Quick Soak Instructions: Cover beans with water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. Drain water. Add new water. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 1 more hour. Two hours is a whole lot better than 2 days, especially when you can pretty much do anything you want during that 2-hour period. 

7 thoughts on “The Cheapest Healthiest Food on the Planet

  1. Get Skinny, Go Vegan. says:

    This is SO true. Sometimes I have to sigh when someone says being plant based is so expensive. Like I have a ton of money or excessive time to worry about these things. I am thinking that I actually grew up plant based because my folks were frugal and trying to reduce what they bought. Which meant a lot of food from the garden and a lot of beans. Always brown rice and always whole wheat bread. That’s why I have loved “The Indian Slow Cooker” book SO much. Because it is so simple and the food costs almost nothing to make. No fat. And lots of healing spices. I hope more really easy recipes (like yours), more vegan slowcooker books without a lot of meat subs., and more Forks Over Knives types of books hit mainstream. Of course if you eat Lean Cuisine and then you go to Organic Amy’s Frozen foods the price is crazy. But if you shop in the produce & bulk sections, even at Whole Foods, it’s a bargain. You don’t have to pay a lot to be plant based AND you don’t even need to spend a lot of time. Oatmeal or smoothies don’t take longer than anything else. Or a raw green vegan food bar if you must have packaging. There are options out there and I am so grateful to you for spreading the word!! Can’t wait to see your book!!

  2. Jen Reilly says:

    Thanks for your comment, Get Skinny, Go Vegan! I was seriously so anti-dried beans until I realized how easy, cheap, and tasty they are. And no cans to recycle! Granted, I did spend $10 on 4 lbs of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market today, but that was a rare impulse buy…. 😉 xoxo Jen

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