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Posts Tagged ‘beans’


We’ve been trying really hard to save many the last few months. Things have a way of popping up when you least expect them and sometimes it can feel like you only barely come to the surface for a breath before dipping below the surface again. I’ve needed to go see the dentist, Girl needed a new car seat, I bumped into someone’s car with my car in the car park, so we had to pay an insurance bill and Darren has needed to see the physio for his back. All of these things add up and sometimes we feel like we will never finish our housebus. I see light at the end of the tunnel, but these are a few of the things I do to cut costs in the kitchen while keeping things highly nutritious. It really helps to keep costs down so they can go on other more urgent or important things.

1. Buy Bulk.

This would have to be the biggest saver for us. Buying things prepackaged usually increases the cost of an item. Occasionally I am surprised though. For us it’s cheaper to buy raisins and oats prepacked. But for everything else I like to find a store that keeps things in bins where I can choose how much to buy or buy a large bag that might last me a year or more. I like how everything looks in my own jars or containers, but I like the look of my pocket even more. Sometimes places like this will give you a discount for bringing your own jars too.

2. Bake your own bread.
Good, wholemeal bread can cost a fortune. Here in New Zealand you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 -$5 a loaf at the grocery store, and even more if you buy specialty breads. The way we like to make our money last is to buy bulk yeast and flour, find a good recipe and bake our own. You can find recipes that don’t take all day, and if you’re away too much, breadmakers are awesome. Here’s a loaf I made last night. Yum!

3. Eat Less Meat. Try More Legumes.

This is an easy one for us because we are vegetarian, but cutting meat even one or two days a week can make a difference. Bulk bought beans, or lentils go a long way and there are so many ways to prepare them. Try cutting half the meat in a mince or ground beef recipe and add lentils or black beans instead. If it’s the long cooking times that frustrate you, try a slow cooker or my favourite trick, the quick soak. In place of soaking overnight, bring beans to a boil and remove from the heat. Let sit two hours. Drain and cover with new water to remove the enzymes that tend to cause gas. Bring to boil and simmer until done which varies for different beans. Freeze extras for convenient beans later. Also, the more often you eat beans, your body starts digesting them better and they’ll stop giving you gas. If you’re really keen, grow your own like I did in this post last year. I’m still eating those pinto beans!

4. Shop at Closeout Stores.

You would be amazed at the deals you can find at closeout and bargain grocery shops. Their stock is always changing because they only get stuff from companies that have excess product or items that will soon expire. Last time I picked up cans of fruit for a fraction of the price and these bottles of date syrup were only $1 each. I’ve seen them at $7 before at full price. I stocked up because while sellers have to put a best buy date on items, many of these things last much longer. The date syrup is really nice on peanut butter toast or substituted for maple or honey.

5. Make a Salad for the Whole Week

Cabbages, carrots and beets can go a really long way when shredded into a salad. Toss together and pull out what you need when you need it for the next week. It doesn’t go wilty like lettuces do. Add some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and you have a gourmet coleslaw packing a punch with lots of vitamins and minerals.

So! Those are the top five things I like to do to cut costs while keeping it healthy. I hope they’ve given you some ideas. Let me know what tips work for you. What do you do in your kitchen to make ends meet?

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Three types of beans we grew

I had a goal at the beginning of this summer where I thought it would be a really awesome idea to grow our own dry beans. I wanted to get at least a year’s supply. The idea of sustainability is very infectious for me. I love anything that hints at it. Make your own, do it yourself, minimalism, all of it is fascinating. However, I’ve started to realize that some of these ideas are a bit of a fantasy really. They sound so lovely, not to need to depend on anything but your own efforts, but in reality, the amount of work in doing things this way is tremendous. You would actually need you your whole family to quit their day jobs and come help do everything. And this is exactly what people used to do. Their job was survival, and working year to year to make sure there was enough food to eat and enough warm clothes and bedding and firewood for the winter. 

This summer I did grow enough beans to last us at least a year if not more, but the process gave me mixed feelings about the loveliness and fantastic ideas I had when I started. We had a terrible season, with a lot of rain. It made planting happen late and we had to harvest the beans before they finished drying because they started molding on the plant. I didn’t have to worry about watering while they grew, but they never would have dried on their own. Below is a picture of our garden this year. The light coloured green is the beans that are starting to die off and right before we harvested.

The next photo is a trailer with all the bean plants pulled up by the roots and piled up.

The next task was to get those beans off the plants and spread out somewhere so they could finish drying. Thankfully I had some help from Darren’s Uncle, Mum and Brothers (Darren was at work). Then I had to shell the beans, put them in trays with screens for bottoms that Darren’s mum had lying around and allow them to finish drying. Lastly, I had to sort through all those beans and pick out any that had any mold on them, which was quite a few. This process took about four weeks and was grueling. This was mostly because I was shelling all the beans by hand, one by one. Near the end, I discovered that if I put a bunch of pods in a pillow case and banged it around, all the beans would just fall out. This made the last few beans finish up quite fast. Below is a photo of the beans being shelled (Darrens mum helped a little in the beginning) and the next photo is the beans finished.

 I got 7 cups or 1.4 kg/3.1 lb of kidney beans, 33 1/2 cups or 6.2 kg/13.7 lb of black beans, and 41 cups or 7.1 kg/15.6 lb of pinto beans. Through it all, I feel that when we run out of beans, I will be buying more instead of planting more. I think it was a great experience, and I learned a lot, and feel like I gained skills that I would need if indeed we had to grow all our own food at some point. But for now, that effort probably would be better placed in growing other foods that are actually better off being homegrown and organic to avoid the chemicals they spray on them, such as potatoes and corn.

Below are some other things we grew despite the terrible weather. 2 canteloupe and one small watermelon (only one ripened).

We grew more, but maybe I’ll share that another time. All in all, growing a garden is very rewarding, but be very thankful we are privileged to live in a time and place where we can buy our food if we need to.

I’m so happy to be done looking at beans!!! Haha…

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