We go through a lot of canned beans in this house.  Curried chick peas on rice, kidney bean tacos, and baked beans on toast, are just a few of our favourite meals around here.  I have always bought canned beans, but recently began to wonder what the dry beans were all about.  I knew nothing about them except they required soaking, and they didn't sound as easy as opening up a can.  My interest in the dry beans grew as I noticed that canned beans have been rising in price.  I thought they were $0.79/can, but then they were $0.89/can, and on my most recent visit they were $0.99/can.  Keep in mind I am buying the store brand of beans; I think the name brand is $1.19/can.  So my desire to get a deal pushed my wonder into action and I bought dry chick peas and kidney beans to give them a shot.

Dry beans do require a little more effort than canned beans, but to my calculations, it is well worth it.  Also, the effort is limited to the soaking/cooking process, which only needs to be done once to make quite a few Ziplocks full of beans.  The beans can then be frozen and used just as conveniently as opening up a can.  Even though the cooking time for the beans is 90 minutes, it is not an active 90 minutes that requires constant attention.  While the beans were cooking I was able to do quite a few other things (dishes, prepared dinner, tidied the living room, played on the internet); I wasn't stuck in the kitchen.

Preparing Dry Beans

The preparation instructions are the same for the chick peas and the kidney beans.  First, soak the beans for 12 hours in cold water in the refrigerator.  For every cup of beans used, soak in 3 cups of water.  I soaked mine overnight - time moves faster while you are sleeping.  Sort of.  ;)

Next, boil the beans in fresh water for 90 minutes.  Once boiling, keep them cooking on medium high heat (about 7). If the water becomes too foamy, add 1 tbs of olive oil to lessen it.  My beans foamed a little, but not enough to require adding oil.  About half way through cooking, top up the pot with more water to ensure the beans remain fully covered while boiling.

Kidney beans (back left), Chick peas (front right)

After the beans finish boiling, drain them and soak them in cold water to bring their temperature down.  For the chick peas you will have to pick out any casings that have come loose; you will see them floating in the water.  I stirred the chick peas a number of times to loosen and remove as many casings as I could.  Next measure desired amounts into Ziploc bags (I stored 1.5 cups of beans/bag, the equivalent of 1 can of beans).

Store the beans in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.  Mine are all in the freezer until I am ready to use them.

Benefits of Dry Beans

I found preparing beans from dry to be lot cheaper than buying them canned.  A can of beans can cost anywhere from $0.79 (if on sale) to $1.19 (name brand).  For my calculations, I will say an average can of beans is $0.99.

Chick Peas:
5 cups dry = $1.99.  Once cooked, 5 cups dry = 13.75 cups cooked.
If approximately 1.5 cups = 1 can of chick peas, then 5 cups dry = 9.17 cans.
Which makes the price: $1.99/9.17 = $0.22/"can"

Kidney Beans:
5 cups dry = $2.29.  Once cooked, 5 cups dry = 11.5 cups cooked.
If approximately 1.5 cups = 1 can of kidney beans, then 5 cups dry = 7.67 cans.
Which makes the price: $2.29/7.67 = $0.30/"can"

That is savings between $0.69 - $0.77/can.  Over time those savings will definitely add up!

Less Ingredients:
The other bonus of using dry beans vs. canned: less salt.  I am not too salt conscious, but less sodium is probably a good thing in the long run.

Ingredients, Chick Peas, canned: chick peas, water, salt, disodium EDTA
Ingredients, Chick Peas, dry: chick peas

Ingredients, Kidney Beans, canned: kidney beans, water, salt, calcium chloride, disodium EDTA
Ingredients, Kidney Beans, dry: kidney beans

From here on out, I'm definitely going with dry beans.  Pulling a bag of beans out of the freezer instead of a can from the shelf, is a small change that will save me both money and added salt/preservatives. Sounds good to me!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, April 26, 2010 2 comments


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just typed 'canned vs dry chic peas' into google and found your article. It was exactly the information I was looking for. I had never heard of this website before but I will visit frequently now:)

  2. Thanks for the comment! :) Glad I could help!


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