Friday, May 10, 2013

Frugal Friday: Cost Analysis of Dried beans versus Canned

For today's Frugal Friday post I'd like to explore the cost savings of buying dried beans versus canned. Early this week I posted a recipe about how to make refried beans in the pressure cooker. I alluded to the fact that it's a lot cheaper to cook dry beans from scratch than to buy canned beans. But today I'd like to do the math so that you can see for yourself really how much money you can save by cooking dry beans instead of buying canned beans.

I'm going to specifically compare the price of buying and cooking dry black beans with the price of buying cans of black beans. Because all beans are slightly different in size, cooking time and cost, this analysis will vary slightly if you want to compare a different kind of bean. But I think the conclusions that I present will represent a general rule for all dry beans.

Two important facts about black beans:
  1. 1 cup of dried black beans yields about 3 cups of cooked beans.
  2. Each 13.5 oz. can of black beans contains about 1-3/4 Cups of cooked beans.
At WinCo right now, the bulk bin price for most kinds of beans (including black beans) is about $1/lb. give or take a few cents. I've found that 1 lb. of black beans is almost exactly 2 Cups dried beans. As per fact #1 above, 2 Cups dried beans will yield about 6 cups of cooked beans.  So 6 cups of cooked black beans will cost roughly $1. If you divide $1 by 6 cups you will find that cooked black beans (from dry beans) will cost about $0.17 per cup.

I can find dry beans a lot cheaper if I buy them in large quantities. I can buy 25 lbs of black beans for $16 (or less). That's $0.64 per pound or $0.11 per cup of cooked dry beans (bought in large quantities).

Lets compare these prices with the prices for canned black beans. At the grocery store, I can sometimes find canned beans for $0.59 a can on sale. That's a good price, the non-sale price will be closer to $0.75. As per face #2 above, each can will yield 1-3/4 cups of cooked black beans. If I divide the price ($0.59) by 1.75 (for 1-3/4 Cups), I find that buying canned beans at the store (on a really good deal) costs $0.34 per cup of cooked beans. 

I cook my beans in an electric pressure cooker, but you can also cook them on the stove or even in a crock pot. I'm going to use the pressure cooker to calculate electricity because that's what I use. My electric pressure cooker runs on 1000-Watts or 1KW. As I mentioned in my cost analysis of homemade bread, our electricity costs about $0.10 per kWh (kilowatt hour). Black beans take about 20 to 50 minutes to cook (depending on the recipe and whether you soak them or not). So at the most, the electricity will cost about $.08 to cook a big batch of beans. When that's divided over 6 Cups of cooked beans, that's a little more than $0.01.

Buying canned beans from the store will cost at least twice as much as it costs to buy dry beans and cook them at home. With pressure cookers now to make it easy, there really is no excuse to make your beans from scratch. Not only do you save money, but you can also completely control what goes into the beans by cooking them yourself.

Happy Frugal Friday! I'd love to hear your thoughts or ideas on how to save money. Have a great weekend.

This week I'll be linking to some of these link parties.


The Provision Room said...

RIGHT ON! We are pinning this for our readers!

(Stopping by from Frugal Thursdays at A Life In Balance!)

Robin Lewis said...

Definitely. They taste better too. And it makes way more sense to cook up a pound of beans than to open several cans.

Barb @ A Life in Balance said...

I love that you did the math! I used to price out the cost of my recipes, and then stopped.

I don't use the pressure cooker though I should try. I usually do a batch of dried beans and then freeze them in 1 and 2 cup quantities for meals and snacks.

Thanks for sharing your work at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

Chronically Single said...

Great post! You can also cook beans in a rice cooker!

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