Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Gabriella celebrates beans, the cheap chef's best friend.
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From lentil to pinto, cannellini to chickpea, beans are variable and versatile, delicious hot or cold. They're reliably hearty in soups and they shine in salads. Combine them with a grain and you've got an instant nutritional powerhouse on your plate. And of course, they're so darn cheap.
Most of the time I go for canned; patience has never been my strong suit. But beans are cheapest when they're bought dry: a pound will cost you two dollars, yield 8 cups cooked, and last you through at least as many meals. If you're worried about how to cook them, don't be -- we've got your back with this step-by-step guide.
Some of my favorite ways to enjoy beans are decidedly non-recipes. I'll toss cannelini beans with chopped red onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, or I'll mix chickpeas with olive oil and whatever spice I'm in the mood for and bake them in the oven until crispy. That's not to say they can't get dressed up, though -- try them in these discreetly frugal dishes:
Tell us: what are your favorite ways to eat beans?
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).