Monday, 21 November 2011

Money Saving Recipes, It's Frugal Gourmet...

Beans on Toast With a Difference!

This may not be your idea of a gourmet meal but it is frugal, tasty and nutritious.

With the price of a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce creeping up and up, I decided it was time to get to grips with making my own. I already bake all the bread for the household, so why not make what goes over the top of it when it's toasted? Cheap baked beans are becoming tasteless, bland and uninteresting!

This was a bit of an experiment, as I was too lazy to search out a recipe for the sauce, but it worked. In fact, it worked so well that we had eaten our tasty lunch before I even remembered that I should have taken a photograph for the recipe blog! I'll try to remember next time.

Dried Cannellini beans had been on offer at 49p per 500g pack, so, when the opportuity arose, I 'invested' in 4 packs. As dried foods go, this type of foodstuff lasts a long, long time, so 'sell by' and 'best before' dates can pretty much be ignored.

I soaked a cupful of the dried beans overnight in cold water, then rinsed them off in the morning before setting them to boil rapidly in a pan of water for about 10 minutes. (Do not salt the water, as this is said to toughen the bean skins as they cook.)

After boiling them, reduce the heat and simmer for around an hour and a half. Had I been making a larger quantity, I would probably transfer them into the slow cooker and simmer them that way, but I find there's little or no difference in price of electricity used when comparing cooker-top simmering to slow cooking, especially when using small quantites.

Once cooked, drain and rinse the beans then set them aside while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, I cheated. I had jars of cheap pasta sauce in stock (cheaper than tinned chopped tomatoes), so I used the following to make the sauce:

100g of cannellini beans (9.8p)
1/2 jar Sainsbury's Basic pasta sauce (9p)
tablespoon of tomato puree (4.5p)
teaspoon of sugar (4.4p)
1/2 teaspoon salt (0.2p)

Total cost - 27.9p

All of the above were mixed together - sample the sauce so you can make any adjustments to flavour, then add the beans.

The above was left to cool then refrigerated overnight, as we didn't need them on the day. This, afterall, was just an experiment on a small scale.

Today we had toast with the beans topped with grated cheese (50g cheddar cheese - 28.4p) and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I do realise that for many it is easy to just nip to the nearest supermarket and pay around the same price for store's own basic brand of baked beans, but when you live 20 miles from the nearest supermarket and follow the code of frugal living, popping to the shop isn't an option. To be honest, I think the homemade variety tasted much nicer than any shop-bought baked beans I've ever bought.

I can recommend Frugaldom beans to anyone. The herbs from the jar of pasta sauce added that extra flavour and, I'm guessing, also added a couple more vitamins to the mix. It's probably what turned the Frugaldom version of beans on toast into a frugal gourmet lunch for two.

NYK Media


  1. Sounds delicious. A good way for me to use some of my own homemade pasta sauces up too. I'll give it a go.

    Sue xx

  2. Sounds lovely and it will make me have a go at doing this- one of the things i haven't got around to unfortunately. I make pea soup but not the beans. :(

  3. They sound good!

    If you go in a 'proper' supermarket like where the pasta sauce came from, and buy their 'own' brand of beans. You will find they are much better than the cut price supermarkets brands. I would never go for cheap brown sauce though. Do you know how to make HP (Houses of Parliament) sauce? They make it in the Netherlands these days.

  4. I think this is a great idea. To save on electricity, you could cook the whole packet of dried beans, bulk up to the correct amount of sauce, then portion and freeze after steeping overnight to let the flavour develop. You could take out a portion in the morning or microwave it at a push (if you have one):)

  5. Data, I can confirm that these don't explode in the microwave. Or perhaps it's safer to say that this particular batch didn't explode. Next lot will be bulk cooked and I'll let you know how well they freeze/defrost. :)

    Gillibob, making the pea soup is a good start, I've only just got around to trying to make the frugal baked beans alternative.

    Sue, once we're organised and have the garden prepared for growing our own tomatoes, I'll maybe give your sauce recipe to try.

    Dave, I was talking about supermarkets like Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's etc, never gave Aldi, Lidl or the likes a thought. Everywhere must be around the same price now, but a tin of baked beans here costs about 75p from the shop. Brown sauce in Frugaldom is of the cheap and cheerful variety, costs less for me to buy by the litre than to make. :)

  6. I'll definitely give this one a go!

  7. Went bean pricing yesterday. All prices in Euro's:

    'Nice Price' = 25 cents.

    Bachelors = 85 cents.

    Super Value = 69 cents.

    Heinz (57 different varieties)= 98 cents.

    Conclusion: Food prices are not getting any cheaper!


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