Unapologetically Cheap

by Katy on January 28, 2013 · 24 comments

I know people like the word frugal better than cheap, and I usually try to avoid the “C” word in my writing. But there’s no escaping that I am one cheap chica.

What makes this Frugal vs. Cheap dichotomy come to mind?

Canned vs. cooked beans.

Last week was pretty busy at our house, and our dinners ended up as pretty simple affairs. However, this did not result in take-out meals, nor did it mean that I relaxed my spending. I did try though.

I had decided to make burritos for dinner, and since I was out and about, I stopped into New Season’s Market to pick up a can of refried beans. But the beans were priced at $2.79! Yes, they were organic and most likely harvested by well treated PhD candidates, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. It was too late in the day to cook pinto beans in the slow cooker, (my preferred method) so I went home and cooked smaller (and already purchased) black beans on the stovetop and whattayaknow, they were fully cooked by dinnertime.

And I loved the burritos all the better for their cheap-ness.

I’m here, I’m cheap, get used to it!

Update: I had enough black beans leftover for burritos on Saturday and a big pot of black bean chili for tonight! (With the addition of a 1/3 pound of nice bulk sausage.)

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Christa January 28, 2013 at 9:33 am

I can totally understand that! I usually prefer to pay under a dollar a can. If I really have my act together I make a huge batch of dry beans in the crock pot and freeze them in meal size portions.


Sweta January 28, 2013 at 9:44 am

I still consider that frugal. No one should ever pay $2.79 for canned beans, imo.


Jen January 28, 2013 at 9:50 am

Thanks to you I have started cooking my own beans in the crockpot. I put the extra in the freezer where currently there are cannellini, pinto and black beans waiting for a need to arise. It’s hard to even pay .99 for a can of beans when I can get a pound of dry ones for a dollar which ends up equaling about 5 cans.
And with all the hooha about BPA lining in cans, I’m happy to eat less canned food, too.


Susan January 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

I realize this isn’t the case with your scenario, but I caution people not to get TOO caught up in this kind of thing. Sometimes it makes sense to just buy the darn can of beans, even if the price is outside your threshold. You are still saving money by a) not eating out or ordering in, and b) preparing a meatless meal. Also, you mentioned stopping in at the market, so I assume it was on your way. It would be a HUGE mistake in my book to walk away beanless after making a special trip or going out of your way.


Katy January 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

The store is two blocks from the house, and I was out walking with my father. I didn’t drive, and it took no more than four minutes of my time.

I agree about spending hours to save 50¢ though. Not a good use of my energy.



Cheapchick January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am

I used to buy my blackbeans in cans but they are just too costly. I just started buying dry beans and it is WAY cheaper! My next batch of chili will be all dried beans.


Auntie Karen January 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

And just think of all the sodium you were able to avoid by eschewing the canned variety!


A. Marie January 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm

A similar but non-bean-related incident: My local newspaper just ran a giveaway for a roll of bamboo paper towels (which can supposedly be washed and reused). It occurred to me that my extensive collection of household rags serves exactly the same purpose, can be washed and reused more often than the paper towels can, and doesn’t require new manufacturing. Chalk up the time it would have taken me to enter the giveaway, plus the time and gas it would have taken me to collect the paper towels if I’d won. Cheap–and environmentally friendly!


Katy January 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Two words — “Green” and “Washing.”



Linda in Indiana January 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Sometimes it just feels so “wrong” when you see the price on things and decide to walk away. Then I get creative and come up with “cheaper” ways. If that is cheap, then I am cheap and proud of it.
There is this little voice inside all of us that will guide us when spending. If we will just listen, it will save tons of money. Oh no! I guess I just admitted I am hearing voices…Ha!


One Day At A Time January 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

My dry beans from Rancho Gordo can beat the pants off any canned bean!


Tina January 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Homemade refried beans store well in the freezer. I agree the price of canned beans can be insane.


Theresa Maile January 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I just went grocery shopping with my husband and I think he was a bit frustrated when I did not want to buy canned soup. He then suggested a soup started and I reminded him that we make our own chicken broth every week. We did buy canned vegetables since we keep hearing about the price of groceries increasing and the cost was 79 cents each. I am cheap whenever and wherever possible, and proud of it!!


lisa January 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Interesting how word choice works from person to person. To me, “cheap” connotes a shortsighted stinginess that pays attention ONLY to price and not to benefit. So, if you had gone with the black beans because of their cost, despite the fact that, say, your entire family loathed black beans, that would be “cheap” in my book. What you did was *sensible.* ($2.79 for 15 oz of refried beans????)

But that’s just my nomenclature. If it fits, you wear that cheap mantle with pride, my friend!


erinkg January 28, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I hate buying canned beans, although I do it on occasion, usually due to laziness. Instead, I use my pressure cooker to cook dried beans in less than an hour. I love pressure cookers and slow cookers. 🙂


Katy January 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I had a pressure cooker for years and until I cooked it dry and sprayed the ceiling with beans and bowed out the bottom of the pan.

Oops . . . 😉



watermelonpunch January 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm

OOh, on this topic, I’ve been looking for a good recommended source for various bean recipes and basically, a learners guide for beans! (I’m clueless about beans!)
If anyone has any recommendations it would be appreciated!!


Kat January 29, 2013 at 9:53 am

I’m a newbie, too (but not for long!) on dried bean cooking. I saw an informative string of comments on Facebook… Northwest Edible Life, 1/12/13 post. Comments respond to this cool post: “Here is the trick to cooking the best dry beans. Soak overnight, drain, then simmer gently (don’t boil) with a big, big glug of olive oil and a generous shower of salt…beans need salt. Throw in a clove of garlic and maybe a sprig of thyme if they are handy. Perfect creamy-textured beans. And no, the salt does not toughen them.”


watermelonpunch January 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Thanks! That’s a good thread. What I found of interest was that someone said they hadn’t realized to put salt in the beans at the start of cooking, because they knew they were supposed to add salt at the end.
For most things, it’s best to add salt after the cooking process has finished, right before serving, for the best effect.
BUT apparently this is NOT the case for many ways of cooking potatoes, and some other tubular kind of vegetables, and now I see that it’s also true of beans! VERY good to know.


emmer January 29, 2013 at 8:29 am

and canned beans may have bpa in the liner. if the liner is wite, it likely does. the thin clear or slightly yellow translucent liners are polyester.
organic beans have a hard row to hoe, as it were. bugs love them.they can’t be automatically sprayed–the hand labor to do the checking adds up. and,, here’s a big one–they can’t be sprayed after harvest–you did know that most products like grains and legumes are fumigated after harvest. so, better storage for organic means more labor for organic.
in any case, we freeze all grains and legumes that come in the house for a couple weeks and then we put them in smaller containers to confine any potential infestation.
when i make a pot of beans, i put them in pint and quart canning jars, mark the tops “navy” or “pinto” or whatever, and freeze. i can thaw and quickly make a dinner and avoidall thos potential problems.


Belleln January 29, 2013 at 8:50 am

Cheap, frugal, sensible or, my favorite, resourceful. Which ever you choose make it your own. Personally, I’m the one who eats beans, hubby doesn’t, so I buy canned at less than a $1 and it lasts me for 3 meals.


patti January 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I know your feeling … I went to the store the other day to buy some baking potatoes to make a special meal for my husband and me (steak, baked potatoes, salad, broccoli). I decided to throw caution to the wind and buy some crusty dinner rolls. Stopped off at the bakery section and they were $3.99 for six. Decided to go to the frozen section where they were $3.99 for 8. I knew I could make them (another night when I had time) for about $.40 for 24 so I just could not bring myself to pay for the store bought ones. Alas, we never even missed them!!


Sara January 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Home cooked beans are infinitely better than canned ones! I recently made the connection that the digestive issues that most people get from beans are actually from the can, not the bean, and when I make them from scratch and change the soaking water its all good. (Same goes for canned tomatoes) The problem is the amount of fuel it takes to cook the suckers with out a pressure cooker. The solution for me… Cook them on the wood stove!

For those of us lucky enough to heat with wood, the old fashioned way, our cooking fuel needs can be zero, since in the winter we need to heat the house anyways. For those of you who have been mislead to think that burning wood is bad for the environment, think again. Actually, the carbon released in the smoke is exactly the carbon dioxide that the tree took out of the air in its life. If that same wood was left to compost, it would have slow released that exact same amount of carbon anyways, though over a longer period of time. The key is to make sure that any wood (or anything for that matter) you buy is from a sustainable source. Win one for old school homesteading!


Monica January 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

I make burritos with 1 can drained black beans, 2 cups frozen corn, 2 cups shredded cheese and 1.5 cups of shredded leftover pork or chicken. Makes 8 large burritos. Love how the different flavors and textures present in the final product– no mush. Quick and easy weeknight meal for a working mom to prepare!


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