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Cooking on a Budget


Source:  Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

There are two steps to cooking beans: soaking and cooking:

  • Soaking beans allows the dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. While beans are soaking they are also double to tripling in their size.
  • Cooking the beans makes them edible and digestible.

Soaking Beans

(Note: Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked.)

Pick through the beans, discarding any discolored or shriveled beans or any foreign matter. Rinse well.

While the traditional slow soak method takes longer than some methods, it is one of the easiest methods:

  1. In a stockpot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water.
  2. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans.

Cooking Beans

  1. Return the soaked, rinsed beans to the stockpot. Cover the beans with 3 times their volume of water. Add herbs or spices (not salt), as desired.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender (the time will depend on the type of bean, but start checking after 45-60 minutes). Boiling beans will break the skins and leave you with a mushy meal. Add more water if the beans are not covered. Most beans will cook in about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

  3. Adding ham hocks, cubed ham, or bacon during step two can really add flavor to your beans.

Bean Cooking Tips

Do not add salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, this will slow the cooking process. Instead, add these ingredients when the beans are just tender.

Cooking times vary with the types of beans used but also may vary with their age.

Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Always test a few beans in case they have not cooked evenly

Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding

Toasting give the delicate bread a firmer texture, so the milk and eggs don't make it mushy. You can also use toasted French bread cubes, but the slight sweetness of the Hawaiian bread brings out the salty ham and nutty cheese flavors. Use the remaining rolls to make mini ham and cheese sandwiches.  Yield: 4 servings

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4  cups  chopped green onions
  • 3/4  cup  chopped ham (about 3 ounces)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 7  (1-ounce) Hawaiian bread rolls, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4  cups  fat-free milk
  • 3/4  cup  egg substitute
  • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg

Nutritional Information:Calories: 353 (30% from fat),Fat: 11.9g (sat 5.7g,mono 3.9g,poly 1.1g), Protein:23.9g, Carbohydrate:35.9g, Fiber:1.4g, Cholesterol:50mg, Iron: 2.9mg, Sodium: 993mg, Calcium: 384mg

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