This blog isn’t just about tasty dishes, it is also about finding ways to not allow the food budget get out of control. It is about the small choices we make that make big impacts to our budget. But I will confess that those choices aren’t always easy. Committing to make home-made from scratch meals and bake home-made breads are time consuming and it can be very easy to just toss in the towel and buy pre-made ingredients especially ever since I had a baby. One of the biggest adjustments for me has been using dried beans instead of tins, not only is it more time consuming it has also been a big learning curve for me. But when I started wanting to cave into the temptation we hit a hard month financially. My husband was changing jobs and that meant that we would have a three week gap in between pay checks. I had the challenge of trying to feed the three of us on a budget of £70 ($110) for almost a month. It was a challenge and it took more creativity then I thought I had some days. But I succeeded, with the help of my pantry items. This was an extreme month and one that I wouldn’t mind not repeating but I felt so proud that I was able to do it.
I mentioned that dried beans have been my what I would call my Achilles heal. It never failed that I wouldn’t remember to soak the beans the night before and 9 out of 10 even though I followed the recipe the beans were still hard. One thing that I have done to help me is when I am meal planning and adding the plan to my Google calendar I add little reminders to alert me the day before the meal if I need to do something like soak beans. So far I have yet to have anything other then lentils cook properly when I followed a recipe that had them cook with a sauce. I am probably doing something wrong but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get it right. So I started to cook the beans separately and add them to the dish at a later stage and it has turned out perfect every time ever since. It also enables me to cook up a large batch and then store the cooked beans either for 3 days in an air tight container in the fridge or in the freezer for several months.
Chorizo Baked Beans
350g (2 c.) diced dry-cured Spanish chorizo
2 medium onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 L (4 c.) water
4 Tbsp no-salt-added tomato paste
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Cook for about 1- 1 1/2 hours; until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain well.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add chorizo; cook 4 minutes or until fat begins to render. Add onion and garlic; sauté 10 minutes or until tender.
Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are very tender and sauce is thick. Serve with Spicy Bacon and Cheese Cornmeal Muffins.