Posted on December 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

“Hummus is delicious, but have you seen how much it costs? Even on sale it’s kinda pricy!”

How many times have you had that kind of conversation, or versions thereof? Let’s look at a different way to sate your hummus addiction!

Let’s start with Alton Brown’s recipe. I have made this many times and it is a great place to start.

1 pound cooked Chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
(I add around 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon of ground cumin as well)

Time to take the recipe apart and see how we can make this more frugally.

1 pound cooked Chickpeas
This would be a can of cooked chickpeas, or about 1/3 of a packet of dried chickpeas you have cooked yourself. Take a moment to consider what I just wrote: the amount of actual chickpea you get in a can is about 1/3 of a pound, the rest of the weight is water.

1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
Tahini is a sesame seed paste. It usually runs around $4 a pound where I am. You’re only using a smallish amount, but still, it’s pricy.

5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Yeah, I just use the stuff from a plastic container. I don’t usually have the budget to buy fresh lemons through the year!

So, how can we make this more frugally?

I always look at dried legumes going on sale or other silly price. I have managed to find dried chickpeas as low as $1 for a pound, more usually around $1.19, so let’s work on $1.20 as the price. Read again what I wrote up there about what weight of dried chickpeas equate to your 15oz can.

What quantity of cooked chickpeas do you get from 1lb dry weight? And isn’t it a huge hassle to make them – all that soaking, waiting, etc?

In reverse order, cooking them couldn’t be easier. Forget everything you’ve read about how to cook dried beans – I opened the packet, tossed them into my pressure cooker, rinsed, then added enough water to cover them about 4 times over (I just eyeballed the volume, it was roughly 4 times). Slam the lid on the cooker, pop the weight on, apply the heat and pressure cook for about 45 minutes or so. Take the cooker off the heat and let it cool down naturally. There you go, cooked chickpeas in less than 2 hours. I drained the chickpeas and weighed them. 2lb 12oz cooked weight, an almost 3 fold weight increase.

What about the tahini?
Peanut butter is a 1:1 replacement for tahini. I pay around $2.29 for 40oz from Aldi. I tried this recipe out on someone who doesn’t like peanut butter flavoured things and they couldn’t tell it was made with PB.

Cost to do it yourself
1/3 lb dried chickpeas – about 40 cents
1/3 cup peanut butter, approximately 3oz – about 17 cents
all the rest of the ingredients together – about 60 cents
Olive oil – I just make it with the regular stuff and save the extra virgin for salads

Total cost: let’s round it up and include a cost for the cooking of the chickpeas and running the food processor and call it about $1.30, or around half the cost of hummus when it is on Buy One Get One sale at your grocery store.

By the way, as I cooked the whole 1lb packet of chickpeas I just rounded everything up and called it a 3 fold increase. 4lbs 9oz of home made hummus for under $4. How do I serve it? With stale bread or carrot sticks. Or off a spoon, for that matter!

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Sweet potato and chickpea curry

Posted on September 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

2 medium red onions, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 bird’s eye pepper, Thai chili or other very hot small pepper with its seeds
1 2 ½ to 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed or 1 tsp ground cardamom
Salt to taste
2 pounds (about 3 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ to 1 inch cubes (I am a scrub and chop skin-on kind of guy)
1 ¾ cups coconut milk (one can)
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 ¼ cups hot vegetable broth
4 to 5 cups (about 4 cans) cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

1. In a food processor, combine onions, garlic hot pepper and ginger. Pulse until finely chopped. Place oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add chopped onion mixture and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add hot pepper flakes and spices. Stir to mix. Add sweet potatoes and stir until well covered in spices. Stir in coconut milk.
3. Dissolve tamarind paste in hot broth and add to pan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 25 minutes
4. Add chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Adjust salt to taste. Serve over rice.

Note on spiciness: this dish comes out medium hot to hot in terms of spice. You can swap out the bird peppers for jalapenos, or even omit the added chilli altogether if you want to make it more to the medium spice. You can also add sour cream or yoghurt to the dish to reduce the heat.

The chickpeas are rich in many trace minerals your body needs. The sweet potatoes are ridiculously good for you from the perspective of fibre, minerals, vitamins, etc. This recipe is also trivially easy to double in size if you need to serve a large group, or just want lots of leftovers. It also tastes awesome.

Buying everything in the store (the no other option way)
2lb sweet potatoes at 99c/lb (I often get them for half that price)
onions – about 50c
chickpeas – $1.19 a can
coconut milk – $1.39 to $2.39 a can
vegetable broth – tends to be around 79c a quart
spices, ginger, etc – about $1
Total store cost: around $10.50

Doing it the Addicted To Canning way
sweet potatoes – $2
chickpeas – 2 pints – 50c
onions – 50c
coconut milk bought from ethnic stores – $1.09
spices, ginger, etc – about $1
vegetable broth – made from leftovers, so basically 0c
Total AtC cost: around $5.09

Just by canning your own chickpeas and vegetable stock, you can more than halve the cost of the dish.

The cost per serving of this ridiculously good for you dish, based on 6 to 8 servings:
STORE BOUGHT – $1.32 to $1.75 per serving
AtC WAY: $0.64 to $0.85 per serving

It’s cheap, healthy, vegan, tastes awesome, and if you serve it over basmati rice it is complete protein.

What more can I say?

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What to do with canned beans?

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

So, you’ve been following along with me while I have canned a whole load of different beans. Great! Now you have about 16 pint jars of beans! What do you do with them now?!?

Well, apart from the amazingly awesome vegan bean burgers, how about hummus! No, this isn’t your tired old blah store bought hummus. This is a culinary superhero, packed with vitamins, protein, fibre, and most importantly – FLAVOUR. If you eat hummus with a grain it also forms complete protein – so make your favourite bread and scoop it.

2 pint jars of home canned chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water then process for another 20 seconds. Add the tahini, buzz it hard, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

If you don’t have tahini you can use peanut butter instead – you may lose out on one of the essential amino acids, but it’ll still taste great and be really good for you.
If you have gluten problems, you can use corn tortillas or other substitutes for bread. I prefer to use raw carrots or other veggies instead of bread.

If you don’t have, or don’t like chickpeas, you can use any other legume – our local has an amazing black eyed pea hummus.
Add in a 1/2 inch / 1.25cm length of raw horseradish to make it fiery. You could also add a chili pepper or some raw ginger.

A one pound packet of dried chickpeas produces 4 pint jars. Add in the costs of production, let’s call it 29cents per jar.
Tahini at my local store was $3.99 a jar. Using 1/3 cup per batch, that’s 73cents per batch.
I always have big bottles of lemon juice to hand – while it’s worth it to use freshly squeezed if you can, that’s not always practical, so I’ll use the cost of the bottled stuff. Call it 2cents. The rest of the ingredients add another couple of cents to the cost, so let’s call the lemon juice and seasonings 5cents.
So, two pints of home made hummus for about $1.07. One pint gets eaten, the other gets frozen for later consumption. I call that a win.

Original recipe courtesy Alton Brown. He’s an amazing guy.

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Easy canning dried beans

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

Canning dry beans can seem like a real pain. The rinsing, sorting, soaking overnight, changing the water rigmarole. There’s the “quick cook” method – boil for 2 minutes, soak in the hot boil water for 1 hour, drain, fresh water, bring back to a boil – pfft, what a pain!

So here’s the super easy way to do it!

Put your pint jars into your pressure canner with hot tap water to the appropriate fill line. Start heating the water with the jars in it. Put your electric kettle on to boil. If you don’t have an electric kettle – why not?!? – boil the water in a pan instead.

Rinse and sort the beans. Put 1/2 to 2/3 cup of rinsed sorted beans in each pint jar, producing an approximate yield of 4 to 5 pint jars from each pound weight of dry beans. Pour in boiling water to 1/2 inch of the top (just about where the screw threads start).

Cap your jars and process at the appropriate pressure for your altitude for 90 minutes. Follow the usual steps for pressure reduction and cooling as specified in your pressure canner user manual.

There you go! Between four and 10 pint jars of pressure canned/cooked beans in about 100 minutes, more or less, ready and waiting for you to deploy them in all sorts of interesting manners.

The beans I canned this way were chickpeas(garbanzo) and pinto beans… you’ll see why later this week.

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Deliciously cheap burgers

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 8:18 am

So, not that you have some canned beans, what are you going to make with them?

How about bean burgers? Laughably cheap and really easy? Of course!


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked beans (any variety), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or whatever other seed or nut you fancy, chopped to sunflower seed size
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot or other vegetable
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other grain
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • breadcrumbs or wheat germ for dredging
  • Optional seasonings: 1/4 teaspoon thyme, rosemary; 1 teaspoon chili powder; 1/2 teaspoon cumin; black pepper; hot sauce; garlic salt
  • optional: 1 tablespoon milled flax seed
  • Mash up the beans as best you can with a large spoon against the side of the bowl. Use a food processor if you like, but the beans you canned should be fairly soft and squishy already.

    Mix all other ingredients except the breadcrumbs into the mashed beans. Add any of the seasonings you want – I put in a couple of hefty splashes of Tabasco(R) sauce, a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, and some garlic salt.

    The mix should be very sticky – if it’s watery add some more oatmeal, if it’s crumbly add some more liquid. Try the mix to see if it needs any more seasoning.

    Shape the mix into patties. I got about 8 large patties out of my mix, but the quantity will vary depending on how you shape the patty. Coat the patties with the bread crumbs or wheat germ and let them sit for a while for the crumbs to adhere properly to the surface of the burger – 5 to 10 minutes or so.

    Heat up your frying pan with a little oil in it – olive or sunflower will add lots of healthy fats to the burgers.

    Fry on both sides till Golden Brown and Delicious – it’ll take 3-4 minutes per side.
    Serve as you would any other burger!

    Health benefits: as well as all the benefits from the beans, the oatmeal and brown rice have lots of fibre as well as trace minerals and nutrients. The seeds and nuts add more of the essential amino acids, minerals and nutrients our bodies need. Flax seeds add omega-3 essential fatty acids.

    Cost estimate: 25c for a pint jar of beans (because you made them yourself, right?); the sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or whatever other seed or nut will vary, but let’s say about 10c. The onion, carrot, or whatever other veggie will come to about 10c. The other seasonings, rice, etc – let’s say about 25c. Throw in another 25c for things I am uncertain how much they cost at the teaspoon-out-of-a-jar-that-cost-a-dollar.

    About 95 cents for 8 large, healthy, low fat burgers that taste amazing (take it from this carnivore, they are DELICIOUS), are packed with dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins, and more protein than you can shake a stick at? What are you waiting for – make some today!

    With thanks to the lovely and talented Hilah for the recipe (warning: some adult language).

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    Pressure canning – beans

    Posted on April 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Beans are a powerful ally in living frugally. They have the best “bang for the buck” in terms of nutritional return for money: insoluble and soluble fiber, high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron. Once you get a stockpile of dried and canned beans in your pantry you are opening up new vistas of frugal, healthy, and stupidly cheap food.

    Start with 2lbs of dry beans – any type, any combination. I started with 1lb of dried black beans and 1lb of dried kidney beans. Sort through the dried beans discarding any that are broken or that are stones masquerading as beans. Wash them in lots of cold water and place them in a large pot with enough water to cover them by 1 inch / 2.5cm. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Allow the beans to stand for 1 hour in the hot water.

    You now have a choice: discard, or don’t discard, the water. Many recipes recommend discarding the water and starting again with fresh as this reduces the amount of oligosaccharides, which are responsible for the… fragrant!… reputation that beans have. The water also contains trace minerals and nutrients, so I leave it up to you to decide which is more important for you.

    Two pounds of dried beans will yield you between 6 and 10 pint jars of ready-to-use beans, depending on which ones you go for. The black/kidney bean mix I did yielded 8 pint jars, at a cost per jar of 25 cents. Most of the cans in the stores are done by weight rather than volume, but they probably contain about 1.5 cups of cooked beans, usually at around 50 cents to over a dollar in price.

    Put the squeeze on those bad boys for 75 minutes per pint jar, 90 minutes per quart jar. The National Center For Home Food Preservation is an absolutely essential reference for those of you above 1000ft.

    Beans. Full of nutrition. Good for you in multiple different ways. Work well with vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore cuisine. Laughably cheap and stupidly easy to prepare. What more do you need to know?

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    Red beans and rice

    Posted on December 9, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    So you have taken care of your leftovers in a frugal manner and are looking for a dish which can soak them up and turn into something really tasty as well as being laughably cheap?

    Red beans and rice! A Creole favourite, it uses simple basic ingredients which you should already have in your pantry and soaks up leftovers like nobody’s business. You can also toss everything into the slow cooker and come home to a wonderfully fragrant house with dinner ready and waiting for you.

    1 pound dry red kidney beans
    3 qts water or stock*
    1 pound diced cooked ham, bacon, or sausage*
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup Worcester sauce*
    1 teaspoon garlic salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    3 bay leaves
    hot cooked rice

    Wash and sort the beans, discarding any that are broken. Combine beans and water in a large Dutch oven and cook for 40 minutes.
    Add the next 8 ingredients, cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 hours. Bring to a boil, uncover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer uncovered until desired level of thickness is reached. Discard bay leaves and serve over rice. You can also do what I do and toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker and let it rip all day!

    * Vegan/vegetarian alternative: swap out about 1/4 cup of the beans for 1/4 cup of black turtle beans, add about a cup of coarsely chopped dried mushrooms and soy sauce to taste.

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