Okay, in advance I warn you about the bean puns I will be making. In Heinz-site it wasn't a good idea. (come on, that was funny)
I love baked beans. Like I'm beginning to think it could be an issue. I feel they go well with any meal. People say 'once you pop you can't stop' with Pringles, but I feel this should apply to baked beans. And anyway, they are healthier. With your average 1/2 can of Heinz containing one of your 5-a-day and plenty of low salt and sugar varieties available, these don't have to be a one off treat. But for me, the skint student and avid money saver, I've bean (heehee) trying out the cheaper own brand varieties in an attempt to find one that can match the expense of Heinz or Branston (depending which team you are on...because everyone is loyal to a baked bean).
Now, there are two levels of supermarket bean...the value range and the supermarket own range, with only about 4p difference per can (28p and 32p respectively). This 4p does make a difference, and I would recommend splashing out, and treating yourself to those 32p beans. Crazy, I know. The reason for this is that the cheaper ones, in most of the places I tried (Tesco and Morrisons particularly) the beans were much harder. This can be reduced by cooking them longer but I just felt overall the supermarket range (especially Tesco) were nicer. In a blind taste test, I got interesting results (shout out to my parents who were guinea pigs for this blog, they've bean good to me). My mother is a die hard brandist, and her bean team is Branston. My dads is Heinz. You can imagine the family rift. I cooked up many a batch of baked beans and left them unlabeled for them to test. The winner? Asda own brand 32p beans, which my dad thought was Heinz. Result. It just goes to show that saving 43p per can tastes doubly good.
So now that I identified the best bean, it was time to get creative. The classic of beans on toast (with a little cheese and marmite personally) is a timeless food staple that reminds me of my childhood and now of student life. However I feel like this, along with the comforting baked tatty (potato for those non-Scots among us) are just the beginning. And so I introduce to you, my top 3 bean dishes:
1) Beans and Rice
This is such an awesome comfort food. I would like to point out that the lovely structure of my meal above didn't last. I quickly mixed it all up into a delicious mixture of rice beans and veg all happily living together (sorry for those of you who hate when different foods touch, this probably isn't the blog post for you). As you can see, another way I save money (and calories) is to bulk up your rice with peas and grated carrot, adding flavour and filling you up in the process. Anyway, back to the beans. This combination is one I love and is so super cheap. I use half a can of beans at a time, and put the other half in a sealed container in the fridge (just make sure you eat it up within a couple of days) tehrefore costing 16p per portion. This meal can be changed up even more by adding spices to the beans as they are cooking or, if like me you are team Marmite, some of that deliciousness. A definite love,
2) Beans and Pasta
Okay, I admit, this one took me a while to make as the idea of it just felt weird. Even now thinking about it, part of me isn't sure about it. But as I look at the notes I took when I ate it, apparently I liked it. The sauce just coats the pasta nicely and the beans add a nice stodge, perfect for the winter months, when comfort food is life. This also works really well if you get the beans that have sausages in them, although maybe not if you're on a health kick, which can also be found in the savers range. Alternatively, strips of ham accompany the beans really well.
3) Beans on Pizza
Growing up, we had shop bought pizza with beans once a week (the creatures of habit we are, every Monday night). This is a great way to save money rather than having the take away variety, and tend to be far healthier as you then go back and cook it in the oven rather than how they cook it in a pizza place. When I was walking round my local Tesco, I saw these mini pizzas (perfect for one person) for a mere £1.60. Not for one, for four. However, they came plain, so I decided to see if I could save money by buying cheap plain pizzas and jazzing them up with things I already had. By combining these two challenges, my bean pizza has ended up on this post. I found a pepper needing eaten up, some soft cheese and, of course, some beans. For this, I would recommend putting the beans in the center of the pizza so that they don't pour over the edges, and trying to get mainly beans without the sauce for the topping (that sauce will be lovely with the remainder of the beans as a side, trust me). Then put in the oven and cook for a couple more minutes than it says on the packet, just to make sure its all cooked through. The result reminds me of the cheesy beanos you used to get in school (anyone else remember these? Comment below if you do :)) and a combination I wish I had tried years before.
So there you have it, my 3 new favourite ways to eat baked beans, for only 16p a portion! If you have any thoughts or any unusual ways that you like baked beans, let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on Twitter @LaurieBeat :)