You’ll see here at PHC (and in most food storage plans) the advice to make beans a central part of your long-term food storage. Why? Here are four good reasons you should make beans an important part of your food storage.
They store forever
Properly stored (that is, away from heat, moisture, oxygen and bugs) beans can store for decades without losing their flavor. Of course, all food begins losing nutrition the day its picked, but beans retain almost all of their nutrition for several years. And, if stored right, will taste great for years to come.
Just store your clean beans in a tightly sealed container (such as a food-safe 5-gallon bucket) with oxygen absorbing packets. If you are using your beans routinely in your family’s meals (and why wouldn’t you?) you can close each bucket with an easy-off-easy-on Gamma Seal to ensure the container is still air- and water-tight.
More bang for your buck.
You get more calories and more nutrition per dollar spent on beans than just about any other food. Even at $1/lb, beans are still the cheapest form of protein. And this protein doesn’t have the environmental impact that meat does, nor does it have any hormones, cholesterol, or other health baggage that comes with eating meat.
Small bean, huge nutrition
This is where beans really shine. Beans pack a lot of nutrition into a small package. When combined with another grain, you have a complete protein–that is protein that contains all the essential amino acids.
Think about it: nearly every culture on earth has a legume/grain combination that is staple to their diet. The Indians have kachidi and dahl that are served with rice. The Carribean is known for their spicy black or red beans and rice. Mexican cuisine combines corn tortillas with beans. We see a combinations of pasta and beans in Italian minestrone or pasta e fagioli and in eastern Europe it’s Pašta Fažol. And of course, here in the US, every one loves their PB&J. All of these meat-free combinations give you a complete protein.
But the nutrition doesn’t stop here. For just 245 calories, a serving of beans is a significant source of iron, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Folate. Folate is the natural form of folic acid, which is an vital nutrient during pregnancy. A deficiency in Folate can lead to neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Since this defect occurs in the first few weeks after conception, women who may or want to become pregnant should have plenty of Folate in their diet before planning pregnancy.
And for fiber, nothing beats beans. A serving of beans provides 15-19 grams of dietary fiber, the good kind of fiber that helps regulate sugar absorption (thus helping to prevent Type 2 or adult onset diabetes) and can help prevent certain kinds of cancer (like colon cancer.)
Try finding that kind of nutrition in any of your other favorite foods.
Enjoy a wide variety of flavors
When we talk about beans, we’re talking about all the dried sees in the legume family. This includes lentils, chickpeas (garbanzos) as well as pinto, black, navy, cranberry, pink, cannellini, adzuki and mung beans. And that’s just a small sampling. There are, quite literally, dozens of varieties of dried beans, each with its own unique color, texture and flavor.
And then look at all the recipes! There are at least a thousand different ways to prepare beans. And not just soups and stews either. Beans can be used in salads, dips, breads and desserts. If you start exploring the ways beans are used in other cultures, you will walk into a whole new world of deliciousness. If you store a variety of beans, there is no end to the different dishes you can make.