Meal Prep, side dish, Side Dishes, Where to Start

$0.15 Overnight Crockpot Black Beans

Meal prepping is all about finding quick ways to make large quantities of delicious food. Which makes this overnight black bean recipe the epitome of a great meal prep recipe! Just 5 minutes of touch time, some planning ahead (you are meal prepping after all…), and $0.15 worth of ingredients per serving and you’ll have created a healthy, versatile dish that pairs with just about any protein or vegetable you can think of!

Ingredients (~28 1/2-Cups Servings):

  • 2 lbs of dry black beans
  • 1 large white onion, sliced into rings
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4-6 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsp kosher salt

Tools:

  • 6-quart crockpot
  • Colander (bowl with a lot of holes in it)
  • Large plastic spoon
  • 10″ non-stick sauté pan (only for refrying beans)
  • Immersion blender (only for refrying beans)

Instructions:

  1. Put the dry black beans in the colander. Rinse and drain.
  2. Put the black beans in the crockpot. Fill the crockpot near the top with water (~ 5 cups of water per 1 lb of dry black beans)
  3. Remove the outer skin, then slice the onion into large rings and put them into the crockpot along with the whole, peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, and black pepper. (See picture in Tips section below!)
  4. Cook on low for around 13 hours or on high for 8 hours (aka overnight).
  5. Taste beans to ensure they are cooked to your liking, then turn off the crockpot and use the plastic spoon to scoop out the onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
  6. Stir in the salt to taste and cover the crockpot for 30 minutes prior to eating.
  7. Freeze half for next week’s meals and then enjoy the rest immediately or save for breakfast and/or meal prepped lunches OR make refried beans (15-minute recipe in the Tips Section)!

Total Time = Overnight (5 minutes of touch time)

Tips:

Step 1 – Some recipes recommend soaking the beans overnight and then draining the water to remove the gas-producing part of the beans. I’ve tried both and found soaking the beans overnight to be an extra unnecessary step. If you don’t eat beans often, regardless of how you cook them, initially they may make you gassier than normal. Your body will adjust to your change in diet quickly though, and within a week or two you won’t even be thinking about it!

Step 3 – This is an example of how the crockpot looks before I turn it on. For the onion, stand it up on its side and make 4 cuts – 2 for the ends, 2 in the middle. Watch your fingers!

black-beans-pre-crockpot.jpg

Step 4 – Check the water level of the beans after they’ve been cooking for a couple hours or right when you wake up. Dry beans will absorb water while cooking and if they peek out above the water, they will get crunchy. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the consistency I’m going for. If the water level close to the level of the beans, you can always add more water.

That being said, using a 1 lb of dry beans to 5 cups of water ratio, I have not had to add any water while cooking.

Step 5- This is an example of how the crockpot looks when the beans are done prior to discarding the onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Why throw these out you ask? For this recipe, these are aromatics, meaning ingredients only used to provide flavor, not to be eaten – like a candle, except for food. One look at a soggy, ring of slow-cooked onion and you’ll be happy to toss it:

Black Beans Post Crockpot

Step 6 – The jury is still out on this one too! Some recipes say only at the end, some recipes say anytime. Who knew there was so much controversy over beans! In my experience, I’ve gotten less-mushy, more flavorful beans by salting them at the end!

Step 7 – Refried Beans (BONUS RECIPE):

You just made a lot of beans. Even after freezing half, it’s been 4-5 days and you’re worried you won’t be able to eat the rest before they go bad. And that would be a tragedy – they taste so darn good! Never fear, you’re 15 minutes away from refried beans!

  • Use the immersion blender to blend the beans and water/bean juice into one consistent mixture:

Refried Black Beans - Immersion Blender

  • Pour the blended mixture into a sauté pan and then set the burner to medium heat.
  • Adjust heat so that the beans are simmering and stir every couple minutes until most of the water is cooked out of the beans.
  • About 15 minutes later, they’ll look something like this:

Refried Black Beans in Pan

Cost:

  • 2 lbs of dry black beans ~ $3
  • 1 large white onion, sliced into rings ~ $0.75
  • 4-6 whole garlic cloves ~ $0.25
  • Spices (salt, black pepper, bay leaves) ~ $0.25

Total cost per 2lb of slow cooker black beans ~ $4.25

Cost per serving (~28 1/2-cup servings) ~ $0.15

Conclusion:

No more canned beans for you! It’s incredible what a difference it makes from a taste perspective to compare home-cooked black beans to canned black beans. And there’s also the fact that it’s cheaper to make them yourself. Better taste for less cost, that sounds like a no-brainer to me! Plus, these amazing beans you’ve just created don’t have to be exclusively for meal prepping either, I often mix them in with my breakfast to create incredible dishes like the one below (link to home-roasted macchiato recipe)!

As always, make informed food decisions. Know your ingredients, know your costs!

Black Bean Breakfast

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