Why You Should Be Stocking Your Pantry with Beans

Monday, February 5, 2024

by Tiffany Vo, Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student, UGA Dining Nutrition Clerical

A photagraph of a variety of beans sorted into large, open bags

Do Your Wallet a Favor and Say Hello to Beans

If you’ve stepped foot into a grocery store recently, chances are you’ve noticed that your purchases have gotten pricier. The prices of groceries are historically high, and according to the USDA, they are expected to increase by 2.9% in 2024. Of these increases, the prices of animal protein, such as beef and chicken, are projected to rise anywhere between 3.4 to 4.6%. 

As groceries become increasingly expensive, consider replacing some of your meat consumption with beans.

Beans are often overlooked due to their reputation of only being used in dishes like chilis and soups. In reality, they are an inexpensive and versatile source of many nutrients. While beans are also likely to increase in price, they remain a largely more affordable alternative to meat. 

For example, a generic 15.5 oz can of black beans may cost $0.79, while a 16 oz package of chicken breast can cost you $3.99. While meat has more protein, beans are lower in fat and higher in fiber. By replacing some of your meat consumption with beans, you can diversify your diet, consume a wider variety of nutrients, and save yourself some money.

Small Yet Powerful

Beans are a nutrient-dense food containing protein, fiber, and micronutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and folate. While the amounts of nutrients may vary based on the variety of beans, overall bean consumption has been linked to increased feelings of satiety, better blood sugar management, improved lipid levels, and enhanced digestion.

Dietary fiber in beans may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides—which may help reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, beans have antioxidants that help reduce oxidative damage to the body and contain oligosaccharides and resistant starch that serve as prebiotics used in the gut.

Where Can You Find Beans in the Dining Commons?

You can find many delicious dishes featuring beans in the dining halls. Next time you’re dining on campus, add garbanzo beans to your salad, bean chili to your rice or rolls, or black beans to your tacos or burritos. Try our layered Mexican bean dip, Cajun kidney bean hummus, or Moroccan bean stew! 

Keep an eye out for beans at:

  • Bolton: Classic Cuisine, Hickory & Oak, Salad Bar, Soup Du Jour, and Taqueria
  • O-House: Chef’s Choice, O’Hacienda, Salad Bar, and Veggie Harvest
  • Snelling: Mainline Ladle & Loaf, Salad Bar, and The Bowl
  • Village Summit: Headliners, Salad Bar, Summit Cold Bar, and Soups & Potato Bar

To find out where and when beans will be served daily, check out our menu on Build Your Plate!

Tips for Eating Beans at Home

Beans don’t have to be boring! While bean chilis and soups are delicious, you can be creative and use beans in other ways. Here are my tips for using beans in your kitchen—coming from an avid bean eater:

  1. Canned beans can come in handy for someone who’s crunched on time. They are already cooked, so you don’t have to spend as much time on them as you would dried beans. 
  3. If you have the time (or a pressure cooker), cooking dried beans can be more beneficial than canned beans. They are cheaper and have less sodium, and you can better control the texture and flavor.
  5. Rinse your canned beans to make them less salty. They are often packed in water and the salt used to cook them. You can drain and rinse your beans or opt for low- or no-added sodium versions. 
  7. Beans are versatile. They are known for their ability to absorb flavor; try experimenting with different flavors by adding a variety of your favorite spices and herbs! You can also incorporate beans in salads, dips, hummus, burgers, tacos, burritos, grain bowls, and even brownies!
  9. Pair your beans with a variety of whole grains. Together, they offer complementary proteins and increased dietary fiber and may have a stronger positive effect on your health. 
  11. Beans are considered a source of protein or vegetables. If you’re making a meal with meat as the center, you can also use beans as a vegetable side.
  13. Beans, whether canned or dried, last a long time. Keep some beans in your pantry in case you can’t make it to the grocery store but need a source of protein or vegetables for your meals. 

Favorite Bean-Forward Recipes

Lemon Orzo Chickpea Salad

Ingredients: orzo, garbanzo beans, cucumber, red onions, cherry tomatoes, almonds, nutritional yeast, parsley, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and your favorite salad dressing

Instructions: Combine cooked orzo, drained cooked garbanzo beans, cut vegetables, chopped almonds, nutritional yeast, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Drizzle on your favorite salad dressing and toss gently until combined.

Find the full recipe on the Plant Based RD’s website.

Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: milk, raw cashews, drained cooked cannellini beans, white miso paste, Dijon mustard, olive oil, scallions, celery, carrot, sliced mushrooms, garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, wild rice, lemon juice, kale, parsley, and red pepper flakes

Instructions: Blend together milk, cashews, beans, miso paste, and mustard, and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pot and add chopped scallions, celery, carrot, mushrooms, and salt. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, beans, ground black pepper, and water. Cover and let simmer. Stir in blended mixture, rice, lemon juice, and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted. Season to taste and add lemon juice, parsley, and red pepper flakes. 

Find the full recipe on the Love & Lemons website.



Economic Research Service. (2023, November). Summary findings. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/ 

Foley, J. (2022). Black Beans. Today’s Dietitian. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/AS22p38.shtml

Pirnia, G. (2021, April 26). 4 reasons dried beans are better than canned. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cooking-with-dried-beans_l_607eeb9ce4b0dcb1545e2f51  

Today’s Dietitian. (n.d.). Beans and peas increase fullness more than meat. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/news/020717_news.shtml 

Webb, D. (2014). Beans and grains: The perfect pairing. Today’s Dietitian. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/120914p36.shtml