Save money and sodium! Cook your own beans at home.
Very large pot (7 quarts or larger)
Large colander or sieve
Freezer-safe zipper bags
Sharpie permanent marker
Rinse and sort through the dried beans. Put the beans in a large colander, a few at a time, and pick through them. Discard any weird bits and pieces like rock, clumps of dirt, badly broken beans or shriveled bits. Rinse, swish, and look through them again. Flick them into the soaking and cooking pot, a few at a time, checking the beans carefully one last time.
Place the rinsed and sorted beans into the pot and fill with water to about two inches above the beans. Either cover and let sit overnight to soak, or, to do the quick soak method, place your beans and water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and cover. Let sit for 1 hour.
Drain the soaking water, rinse and swish the soaked beans, and drain again.
Add fresh water to the pot of soaked beans, to about two inches above the top of the beans. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover beans.
Cook the beans until tender and the skins peel when you blow on them, 30 - 60 minutes, depending on the type of bean. If you're cooking kidney beans, cook them well! Raw or undercooked kidney beans can be toxic.
Remove from heat, uncover, and let cool.
Once cool, drain the cooking water. Label your freezer bags and scoop beans into bags. Seal and transfer to freezer until ready to use in your cooking, just like you would a drained can of beans. Beans keep in the freezer for about 6 months.
To use, just add frozen beans directly to recipes like chili or beans and rice. They'll thaw right in the pot or pan. For recipes where you need to start with thawed beans, pull them out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge, or place the sealed bag in a large bowl of warm water to quick-thaw.