Spill the beans: 5 budget beans and their uses

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Spill the beans: 5 budget beans and their uses

If you don’t know beans about, er, beans, we’re here to school you about some of our favourites and when and how to use them

Regarded “poor man’s food” by an uninspired few, there’s so much more to beans than meets the eye: these little legumes are a nutritional powerhouse – they’re packed with fibre and protein, among other nutrients. Moreover, they’re the ultimate ingredient for when you’re on a budget squeeze, and play well with more than just a sad slice of toast (although these butter bean toasties look rather tempting).
If you don’t know your butter beans from your red kidney beans, get your can-opener ready and read on.


Also known as string beans, green beans are unripe in that they are harvested and eaten with their pods before the seeds have a chance to mature.

How to use them: While they’re great on their own (boiled), you can jazz up green beans by simply roasting them with a drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper and salt. They’re also a great accompaniment to poached eggs, hearty beef stews and salads and as a side to a variety of other dishes.

Try: Tempura green beans and niçoise salad with warm soft-boiled eggs


A variety of the lima bean, butter beans are large and flat with an off-whitish colour, available dried or canned.

How to use them: They have a myriad culinary uses including casseroles, curries and soups. They’re also great pan-fried and served as a side. Rinse dried butter beans thoroughly and soak overnight before boiling for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft with a bite.

Try: Tomato, chorizo and butter bean pot with garlic toast and chorizo, bean and smoked paprika chilli soup.


Creamy white in colour, cannellini beans are kidney-shaped and perfect for use in casseroles and salads, or simply served on toast.

How to use them: For fuss-free use, go for the canned variety, but if you’re looking for more flavour and texture, get them dry. If you buy them canned, drain and rinse them before use, but if you get them dried, they need to be rinsed and soaked for a couple of hours before cooking.

Try: Warm cannellini bean dip with parsnip crisps and bay leaf kebabs with baked cannelllini beans


Aptly named for their resemblance to kidneys, these dark red beans often make an appearance in Mexican cuisine. They’re packed with iron and protein and are rich in flavour.

How to use them: If you’re using the dried variety, make sure you rinse and soak them before cooking.

Try: Spicy Mexican red kidney bean soup with chunky guacamole and chilli con carne


Ready to eat, these budget beans are typically made from haricot beans and are sweet-savoury in flavour. They can, however, be spiced up with a few odds and ends from your pantry and fridge.

How to use them: Straight from the can, as a side with eggs and/or toast.

Try: Home-made baked beans with egg

Click here for more easy recipes starring beans.

Ashraf Booley Article by: Ashraf Booley

Woolworths TASTE’s digital content producer loves nothing more than trying out inventive recipes and using close friends and family as his guinea pigs. When he’s not crafting content or posting images to TASTE’s Instagram account, he sits in a quiet corner sipping on pretentious tea and penning poetry.

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