Have you ever spent so much time thinking about doing something that by the time you actually do it you worry that it won’t even be close to what you imagined? That is me, 24/7. But it’s especially me when it comes to this post. Yes, a post about cooking chickpeas. By the way, the instructions for how to cook chickpeas in an Instant Pot are at the very bottom of the post, so if you don’t feel like reading this (I don’t blame you), scroll, baby, scroll.
I have been wanting to write this post for over 2 years, and I’ve started it several times but never got it just right. And you know what? This one probably isn’t just right either, but dang it it’s going out into the world anyway because it’s CHICKPEAS for crying out loud. I somehow make everything a much bigger deal than it needs to be. I think I need therapy.
(searches for appropriate segue…comes up empty)
So, while this is a post about saving money by cooking chickpeas in an Instant Pot (more on that in a minute), this is really more of inside look into the inner-workings of my brain. If nothing else, I hope you come away from this thinking, “Well, at least I’m not THAT crazy.”
My goal with this post was to answer the age old question, the one that philosophers have been wrestling with since the dawn of the canning process. Is it really cheaper to cook dried beans from scratch? Spoiler alert: The answer is yes. But proving it in my very own kitchen proved to be more math than I expected, at first.
I started with three cans of chickpeas and a big bag of dried chickpeas from the bulk section at my grocery store. Here was my thinking:
Drain and weigh the contents of canned chickpeas.
Cook the equivalent weight of dried chickpeas.
Here’s how it went.
First, I got out my handy-dandy kitchen scale.
Then, I tared/zeroed the weight from the bowl where I’d place the drained chickpeas.
As we can see here, 3 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained, weigh in at 1 pound, 11 ounces.
Next, I measured out enough dried chickpeas to weigh 1 pound, 11 ounces (ok, technically 11 and 3/4 ounces, whoops).
Then I cooked the dried chickpeas in the Instant Pot (see instructions below).
It took three batches to weigh them, but in adding them up it turns out that 1 pound and 11 ounces of dried chickpeas weighs just over 4 pounds after cooking!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that 4 pounds is more than 1 pound, 11 ounces. 🙂
Ok, sounds great, Beth, but you still haven’t proven that it’s cheaper!
Here’s where my brain started to go a little haywire. I wanted to give you a simple comparison, but by starting with a random number of canned chickpeas, I had an even more random weight as my baseline. That made doing the comparison math really frustrating. For example…
3 cans of chickpeas costs $1/each (avg.)., for a total of $3.
The weight of 3 cans of chickpeas, drained, is 1 pound 11 ounces.
One pound of dried chickpeas is $2.50 (avg.).
The weight of 1 pound and 11 ounces of dried chickpeas, cooked, is 4 pounds 8 ounces.
4 pounds 8 ounces divided by $2.50 compared to 1 pound 11 ounces divided by $3.00 = MATH I DO NOT WANT TO DO.
I know it seems really dumb that I didn’t want to do that math. It’s really not that much math, and it’s a basic calculation, we’re not talking algebra. But I figured, if I didn’t want to do it, then chances are you didn’t want to do it either. So I found a simpler way to explain things, and it’s a bit more visual. Ready?
To simplify things, I used one pound of dried chickpeas as the reference point. 1 pound of dried chickpeas yields 2.5 pounds by weight. It takes five 15-ounce chickpeas (drained) to equal 1 pound of dried chickpeas after they have been cooked.
After going to 5 different stores in my area of varying price points (Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, etc.), I learned that the average cost for a 15-ounce can of organic chickpeas is $1.00. At Costco, I can get them for .75/each, sometimes cheaper (in an 8-pack). Dried chickpeas run anywhere from $1.25 (conventional) to $3.00 (organic). I went with $2.50 as the average to stay on the high side (made for a fairer comparison, in my mind).
To answer the question, FINALLY: It costs $5 to buy the same amount of canned chickpeas that can be cooked at home for $2.50. Twice as much, basically. AND, no cans to open!
So there you have it, folks. Even when you are buying organic dried chickpeas, it is still much cheaper to cook them from scratch (in an Instant Pot, of course), then it is to buy them canned. And by using an Instant Pot, your total hands-on time is 15 minutes or less, and that includes the time for packing the chickpeas for storage and cleaning up. Not to mention, no fumbling with a can opener or adding a bunch of cans to your recycling bin. Will there be times when you reach for the can? Of course, I do it. This is just one small way you can save yourself some money, time, and waste.
But wait, there’s more! A video!
Because my obsession with this topic can’t be suppressed, I did a Facebook Live video to demonstrate the cost savings of dried chickpeas over canned. I also share about my grocery shopping adventures where I learned that canned chickpea prices are all over the map, and there’s one brand in particular that is just obscenely high. Watch the video to find out who it is!
And with that, I am off to roast some chickpeas for Thai Chickpea Pizza. Oh yes. This is happening. Get ready.
- 1 pound of dried chickpeas
Pick over the chickpeas to remove any that are discolored or shriveled. Rinse and drain in a colander.
Optional: Soak the chickpeas in filtered water overnight and maybe add a strip of kombu seaweed too (helps with gas, supposedly). Drain and rinse before proceeding to the next step.
Add the chickpeas to the insert of an Instant Pot and cover with water by 3-4 inches.
Set the Instant Pot to High Pressure, and adjust the timer to 35 minutes (12 minutes if using soaked chickpeas)
When the cooking time is up, turn off the Instant Pot and wait 15-20 minutes, then release any remaining pressure before unlocking the lid.
Strain off the liquid (keep it for aquafaba!), and refrigerate or freeze the chickpeas in whatever portions you like (I prefer 3 cups, as that is the equivalent to two cans of chickpeas).