Since I love to cook, we buy very little processed food. Our vegetables and fruit are always either fresh or frozen, and we buy lots of stuff in bulk, with very little packaging. But beans and tomatoes are the exception to the rule. I buy various kinds of canned beans and I also stock up on canned diced tomatoes whenever we go to Costco. But with the Bisphenol-A debate heating up, and especially since I’m pregnant and trying to avoid toxins as much as humanly possible, I’m going to stop buying canned goods and see if I can adapt to using other alternatives.
Beans are easy – I bought a bag of dry black beans last week for about 2/3 the price of one can of black beans. I soaked the beans overnight and cooked them in my crock pot while I was at work, ending up with about 4 or 5 cans worth of beans (for less than the cost of one can of beans plus the electricity to run my crock pot). Plus, I cooked them in reverse osmosis filtered water, and I know that there is no BPA contamination in them from can liners. I made some of the beans into chili, and some into a Caribbean mango-beans-and-rice dish that we both liked.
We eat beans a lot, so I’ve decided to make the crock pot a counter top appliance. It used to live in the pantry, and I would just bring it out when I needed it – but out of sight out of mind was an issue, and I haven’t used it that often. If I keep it on my counter, where I can see it every day, I think I’ll be a lot more likely to use it. My plan is to make a pot of beans each week, and use them in recipes for the rest of the week. I’m going to store them in glass spaghetti sauce jars in the fridge, since glass doesn’t have the potential contamination problems that plastic does.
Tomatoes are a tougher one. They’re very acidic, so I don’t think that there are any companies that sell canned tomatoes without liners in the cans – the tomatoes would eat through the cans otherwise. A suggestion I found on line was to use sun dried tomatoes (which come in jars that I sometimes buy at Costco) instead. I love sun dried tomatoes, and often use them when I cook, but I hadn’t thought of using them in place of diced tomatoes. I would have to tweak my cooking, since sun dried tomatoes have so much more flavor than canned tomatoes and I wouldn’t need to use as much. And of course I can always use fresh tomatoes during the summer and fall when we have them in our garden and in our weekly produce delivery. Anyway, I’m on a mission to cut our consumption of canned goods significantly. There are some things (coconut milk, for example) that I think I’ll have to keep buying in cans, but if I can eliminate tomatoes and beans, I’ll be way ahead of where we are now. And I’ll be cutting down on packaging waste and saving money in the process. I’ll let you know how my tomato adventures turn out.