Cheap Eats: Beans, Beans! Good for Your Heart AND Your Budget!

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I have a cheap eats recipe that has never failed me. One that magically seems to improve my mood when I make it. I have shared this cheap eat with family, and now they request that I make it for them! Now our newer Frugalite readers might be asking, “What is a cheap eat?” I am so glad you asked! 

A cheap eat is a meal that is “reasonably filling, quick to make, (cooking utilities add up too), and less than a dollar a serving.” [source] If you have not checked out the classic Cheap Eat article on the Frugalite, then you are in for a treat! You will find a list of no less than 25 of them right here! 

Because I appreciate this classic article so much, I want to share my own favourite cheap eat with you. Mine is “Beans Colette,” which is a variation of Beans on Toast. 

But, First a Little History About Beans on Toast

Before I proceed, I want to highlight this could be a cultural difference between the British (and those of more recent British extraction) and Americans. The social question website Quora has numerous threads that highlight this difference. For example,  “Why do Americans think Beans on Toast is gross?” and “Why would I eat beans on my toast?”  And, there is this one: “Do Brits really eat beans on toast?” 

If you are American and might be thinking along these lines, I encourage you to keep an open mind. If you are a Frugalite, you are open to finding savings. And this is a thrifty, nifty cheap eats recipe I am about to share with you!

My family’s heritage is Irish, and Beans on Toast is very popular in Ireland as well. My mother told me she got the idea for Beans on Toast from her mother. When I was a child, we would often have beans on toast for lunch or supper. I got used to this and enjoyed it. As I grew older, I made one tiny adjustment to beans on toast to create “Beans Colette.” You might be surprised at what this addition is!

Here is The TOP SECRET Cheap Eats Recipe For Beans Colette

Well, secret up until now, that is! 

  • Buy the RIGHT can of beans. It cannot be pork and beans or Boston Baked beans. It should be only tomato sauce and beans. Right now in Canada, Heinz appears to be the dominant brand, and it is excellent. There are also many no-name brands available, which are particular to each grocery store chain. **If you like those other beans, you may adapt the recipe later, but I recommend for your first time to stick with only tomato sauce and beans for the full effect.**
  • Empty the beans into a small pan for warming on the stove. I prefer a small fry pan. Even if you are on your own, use the entire can. You will understand why later! 
  • Add a small amount of water, approximately 1/4 cup. This is to thin down the sauce and prevent it from over-thickening while simmering.
  • Turn on your stove to medium-low heat, a gentle simmer.
  • Add the SECRET INGREDIENT: 1/8 teaspoon of fresh turmeric. Be cautious about adding more, as this is a potent spice. Over-enthusiasm with turmeric can spoil your Beans Colette! (This has happened to me, and it became inedible.)
  • Simmer gently for some time until the bean sauce thickens nicely. This might be around 30 minutes. You don’t want the bean sauce to be too thin, or it will soak your toast and make it soggy!
  • Prepare your toast. It is best when it is crispy.
  • You may butter your toast if you like, but this is optional. I like to butter mine.
  • Place one or two pieces of toast on a large plate. 
  • Spoon your Beans Colette onto the toast. I use half a can, spread across two pieces of toast. They can spill over a bit.
  • For good nutrition, I like to add a side salad or serving of veggies.
  • ENJOY! I like to eat mine with a fork and knife. If you are a better eater than I, you might be able to eat yours by hand. 

If you are a single Frugalite cooking for yourself, ENJOY again, as you now have a second helping to put away for tomorrow. I actually love to eat my leftover Beans Colette cold on warm toast.

Additional Cheap Eat Options for Beans Colette!

Because each of us is different, I also wanted to tell you a few variations that you might enjoy:

  • Add a slice of old cheddar or processed cheese on top of your toast (butter optional). The warm beans will melt the cheese on the toast. It is quite a nice effect!
  • Add grated cheese on top
  • Before you warm your beans, you can sauté some finely minced onion in butter or oil until soft and browned. Then add your beans and proceed with the recipe. I prefer the onions to be soft, as I’m not too fond of the combination of crunchy onion and soft bean. See what you think!
  • We didn’t eat this when I was young, but my mother highly recommends beans on a baked potato as well (I guess that’s not Beans on Toast, though!)
  • Heinz also makes a can of baked beans with maple syrup. These beans make a sweet and also delicious variation on Beans Colette.

Please, Spill the Beans!

Have you ever tried Beans on Toast? How did you like it? Do you have any other variation on Beans on Toast that you can share with us? If you try Beans Colette, please let us know what you think! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Cheap Eats: Beans, Beans! Good for Your Heart AND Your Budget!
Picture of Colette


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

37 thoughts on “Cheap Eats: Beans, Beans! Good for Your Heart AND Your Budget!”

  1. Hi Thrifty People,
    When I watch these channels and see all the packets and cans you use I’m a bit surprised. According to stuff you can find on the internet cans have some horrendous chemical coating inside them which you really don’t want to have anything to do with. I live in the country in South Africa. I’ve been vegan for a few years now and of course beans play quite a large part in my eating. But beans out of cans! If you have to buy from a supermarket then buy the dry beans in packets. Accept that they have probably been coated with some kind of poison to discourage bugs and soak them in water. Then throw away the water. Boil them a good long time and then save them in meal-sized portions in the freezer. If you can make your own tomato sauce with your own tomatoes then so much the better. Otherwise buy a good organic preservative free, colourant free one.
    I have been lucky in that for two years now in the autumn I have been able to buy 50kg of dry beans from a local farmer. That lasts two vegan families for two years nad is cost effective.
    Anyway if possible give up the brightly coloured packets and cans.

    1. Hi Chris, Thank you so much for taking the time to share about the benefits of dried beans. Honestly, I totally agree. In an ideal world, (my dream world, actually!) I would be soaking and cooking and canning my own beans. I live on a Half-Acre Homestead and do grow quite a bit of my own food. I would say that I eat these beans out of a can perhaps…..I don’t know…..certainly not once a month….maybe a few times a year? Most of the time, I favour red lentils, which cook up so quickly. Being a widow and on my own, I find that (and this is just for me!) it is too big of a production to do all of the cooking of the dried beans. While I could not agree more that canned items in general likely do contain some form of contamination, I do chose to eat them in the context of an overall fresh food and homegrown diet. Thanks again for making this point, as it is a highly relevant one for everyone to keep in mind!

  2. Usually use made from scratch beans, over cornbread, bagels, English muffins. I do prefer to make them myself, much cheaper and I control the ingredients.

    1. MTMerlin, I think your homemade beans over cornbread must be delicious! I agree, much cheaper to make from scratch. Do you put any spices in your homemade beans? I would love to try this sometime!

      1. my favorite meal as a child was pinto beans poured over cornbread. my mother, a hillbilly from the smoky mountains, made it all the time. she cooked the (dried) pinto beans with salt and a ham hock or two–if ham hocks or fatback weren’t available, she used bacon. she baked the cornbread in her cast iron skillet (real cornbread, with no sugar in it!) and she would eat it with a green onion that she dipped in salt before each bite. not everyone in the family ate the onions, but we all loved the beans and cornbread!

        1. Hi Nancy, Thank you for sharing this special memory of your mother’s beans. I am going to try to make this sometime. I will first look for a ham hock at our local butcher. I grow my own pinto beans here on my Half-Acre Homestead. I think they are simply beautiful beans. I could stare at the gorgeous patterns on the beans for ages: to me, they are like paintings. I have my own cast iron skillet. I am so glad you shared this recipe. I have never been to the smoky mountains, but will be proud to share your mother’s recipe with my friends and family! Wishing you the best in the coming year, Nancy!

  3. Real quick note I spoke to a person whose family grew beans. I asked if there was any sort of advice she would give those who eat beans. She said one single carrot added to a pot of beans changes the chemistry enough that results are easier to digest. I would think a little carrots would serve a the perfect sweetener to the pot as well. We have tried this method and it works.

    1. Hi Sandra, That is fantastic that you are sharing this tip, which is clearly based on solid experience. I grow my own carrots and could easily make this addition. I agree that the carrots could also add some sweetness. Thanks for thinking to share this!

    1. Hi L Shanley, My apologies! I had meant powdered turmeric. So, yes, you would use the same amount. I hope this helps. You are most welcome. I am sure this will clarify this issue for other readers. Much appreciated!

  4. Gourmet beans on toast: Toast with butter, fried egg ( with runny yolk), baked beans (heated up with a dab of butter, black pepper, and cayenne pepper – Heinz baked beans of course – takes 10min if that and need to watch it), and SAUSAGES if you like them. Oh, and grated cheddar on top. 🙂

    1. Issy, you are my kind of cook! This sounds like your own “Beans Issy.” What a delicious sounding pile of yummy food this is! I am going to try the cayenne pepper….I like heat, so I think this will be great. Yum YUM.

  5. Oof. Heinz beans (13.5 oz) are $2.49 a can (local supermarket). That’s a lot of outlay for two-and-a-half servings of beans.

    You can buy navy beans for $1.29 a pound, cook them, and make nearly 3 pounds of beans (about 13 servings). Add a cup of tomato sauce (33 cents), a few pennies worth of sugar and vinegar. I bet it is probably cheaper if you buy these things at Wal-Mart!

    1. Hi Bill, Whoa that is a lot for a can of Heinz beans where you are! I can get a can here in my area of Canada for around CA$1 at one of the discount grocery stores. To be honest, my “Beans Colette” is a meal I make when I need something simple and quick to make. It is a comfort food I associate with my childhood. I am inspired by everyone’s thrifty comments on this article to make the leap and make my own. Maybe I could write about it? I just bought a new small fridge today to supplement my small off-grid fridge. So, from today onwards, I am better set up to make large pots of things and portion them for future use. I appreciate your frugal thinking and comments! You have got me thinking!

      1. Hi Colette,

        I made sure to look up the specific can of Heinz beans that the Brits put on toast. That price is common across three different supermarkets in my area (Houston, TX).

        Ah, it could be cheaper in Canada due to the British culture presence.

        1. Hi Bill, Thank you so much for doing this research, as I’m sure others will be interested in this significant price difference (US$2.49 to CAN$1)! I’m honestly shocked. It sounds like we have a lot of readers who are making their own. I would probably be more motivated to do so at the prices in your region. Thanks again for updating us on this.

  6. Colette, in a pinch a can of beans certainly beats calling out for pizza. I have never had the nerve to try beans on toast but I will go hunt for a can of Heinz beans to your specifications.

    1. Hi Alice, Yes, that’s a good comparison! Certainly, at around $1 for a can, it is also much cheaper than the pizza. I wish you luck with trying beans on toast. I hope that you enjoy them! Let us know how you like them. Thanks for posting.

  7. Pork-n-Beans sweetened with Karo dark syrup over fried potatoes is a pretty filling. I don’t often “mix” food together but grew up eating that combo.
    Refried beans on a tortilla is tasty – scratch refried start with dried beans. Either scratch made or from the can be frozen for future use.
    Frugal food is thinking outside the box + time + utilities – cleanup. While we do eat out (budget allows and the cook needs a break), we are of the opinion that meal planning and cleanup are the majority contributors to eating out (budget allows or not). Knowing what to make is the battle – be it with what you have on-hand OR when you grocery shop. Most of us have running water and a water heater. Cleanup doesn’t take much effort IMHO unless you have a physical condition. It is rather mindless and you get a sense of accomplishment. YMMV.
    Campbell’s pork-n-beans are darn near tomato based. I do like the above beans with potato or corn chips. I’ll have to try it on toast – might be a good way to use up some leftover beans.

    1. Hi Selena, While I am not familiar with Karo dark syrup, my thought is that it would very much be like the Heinz Maple Syrup beans with tomato sauce we have here in Canada. I just harvested my potatoes yesterday….it was a good harvest. Maybe 20 lbs. in my one row. I just boiled a couple after milking last night and ate them with butter…..sheer heaven. I will definitely try some beans over my prize potatoes this fall.

      Hot dang! I love getting new ideas from the comments here! I had not tried beans on corn chips, but now I will. We can trade! I buy a blue organic corn chip locally. They are soooo delicious. I will try some beans on them.

      I appreciate your thoughts on frugal food – it is good to consider all these different aspects of producing our food: creative thinking, time, utilities. I agree that sometimes the cook needs a break, too. While I know it’s always healthier to make my own, sometimes, I just want a holiday from it all. Let us know how you like the beans on toast; would love to hear about it!

      1. I look at it this way – rarely is an experiment/new recipe inedible. Might be an “it was okay but not going to/don’t make it again” OR it could be a home run. “Talking” to different people, reading, and/or food shows on TV can give a person ideas/new ideas. One can never stop learning.
        While cooking is really not my thing (I do like to eat), I grew up with good cooks and married a good cook. Both kids like to cook and we share recipes, ideas, and food.

        1. When we eat out, it is typically food we don’t cook/eat at home. Usually NOT chain/fast food restaurants but a particular fast food chicken sandwich is quite tasty for a very occasional treat.

          1. Yes! That’s me, too. I always aim to have a high percentage of what I eat regularly to be healthy. Then, say, 5% or less of the time, I’m having a treat eating out, I am ok with that. Bon apetit to all of us Frugal chefs!

        2. Hi Selena, that’s a positive perspective to take on trying new things. I am loving the feedback on this article, as everyone is adding to my ideas and options for Beans Colette. I have to say I am similar to you, in that cooking is not really my thing. That is not to say that I CAN’T cook, but that I would generally prefer to be out in my garden or writing or working on building my house. I know myself well enough to know that I need quick and easy ideas for meals, or I just won’t do it and I won’t eat well.

          1. I’m with you guys on the “can cook but don’t” wagon. My kids are adults and it’s just me and the doggos. I have so many other things I’d rather do than slave over a hot stove for just me, like work on my preps, write, and go exploring. Most of the food I eat is minimal effort stuff and I spend some time once a week prepping food in advance so I can just grab something reasonably healthy if I’m hungry.

          2. Hi Daisy, Your alternatives to cooking sound so fun! Work on your preps (like the great ones under your couch??!!??), writing (yay!) and exploring….I know you’ve travelled all over the world. Hard to stay in the kitchen with those options. Happy non-cooking!

  8. For a quick summer dinner, we mix a can of chili, can of refried beans mixed together, with corn chips, all cold. Bet that would would be good with your type of beans too

  9. Baked beans on buttered toast is normal here in Australia. I was brought up in New Zealand and baked beans sandwiches, and canned spaghetti in tomato sauce sandwiches, were my favourites.

  10. Have to admit the beans on toast was quite tasty. Always something new to try and in this case, on the “eat again” list.
    While off main-ingredient, I have to bring up poor (wo)man’s spaghetti (which was my go to hangover food in my late teens) – macaroni, ketchup, and Parmesan cheese. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It tastes better than you’d think and is pretty cheap, especially sans cheese.

    1. Hi Selena, You are the first to report back. That is so great to hear! I’m glad that Beans on Toast made your “eat again” list. I am going to try your “Poor (Wo)man’s Spaghetti” and report back! I’ll be in town tomorrow so will pick up ingredients. Many thanks!

  11. I have had a bean sandwich that tasted good. The beans were pinto beans cooked from scratch with ham. I have also had refried beans on tortillas and Navajo tacos that were good.

    1. Hi Justine, It just so happens that I am growing my own pinto beans this year. I will look for a recipe like what you’re described: that sandwich sounds delicious! It sounds like you’ve had a few bean dishes you liked. It is great that they are also good for us. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aprile! I am absolutely delighted that you were open to trying “Beans Colette” and especially that you enjoyed it. You just made my day!!! Thank you for posting and letting me know about this. As a writer, wanting to share and help others, it is so wonderful to get feedback like this. Priceless. Bon Apetit!

      1. Colette, my next tricky turnericky beany move will be to serve it over baked sweet potatoes ?

        PS: A suggestion: if you rearrange to put the most recent comments at the top, it’s easier for people to read new comments. (And it wouldn’t look like you haven’t had any new posts since 2 September) ?

        1. Aprile, I definitely think you are on to something wtih those sweet potatoes. They are a favourite of mine!
          I will definitely mention your suggestion to admin. Thanks for thinking of that!

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