I am weary of grocery shopping.
There are very few processed foods that my family can even eat anymore because of all the synthetic ingredients and our various allergies.
Meal planning has become arduous as I attempt to prepare balanced, healthy, filling meals for my family.
One of our favorite meals is chili and rice with cheese. With the babies and house work, convenience food would be great! But, with my gluten and corn allergies, and my son’s potato allergies, there aren’t many canned chilis that we can enjoy.
Because Amy’s brand black bean chili is just about the only “safe” chili for me and my son, and it runs close to $4 per can, AND the grocery stores near us are usually out of it, I decided to make and can our own chili.
A couple things first– yes, this is an extensive process that from start to finish takes about 2 days. Also, my cost comparisons are figured based on already having the jars, lids, and bands necessary, and a small food storage that includes dried beans. And finally, I make certain compromises on some ingredients to save either time or money. I opt for store brand ground beef because it comes in bulk poundage, and yes, there’s some modicum of mom guilt about not giving my kids grass fed, non-gmo, hormone free beef… But that’s quickly replaced by “Hey we’re on a tight budget, and my kids need fed!” So I try not to lose too much sleep over it. I also use powdered onion instead of dicing up two or three. Some may ask if the time saved is worth it- to them, I say try dicing onions while nursing an infant, and refereeing two toddlers.
Homemade Black Bean Chili
- Soak a 1lb bag of black beans for 24 hours. Rinse and drain the beans about every 4-8 hours, keeping beans covered with water.
- Cook the beans in a large stock pot. I boil the beans for about 4 hours, or until they’re soft. Yes, I’m aware I could find faster ways of doing this, but the opportunity cost to convenience is always money, a valuable resource I’m trying to conserve, so I don’t mind spending my time. Careful to make sure the water doesn’t boil down too low add some if needed- burned beans smell atrocious.
- Brown 2lbs ground beef. I live in the real world, so Aldi brand, 90/10 it is! Drain and rinse ground beef.
- Add beef to the pot of beans- the water should have boiled down at this point.
- Add salt, (garlic powder and pepper if you aren’t allergic…we are…) Chili powder, cumin, and onion powder to taste (I usually start with about a tablespoon of each and taste it before progressing to more.
- Stir in 1 large can of crushed tomatoes.
- Let simmer for about 10 minutes
- While the chili simmers, sanitize 5-8 pint jars. *Adding 2TBSP of white distilled vinegar to the water keeps the jars from having water spotting.* The amount of jars depends on the capacity of your pressure canner and whether or not you’re going to eat any of the chili “fresh”. I usually make a large pot, can about 7 pint jars, and have the rest of the chili for dinner that night.
- Remove the jars, lids, and bands from the boiling water, and wipe the edges with a clean dry coth.
- Using a funnel, fill the jars with the chili leaving 1 inch of headspace.
- Tighten the lids to “finger tight”.
- Follow the directions for your specific canner for processing time and pressure.
- Make sure only the specified amount of water is in the canner at this point if you used the canner to sterilize your jars, lids, and bands earlier.
- Yes, there are ways to can chili other than using a pressure canner…if you want to poison your family. You need to use a pressure canner, or possibly an instapot? I don’t have one, can they actually can foods? Anyone? Someone research that and get back to me.
- Return the filled jars to the canner, and follow canning instructions for proper processing procedure. For my canner, it’s 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes for pint jars, 90 minutes for quart jars.
- After processing, allow pressure to come down naturally
- Remove canning lid only once the pressure is completely down.
- Remove the jars from the canner and let them cool for a few hours.
- Remove the bands and store jars in your pantry for no more than 1 year from canning date.
We eat chili regularly so we never make it to that expiration date. Be sure to check that all of your jars properly sealed before you put them away. If any didn’t seal, eat them right away or store in the refrigerator for later consumption, no more than two days.
2 lbs ground beef- $6.79 at Aldi
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes- $0.89
Total cost (excluding jars, beans from food storage, spices) = $7.68
Price per jar (8 pint (16 oz. jars)- $0.96
Store bought chili
Hormel brand- $1.49/ 15 oz can
Price for 8 cans = $11.92
Amy’s brand- $4.49/14.7 oz can
Price for 8 cans = $35.92
Money saved vs Hormel- $0.53 per can
Money saved vs Amy’s- $3.53 per can
So, it may take me longer, but the savings, and assurance that it is allergen-free is worth it for sure.