Meal Prep Like a Pro: 3 Cans of Beans, 9 Ways

9 Flavorful Bean Recipes for Cheap, Healthy Meals

If you ask any trainer or nutritionist what’s the number one ingredient they keep in their pantry, chances are it’s a can of beans. Also known as pulses, beans are an incredibly nutritious dietary staple. In addition to packing fiber and plant-based protein, they’re also rich zinc, iron, magnesium and folate (an important B vitamin). Some research suggests that a diet high in beans may even decrease the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol.

And then there’s the accessibility factor. At just one dollar per can of beans, you can spend very little to get a whole lot of heartiness. From tacos to egg scrambles to chili, there’s no limit on how many creative bean recipes you can come up with. Don’t believe us? Here are nine ways to make the most out of just three cans, including chickpeas, black beans and cannellini beans.

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1 Can of Chickpeas: 3 Asian and Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes

Bean Recipes: Indian Chickpea Dal with Coconut Broth

1. Indian Chickpea Dal with Coconut Broth

It’s hard to imagine an easier Indian curry recipe than this 15-minute dish. Microwaving rice is an awesome cooking hack — and you can always make a large batch to have rice for other meals later in the week (rice also freezes well!). Divide the recipe by four if you’re cooking for one and save the rest of your chickpeas for the next two recipes. Photo and recipe: Jaden Hair / Steamy Kitchen

Bean Recipes: Broccoli Chickpea Pita Sandwiches

2. Lemony Broccoli, Chickpea & Avocado Pita Sandwiches

Step up your brown bag game with this elevated sandwich recipe. Sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese or kalamata olives add sweet and savory flavors to a simple broccoli and chickpea salad. Top with avocado or hummus and serve with whole-grain pita bread. Best of all, you won’t have to whip out a single pot or pan for this recipe. Tip: Prep the full dressing recipe to have a simple salad dressing on hand for another time. Photo and recipe: Kathryne Taylor / Cookie and Kate

Bean Recipes: Chickpea Scramble

3. Fluffy Chickpea Scramble

Forget about egg scrambles, or even tofu (the go-to vegan alternative). A chickpea scramble is the perfect alternative for those who don’t love the texture of eggs or tofu (yes, we know you’re out there). Be sure to drain, but not rinse, the chickpeas — the aquafaba on the chickpea helps them cook into a scramble. Opt for store-bought baba ganoush to cut the total prep time to under 15 minutes. Note: Halve the recipe to make a single serving. Photo and recipe: Minimalist Baker / Dana Shultz

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1 Can of Black Beans: 3 Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Bean Recipes: Cheesy Beans and Rice

1. Cheesy Beans and Rice

Any recipe that starts with “cheesy” is a yes in our book. Not to mention, beans and rice is a classic combo rich in protein for a vegetarian diet. All you have to do is layer the rice, beans and cheeses in a baking dish and pop it into the oven for about five minutes. Out of all the bean recipes out there, it can’t get any simpler and quicker than that! Make one-quarter of the recipe for a single serving. Photo and recipe: Chungah Rhee / Damn Delicious

Bean Recipes: Vegan Breakfast Burrito

2. Vegan Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast burritos are the ideal busy morning breakfast. They’re portable, quick to reheat, and if you meal prep in advance, they can easily be frozen in bulk. This satisfying burrito includes rice, red potatoes and a delicious avocado slaw. If you’re not meal prepping, you can whip up one breakfast burrito with just half a cup of black beans. Photo and recipe: Gwen Leron / Delightful Adventures

Bean Recipes: Chicken Fajita Sweet Potatoes

3. Twice-Baked Chicken Fajita Sweet Potatoes

Any recipe that comes with a “fast version” is perfect for easy weeknight meals. A microwave takes the prep time on this twice-baked sweet potato way down. Just microwave the sweet potatoes on high for 10 minutes, or until you’re able to pierce the spuds with a fork. If you opt to go vegetarian, swap more black beans for chicken and reduce your total cook time. Photo and recipe: Karina Carrel / Cafe Delites 

RELATED: 12 Healthy Breakfast Burrito Recipes You Can Grab and Go

1 Can of White Beans: 3 Italian-Inspired Recipes

Bean Recipes: Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans

1. One Pan Gnocchi With Sundried Tomatoes and White Beans

Yes, you can pan-fry gnocchi, and yes, that is the best news we’ve heard all week. This one-pan meal is hearty and warm, yet totally simple and completely vegetarian. We also love that it is a sneaky way to consume a whole cup of spinach and a can of beans without even noticing! The red hot pepper flakes, sundried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese add mouthwatering flavor to the simple dish. Photo and recipe: Denise / Sweet Peas and Saffron

Bean Recipes: Pasta with White Beans and Garlic-Rosemary Oil

2. Pasta and White Beans with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

This bean recipe is the kind of dish you bust out when you want to impress, but don’t really want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking up a big dinner. Two cans of beans plus one pound of pasta make an enormous quantity, so reduce by one-third to one-fourth for two people. And if you’ve got a fridge full of fresh herbs, this is a great opportunity to use leftover parsley to prep a thick and creamy white bean sauce. Photo and recipe: Deb Perelman / Smitten Kitchen

Bean Recipes: 10-Minute White Bean Artichoke Basil Toasts

3. 10-Minute White Bean Artichoke Basil Toasts

To put an Italian twist to your morning toast, or crostini, as they call it, consider this white bean spread. Cannellini beans make a beautifully creamy alternative to avocado, and when you combine it with artichoke hearts and spinach, it also makes a healthy, finger-licking dip. Photo and recipe: Lindsay Ostrom / Pinch of Yum

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