Dry beans are a lifestyle. You can't have them for dinner if you plan your menu an hour before the event. You have to plan ahead a day or two. Here are some tips that help me incorporate them into my menu.
- Plan a menu. Mark the meals you know you'll have to soak beans for, to help you remember ahead of time.
- Make your own convenience food. Cook up some dry beans and freeze them in 1 1/2 cup portions. Then you can pull out a "can" of beans at short notice.
- Cook all your week's beans at once. Label and refrigerate until they are needed.
- Cook different sorts of beans together. If you have a recipe that calls for three different types of beans, soak and cook them together. The smaller beans may get a little mushy and the colors may blend, but if you don't care about that, it does save a lot of time.
- Cook double the beans you need. Freeze half of them for the next time you make that recipe. Last week I cooked a double batch of beans for my favorite chili and froze half of them. The next time I want to make chili, all I have to do is thaw the beans. This saves energy, too.