Cheap Eats January #5 : In praise of beans on toast

Yes that’s right, I am writing a post on… baked beans on toast.

Only because nutritionally it’s a great meal, it’s cheap of course and if you’ve been working all day, doesn’t take long to prepare so you get to spend some time with your kids.


This meal will give your kids good amounts of protein, potassium, calcium, iron zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate, oh and fibre, of course.

Lower salt baked beans are ideal, as regular baked beans (and organic brands can be higher than others) tend to be high in salt (a quarter of a 100g tin of baked can provide as much as 75% of a 5 year olds recommended intake of salt – and that’s before you’ve added in the salt from bread too).

Protein combining

Proteins are chains of amino acids, of which there are 8 that are essential in our diets. Two of these, lysine and methionine are more readily available in balanced proportions in protein from animal sources (such as eggs, milk and cheese). Vegetarians and especially vegans need to make sure they get a combination of foods that have good amounts of each.

Protein from cereals such as wheat and rice, tend to be low in lysine but good sources of methionine. Beans and lentils and peas tend to be low in methionine but high in lysine.

So combining cereals and legumes means you get complete proteins. Classic examples examples being beans on toast, humous and bread, tortilla and chilli (with red kidney beans) and rice and dhal (lentils).

It was for some time thought essential to combine these foods at the same meal but is now not thought to be necessary. However, it is interesting that in different cultures, all over the World that these combinations have existed for hundreds and thousands of years.

Even if it’s not required to combine these foods at the same meal, it makes sense to, as they complement each other so well.


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