A new video celebrating World Pulses Day on 10 February 2024 aims to show how the humble bean can inspire a wide range of tasty meals that are affordable, nutritious and kind to the planet. 

BeanMeals@Home highlights recent household research from the BeanMeals project, which is investigating innovations to scale up the consumption and production of two new varieties of UK-grown common beans, similar to haricot and kidney beans. Affordable, nutrient dense and water efficient, pulses are widely lauded as a vehicle for healthy diets and sustainable agrifood systems. 

The BeanMeals project, led by the Food Systems Transformation Group, draws together researchers from five institutions who are investigating current barriers in the food system to the promotion of the UK beans. They are also assessing whether a demand for the homegrown beans, developed by the University of Warwick, could create opportunities for UK businesses. Currently the UK imports the majority of beans we consume, including the beans in at least two million cans of baked beans sold every single day. 

The household work was led by Lucy Michaels, a food systems researcher at the University of Hertfordshire, one of the BeanMeals’s partner institutions. She said: “It was a huge privilege to observe families at their stoves and dinner tables. All the participants were interested in cooking with beans, not only for the health benefits but also as an inexpensive quick meal. Those familiar with dried pulses gave us a real masterclass but even our novice bean cooks showed real creativity in incorporating a new food into meals tailored for their families’ needs.

“In a city as diverse as Leicester, where the research took place, it’s no surprise that participants drew on different food cultures, including English, Italian, Caribbean, Greek, Gujarati and Punjabi to illustrate how versatile beans can be. There were also dishes with the beans hidden for fussy eaters.”

ECI-based Lisa Didier, Engagement Officer for BeanMeals, added:

This video gives a taste of the work we’ve done in Leicestershire with Food for Life. We also worked with primary school children in six schools to test bean meals on school menus. The creativity of the participants in the video mirrors the ingenuity of the school cooks we worked with. It was fantastic to see the different recipe ideas from school cooks and families.”

Watch the BeanMeals@Home film and find out more about the project.