Beans (and Beans)
It looks like the price of "beans" is up substantially. But, "beans" in Nicaragua means red beans. Even the "canasta basica", a measure of the cost of essentials, uses the price of red beans. But, what does that mean for someone looking for a balanced diet?
There are lots of other types of beans available here. While red beans seem to be between C$10 and C$12 a pound, I recently bought white beans at C$6 and, as I remember, black beans at C$5.50. The white ones were for a particular dish I was cooking. I actually used them and squash to make the "cheese" in a Vegan lasagna I made. While it wasn't as "disgusting" as the one with real mozzarella, it was fine and it gave my aunt who can't eat fatty things such as cheese a nice meal.
Black beans, however, are our staple. I have always preferred black beans to red for over 20 years. Ana, who lived in Costa Rica, also prefers them. Other than a comment from the five year old son of a friend (why are these beans burned?), everyone else seems fine with them. They are grown as an export crop (to be sold to Costa Rica) and are always cheaper than red.
Soy beans are another crop grown here that seems to be a lot cheaper than red beans (except when the red bean crop comes in). I haven't bought any recently but the price is always lower. Great for making soy milk and also toasted soy nuts.
When the price of red beans is high, poor Nicaraguans tend to say they will just put more rice and less beans in their gallo pinto. The "good nutrition" answer is different. I have made gallo pinto using black beans, red beans, white beans, soy beans and ever garbanzo beans. While garbanzo is not a "cheap alternative", they all work, they all are nutritious and they can save people money.