Baked beans are a great pantry staple: with a can in the cupboard you can whip up a cheap and tasty meal in no time.
When you think beans, you probably think Heinz, but they're not the only beans on the block. When we recently put 16 baked beans products to the test in our review, there were plenty of other brands that tickled our expert testers' tastebuds.
In good news for those of us on a budget, bargain beans were among the favourites in our blind taste test
And in good news for those of us on a budget, bargain beans were among the favourites in our blind taste test.
In fact, a number of budget beans out-scored well-known brands, and even ranked higher than the most expensive beans in our test – it turns out money can't buy you taste!
Our expert taste testers rated each product on flavour, texture, appearance and smell, with flavour being the most important.
Here are the brands that are the winners if you're on a budget.
Black & Gold Baked Beans were the cheapest and equal-tastiest of the 16 products we reviewed.
The cheapest, tastiest baked beans: Black & Gold
In news that's sure to blow your bean-loving brain, this no-frills brand from IGA actually topped our taste test with a score of 79%, snaring first place for taste along with SPC.
It ranked higher than all the big brands, including Wattie's and Heinz, and at just 65 cents a tin (that's a tiny 15 cents per 100g), it's also the cheapest in our review.
It's more than three times cheaper than SPC, and nearly six times cheaper than the most expensive beans we tested.
Black & Gold beans are also second overall in our baked beans review, with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 79%, just one percentage point behind the top scorer Wattie's. (Taste is just one element of each brand's overall score; nutrition accounts for 30% of the CHOICE Expert Rating.)
Wattie's is a whisker ahead of the Black & Gold product for nutrition, with a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 4.5, to Black & Gold's 4. But an HSR of 4 is not to be sniffed at, so you can confidently buy Black & Gold knowing that it's a healthy option for your household.
Just be aware that Black & Gold has one of the highest sugar contents of all the beans we reviewed – which is not surprising given that added sugar can increase palatability. If you're trying to reduce your sugar intake you may want to look elsewhere.
They're a relatively healthy option as they provide plenty of fibre and count as one serving of vegetablesShadia Djakovic, CHOICE food expert and accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist
"On balance they're still a relatively healthy option, as they provide plenty of fibre and count as one serving of vegetables," says accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist and CHOICE food expert Shadia Djakovic.
"They're good to serve occasionally as part of a balanced diet if you need a quick and tasty meal – especially if you're trying to increase your kids' vegie intake without them complaining."
Coles Smart Buy Baked Beans.
Coles Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce.
The next-tastiest and cheapest beans: Coles
Bargain beans shone in our review, with two Coles products also performing strongly, scoring 77 and 76% and outperforming other better known brands.
And surprisingly the cheaper of Coles' two baked bean products actually came out ahead, with its Smart Buy product (26 cents per 100g) scoring one percentage point higher than its regular Coles Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (35 cents per 100g).
So you can get more beans for your buck without skimping on flavour!
Other beans for lean budgets
We also reviewed baked beans from Woolworths' and Aldi's own brands, but unfortunately they just couldn't match Black & Gold or Coles for taste.
Woolworths' and Aldi's own brands ... just couldn't match Black & Gold or Coles for taste
Aldi's Corale baked beans were the second-cheapest in our line-up, but unfortunately didn't impress our taste testers, who scored them just 64% for taste.
And Woolworths' own-brand beans were the next-cheapest but again didn't do much for our testers' palates, scoring 68% for taste.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.