Dried peas, beans and lentils are classified as legumes. They are protein foods, or meat substitutes, and their place in the dietary is described in the chapter on the balanced ration.

They are all similar as to content and flavor and in nearly all cases may be used interchangeably. They should be soaked over night or for an equivalent time during the day, thoroughly picked over and washed, and then boiled. The addition of a little soda at this stage softens the hulls and makes the legumes more digestible.

All legumes may be boiled in salted water with or without the addition of herbs, onions, or a little garlic. However, fat should usually be added to reinforce the vegetable. This may be in the form of fat ham, fat salt pork, or bacon, fat corned beef, olive oil or the drippings from bacon, or sausage. After boiling until soft, any one may be put in a bean pot, together with molasses or brown sugar and pepper, and baked.

Different sections grow different legumes. Any housewife will profit by a visit to a large grocery store where she can see displayed and purchase legumes of various kinds. The "Navy or soup bean" is commonly used, as are lima beans and split peas. But the several varieties of kidney beans, the many kinds of cow peas, and soy beans are scarcely used at all, yet they furnish one of the cheapest sources of protein food that may be obtained.

The legumes need long slow cooking to render them digestible. A fireless cooker is excellent for this purpose.