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  • Writer's pictureTanya H

The Great Bean-Off

In my various posts on vegan curries and slow-cooked beef on an open fire, I’ve been accused of being a bit too aspirational with my take on camp site food. I did also write about pre-made pancakes, but even that turned into a fancy stack layered with creamy yoghurt and topped with a berry coulis.

In order to show that I listen to my critics, I’m bringing my posts back to reality. This piece is dedicated to a hard and fast staple at many a camp site: baked beans.

No, I’m not going to tell you how to make your own baked beans delicately blended with chorizo and a fresh bouquet garni (I’ll save that for another gourmet article down the line). Instead, I’m going to compare the main brands of beans to help you decide which tin to tap when you’ve kicked your feet up and are ready to dine.

I do have to confess that I’ve been instantly drawn to the array of cans that have taken the baked bean and added bacon, BBQ sauce or given it the chili con carne once-over. But that’s all rather ornate, so I’ll make sure to stick to your standard tomato sauce bean.


Kicking off our tour of the humble baked bean, is an old favourite with an ad ditty that is an earworm-and-a-half.

For hungry little human beings, SPC’s Aussie-made baked beans come in 140g, 220g and mega-feast 425g tins.

There is a salt reduced option with 226mg of sodium per 100g. For those aiming for a low carb lifestyle, a tin of SPC contains 4.3% sugar.

Among the three tins in today’s bean-off, SPC has the least amount of sugar, and its salt reduced option also comes in at number 1 health-wise, so buying these beans is a pretty good option for all the family.

Cracking open an SPC can will reveal 50% navy beans, 26% tomato puree.


Originally from the UK, but currently made in New Zealand comes another favourite baked bean option from Heinz.

These come in 130g, 220g, 300g or 555g tins, which is a lot of options. Heinz has tried to make these various sizes more meaningful by calling its 220g tin “The one for one”, and its 300g tin “the one for two”. Though it doesn’t take much maths to understand that you’re going to get more bean on your fork if you and a mate each crack open your own “one for one”.

Heinz tins are 49% navy beans, 51% tomato sauce.

Sugar-wise, Heinz comes in at 4.7% sugar per tin, and a salt reduced version has 235mg of sodium per 100g beans. Both numbers are not bad if you’re watching your midsection.


Again made in New Zealand, Watties baked beans aren’t as common on the supermarket shelves as they once were, but that just adds an air of exoticism when you do spot a red tin amongst all the others.

While there is an array of Watties tin sizes across the Tasman, here in Australia we only seem to have access to the good old 420g tin, which will suffice nicely for a candlelit dinner for two.

Watties packs their tins with 51% navy beans and 49% tomato sauce, so you get the most bean in your tin with this brand. However that’s where the good news ends.

The sugar content on a tin of Watties is notably higher than the other two in our bean-off, coming in at 7.3%. There’s no reduced salt option with this brand, meaning a normal tin weighs in at 450mg of sodium per 100g. They are super tasty for a reason.

The simple tin of baked beans are easy to transport, available in every convenience store, full of fibre, and just plain delicious on a slab of freshly baked sourdough slathered with hand-churned butter from a neighbouring dairy… Sorry, it’s great on toast.

Baked beans. Keeping it real.

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