Eating healthy doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem. There are ways to consume nutritious foods without having to spend a lot of time preparing them or having to break the bank. One viable option is canned foods. Many believe that the only way to eat healthy is to eat fresh, organic foods, but that just isn’t the case! Canned food is no less healthy than fresh, if you know which ones to pick and how to prepare them. Let’s go over the benefits of canned food, what you should be looking for, and some ideas for how to use them!
Benefits to Canned
When used correctly, canned food is very comparable to fresh in regard to nutritional value. Not only that, but canned food is significantly cheaper than the fresh kind. Fresh produce can be expensive, but you can get canned food for less than half the price. Canned food can also save you time when it comes to preparing meals. They are often already cut, chopped, or sliced, making it more convenient when cooking meals or having a snack. Lastly, canned foods have a much longer shelf life than fresh foods. Produce often spoils a week after you purchase it, whereas with canned foods, you can have them on-hand in your pantry for months. After opening, if you do not use the entire can, we recommend you store the extra in the fridge and use it within a week.
What to Look For
So what types of canned foods should we be looking for in order to get the most out of them? Well, we suggest that you go for canned foods that are advertised as “low sodium” or “no salt added”. Salt is often used as a preservative for these canned foods. If you cannot find canned foods with these characteristics, don’t worry! You can still remove excess salt by draining and rinsing the canned foods before cooking them or using them in your meals. Similarly, if you are choosing canned fruits, there may be added sugar, so we recommend looking for those with lower sugar content. On another note, we advise that you buy cans that are not dented, cracked, or bulging lids, and to look at the expiration date to make sure they have not been sitting on the shelves for a long time.
How to Use
Canned foods can be used in many ways, in many different dishes. Our favorite canned foods are beans, especially black beans and chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Black beans can easily be warmed in a skillet and added to any meal for an extra protein source. We love to roast chickpeas and add them to salads or even just to snack on! Foods such as canned diced tomatoes or corn kernels can be used right out of the can, and are also great to add to a salad, use in salsa, etc. Canned fruits, like mandarin oranges, sliced peaches, pineapple chunks, and more can be an easy snack to have on hand. Canned meat, most notably chicken, can be used in crockpot meals, chicken salad, and more.
All things considered, canned foods are a great option to make nutritious meals, for a fraction of the time and price. They are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. If you want more tips or recommendations when it comes to canned foods, click here to schedule a call with Alli.
This article was written by Emma Bulan, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.