Cooking with Cans
There are many advantages to using canned foods that you may not have considered before. Let’s look at some of the benefits that result from use of affordable, shelf-stable, nutrition and versatile canned foods in your everyday meals.
There is a common misconception that canned foods fall short of the nutrient content supplied by their fresh and frozen equivalents. Fortunately, this isn’t the case! Both fruits and vegetables are harvested from the field at peak ripeness, then quickly transported to the canning facility where they are sorted, washed, processed and canned in a relativity short amount of time. For this reason, they are often exposed to fewer of the elements that may diminish sensitive vitamins and minerals, such as light and heat.
Canned foods, such as fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish are generally less costly per unit than their fresh and frozen counterparts. Balancing the fresh items on your shopping list with a variety of shelf-stable canned foods helps you spend less and also gives you a better chance at reducing food waste. As one would imagine, the majority of food wasted by households in the U.S. is fresh produce and other highly perishable foods like meats and dairy.
Keeping your pantry stocked with key canned ingredients is an easy way to ensure delicious and nutritious family meals happen regularly in your home. When stored properly, most are safe to eat for years, so it doesn’t hurt to maintain a robust inventory for the space you have. Our top picks for quick meals include canned tuna, salmon and chicken, a variety of beans or lentils, broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, fruits and vegetables.
Beans are a perfect example of how using canned foods can save you time in the kitchen. Cooking dried beans from scratch often requires much advanced planning, whereas canned beans are ready to eat right from the can after a quick drain and rinse. As for fruits and vegetables, the steps of washing, slicing and dicing is already done for you and they are ready to incorporate right into your meal. Canned foods may also help to reduce the intimidation factor of some produce that you might not purchase in their fresh form, such as artichokes or beets, due to the difficulty of prep.
What about the sodium?
If sodium is a concern, choose canned foods that call out No Added Sodium, Low Sodium, Less Sodium, Reduced Sodium on the label to find better options with less salt per serving. If a lower-sodium variety isn’t available, drain and rinse foods like beans and vegetables that are often packed in a salted juice or brine.
For more ways to include canned foods in your diet, recipe ideas or to have your questions answered, email the Weis Dietitians at email@example.com