17 Simple Canned Foods That Go the Distance
While I’m all about fresh, whole foods making up a large portion of my grocery budget, but the truth is that having canned foods on hand is a huge help when our family’s schedule gets out of control. When it does, there are certain canned foods I like to rely on in order to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. Here are 17 of our most commonly used ones. (See also: How to Organize Your Pantry and Save Cash)
1. Manwich Sauce
It can be used for tangy ground beef casserole with a cornbread topping or to whip up fast and easy sloppy Joes with brown lentils. Either way, it’s a great pantry staple that many of us in this country remember growing up with.
2. Baked Beans
As far as meat substitutions go, baked beans are one of the simplest and most affordable. Sure, it’s great to bake your own from dry pantry staples, but when there isn’t time, grabbing a large can off the shelf to heat up along with a green salad and a baked russet can make your life notably easier.
If you need a quick soup ingredient or want to jazz up your jalapeno cornbread, using canned corn is an easy answer. It also makes for a no-fuss dinner side and hearty salsa ingredient.
4. Black Beans
To create a stick-to-your-ribs mango salsa or hearty lunch burrito bowl, try using canned black beans from the pantry. A quick strain and rinse will have you dining in style without a long wait.
Great in flavored lattes, dinner casseroles, soups, and pies, canned pumpkin is a great food to keep in your pantry all year long. And during the holidays, be sure to indulge in your favorite recipes for sweetbreads, scones, and whoopie pies.
Rather than stress over power outages with your freezer, try using canned salmon for things like sandwich fillings, dinner patties, party dips, and more. It will store for a long time, is available affordably, and provides flexibility during chaotic work weeks.
7. Coconut Milk
When you’re looking for a fast alternative to takeout curry or need a dairy-free ingredient to make your soups creamy, consider coconut milk. It’s one of my favorite plant-based diet tricks for new vegans, and it has a great flavor.
Great on its own, in chili dogs, or to use as a topping for potatoes, chili is one of the more flexible canned foods you can choose. Purchasing the meatless variety is one of my favorite ways to eat vegan on the cheap, because it lets me enjoy the flavors I always used to before I reduced my meat intake.
9. Tomato Products
Keeping a supply of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes is something I’ve done for most of my adult life. It’s great for making homemade pizza sauce, jazzing up pot roast, and rounding out vegetable soup recipes.
10. Pie Filling
When you need a fast holiday pie, dump cake, or turnover filling, canned pie filling is a fantastic resource to have on hand. Available in flavors such as blueberry, apple, and cherry, it’s an open-and-dump solution for cooks on a tight schedule.
Purchasing seafood at the last minute can be problematic. That’s why having a few recipes for canned clams in your cooking repertoire is a good idea, especially when last-minute company comes by. Red clam pasta sauce, hot dips, and even clam fritters can be prepared with this canned food item.
If you’re a meat eater and you enjoy having more to your hurricane preparedness meal plan than cheese, crackers, and bottled iced tea, then you may want to consider adding some canned ham to your supply of pantry foods. It can be used to make breakfast fried rice, sandwiches, and even cold salads in summer.
Sure, homemade is what many prefer, but if you end up hosting Thanksgiving at the last minute or need to pull off Sunday dinner with limited time, a can of mushroom gravy will take you a long way. It’s also great when you want to do something with leftover steak tips and broccoli.
Preserved goods can also come in glass, and pickles are a great penny-pinching example of that. They are great for jazzing up sandwiches or enjoying on the side with a dinner of burgers or salmon patties.
I’ve used canned peaches in fruit salads, in cobblers, and even for salad add-ins. They're cheap and shelf stable, and they also work well in breakfast smoothies.
An affordable addition to any organic vegan grocery list, salsa is a very flexible condiment. Use it for dunking quesadillas, snacking on tortilla chips, or blended for an easy, fat free homemade salad dressing.
17. Kidney Beans
Purchasing the generic brand of these when shopping at Whole Foods makes buying organic groceries affordable for me. They are one of my most frequently purchased canned foods, and I use them for everything from red beans and rice to dinner salads and gourmet hummus.
It isn’t necessary to use canned foods for every single meal, but it is nice to know how to use them to make dinner happen quickly when you need to. These are some of my favorite resources for doing so. What are yours?