Stock Your Pantry With These Canned Goods

With so many of the recipes you’ll discover on this blog, we talk about how we can use canned goods that we’ve already got stock in our pantry or larder. From canned anchovies for puttanesca sauce to chicken broth for matzoh ball soup, we’ve learned that stocking up on canned goods when they’re on sales makes a lot of sense. It makes cooking from home so much easier.

Another thing to keep in mind with canned fruit, vegetables, soup and more. You don’t have to pay for expensive, fancy brands. Store brands are just as good. In fact, sometimes going with the canned version of a store brand, you’ll be able to choose an organic option and it won’t break the bank.

canned goods including tuna in pantry
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Healthy Canned Goods

Before we get into the specific canned goods we think you’ll benefit from always having on hand, let’s address healthy options. Whenever possible we try to buy canned fruit in juice versus heavy syrup. The juice still provides sweetness without the extra calories and sugar of syrup.

Similarly, when buying vegetables, look for lower-sodium options. This is important if you’re watching your salt intake due to health conditions.

Also, with canned meats or seafood, water packed is your friend. When they come in oil, they’re just fattier and not as good for you. Besides, usually you drain all that liquid before using the tuna or chunked chicken. So there is no value to buying them with oil versus water.

Finally, when shopping, consider each product’s flexibility, cost, nutritional value and taste. Focus on snagging high-quality, versatile items so your pantry’s always stocked with what you need when you’re ready to cook. With a solid mix of canned veggies, fruits, proteins and soups, you’re set to tackle any kitchen task, from easy sides to fancy main dishes.

Protein-packed canned goods

Keep your meals balanced with canned proteins. These are easy to store and ready when you want quick, nutritious options.

  • Tuna: Lean, packed with omega-3s and versatile enough for recipes ranging from salads to pasta, canned tuna is a kitchen staple. Use it in something like this easy tuna noodle casserole.
  • Chicken: High-quality canned chicken is as good as fresh and perfect for fast salads or sandwiches, not to mention convenient for making canned chicken patties in a pinch.
  • Chickpeas: Ready to go for hummus, stews or wraps, canned chickpeas are a no-fuss protein and fiber source.
  • Beans: A powerhouse of protein and fiber, canned beans like black, white and kidney are very versatile. From salads to chili, they’ve got you covered.
  • Anchovies: If you like to make Italian dishes like our puttanesca sauce, then having anchovies on hand is a must.

Gena Lazcano who writes the Ginger Casa blog “always keeps canned tuna and salmon in my pantry for an easy way to get protein in,” she told me. “My kids love a simple tuna salad with mayo and pickles, and I love salmon croquettes in the air fryer. It’s helpful that the fish is already cooked and can be turned into a meal in minutes.”

Essential canned vegetables

Canned veggies are your go-to for easy, nutritious sides or meal additions. They’re perfect for throwing together quick dishes without sacrificing quality. Here are some of our must-stocks in our pantry.

  • Tomatoes: The MVP of canned goods, tomatoes are perfect for whipping up sauces, soups and stews. Whether diced, whole or crushed, they’re ready to elevate your cooking. Don’t feel like peeling tomatoes? No problem We keep whole, peeled tomatoes on hand at all times.
  • Corn: Canned at its peak, sweet corn keeps its flavor and crunch and is great for salsas, sides or mixing into dishes.
  • Green peas: With no shelling required, these are ready to pop into casseroles or serve as a simple green side.
  • Beets: Canned beets add earthy sweetness to salads, sides or pickles. They’re high in fiber, folate and potassium, making them a nutritious addition to any meal.

My blogger friend Anne Mauney, who is a registered dietitian and writes the fANNEtastic food blog loves keeping canned beets on hand for using in salads, homemade hummus and smoothies. I love canned beets on salad, too.

Convenient canned fruits

Canned fruits are a pantry must-have for a sweet addition to a recipe or as a healthy snack. They are versatile and offer year-round availability, unlike some fresh seasonal produce. Plus, it’s super convenient, says Jere’ Cassidy who writes the One Hot Oven blog. “I use peaches for making quick desserts like cobblers,” she says, “and canned pineapple to add to smoothies.”

  • Peaches: Sweet, nutritious and versatile, canned peaches can brighten up your meals, from snacks to desserts.
  • Pineapple: Bring a bit of the tropics into your kitchen with canned pineapple, which is great for baking, side dishes or salads.
  • Pears: Ready-to-eat, canned pears add a soft sweetness to desserts or savory dishes.
canned pears
Canned pears. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Soups and broths

Canned soups and broths are often an essential component of many recipes. Having a variety of soups and broths in your pantry means you’re always ready with a flavorful recipe base. 

  • Chicken broth: A versatile base for gravies, soups and stews, it is a flavorful, low-calorie comfort food on its own.
  • Tomato soup: Creamy, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart, tomato soup pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese or as a recipe base.
  • Vegetable soup: With a mix of veggies, canned vegetable soup is a fast, fiber-rich meal option, perfect when time is tight.

Canned dairy goods

Stock up your pantry with canned dairy products for an easy, shelf-stable way to add creaminess and richness to your meals. These versatile dairy options are perfect for cooking, baking or even as a standalone.

  • Condensed milk: A sweet, thickened milk ideal for making luscious desserts or adding a creamy touch to your coffee. Its sweetness and texture can elevate any sweet dish.
  • Evaporated milk: With a more concentrated flavor than regular milk, evaporated milk is great for cooking and baking, adding depth to sauces, soups and even your morning cup of coffee.
  • Coconut milk: Canned coconut milk is a must-have, especially for households that minimize dairy consumption. It’s a cornerstone in curries, soups and desserts, offering a rich, creamy consistency and a hint of coconut sweetness. We’ve used coconut milk to make vegan versions of our sugar cookie recipe.

Final thoughts

Stocking your pantry with a variety of canned goods is your secret weapon for whipping up meals in no time. With everything from versatile veggies and proteins to handy fruits and dairy, you have all the ingredients for endless meal possibilities right at your fingertips.

It’s all about making cooking easier and more fun, ensuring you’re ready for anything — whether it’s a last-minute dinner or a creative recipe idea. Curate your pantry’s canned goods collection with favorites and essentials so you can transform meal prep from a chore into something easy and fun.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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