When it comes to pantry secret weapons, canned food is at the top of the list. Why? It’s affordable, nutritious, and cooked and ready to eat. Whether you use canned food on its own (like in your favorite tuna and crackers lunch) or as a key ingredient (like adding canned pumpkin to chili or risotto), there are so many ways to cook with canned food that it’s time to get shopping and fill your pantry.
Types of Canned Food
Before you start stocking up on canned food, it’s a good idea to know the basics. Here are some of the most popular categories and what you can expect to find in each one.
- Vegetables: When you’re short on time, canned vegetables are an affordable option. Cranberry sauce is perfect to dress up fall meals (just sprinkle in orange zest for an added kick), and artichoke hearts are perfect for salads, pasta, and appetizer platters.
- Purées: Peeling, roasting, and puréeing vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato, and squash can be time consuming endeavors. Let the pros do the work and grab a can to enrich everything from soups to waffle batter.
- Fish: Tuna might be the most popular, but don’t discount lesser-known fish like mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. No matter which fish you choose, they come ready to eat. Just open the can and flake it into your salads, blend it up for a pâté, top your toast, or toss it with pasta.
- Beans: All kinds of beans are available in ready-to-eat cans or pouches. Choose from black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, and more. Most are cooked without seasonings, but you can also find refried beans cooked with ingredients like garlic, onion, and cilantro for added flavor. If you’re looking to limit your salt intake, be sure to choose low-sodium varieties.
Top Canned Food Brands
If you’re looking for the top canned food brands, Thrive Market has plenty to choose from.
For sustainably caught seafood, turn to Wild Planet. Its quality canned fish offerings, like salmon and tuna, can quickly boost your next meal. Instead of FAD fishing (a technique that results in lots of bycatch and can damage ecosystems), Wild Planet uses one pole to catch one fish. It’s more labor-intensive, but results in less bycatch, and small fish are easily released back into the sea to reduce overfishing.
Since 1999, Native Forest has grown its offerings from a single can of hearts of palm to essential ingredients like coconut milk, coconut milk powder, and artichoke hearts. The brand is committed to supporting the preservation of native South American rainforests, where ecologists and entrepreneurs work in tandem to create a sustainable system for harvesting and processing hearts of palm.
Just because you have a busy day shouldn’t mean you can’t come home to a comforting meal. Amy’s was started because one couple wanted to make it easier to get dinner on the table, and now they offer a range of options to do just that, including hearty lentil soups, spicy chili, and chunky vegetable soup.
Best Canned Fish
Canned fish is a food staple worth keeping around. Here are some of our top picks.
Wild Planet Wild Albacore Tuna, No Salt Added
To reduce mercury exposure, Wild Planet catches smaller tuna, making this fish a safe (and delicious) option. It’s packed with only a hint of sea salt, and versatile for lots of dishes from salads to appetizers.
Thrive Market Non-GMO Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you keep a tin of sardines on hand at all times, you’ll be ready for lunch at a moment’s notice. These fillets are sustainably caught, gluten-free, and kosher, and add the perfect amount of umami flavor to recipes. You can also enjoy them plain, atop crackers or toasted bread.
Safe Catch Canned Wild Pink Salmon
The salmon inside Safe Catch’s can has been hand-picked and tested for mercury so you can eat without worry. With 14 grams of protein per serving, it’s a great option to fuel your next meal.
Healthy Canned Beans
Protein, fiber, and other nutrients make beans a winner on the dinner table. They’re also gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
Amy’s Organic Refried Black Beans
Add this can of low-sodium refried black beans to your arsenal for an easy side dish. Black beans are blended with spices, cilantro, garlic, and onions for the perfect flavor.
Thrive Market Organic Pinto Beans
This pouch is filled with organic, non-GMO beans that have been grown, processed, and packed in the USA. Mash them up for quesadillas, add them to tacos and salads, or even put a handful into your next smoothie for an added nutritional boost (you won’t even taste them).
Thrive Market Organic Garbanzo Beans
Affordable and versatile, garbanzo beans are perfect for hummus, salads, and more. Each ½ cup serving delivers iron, calcium, vitamin C, and 6 grams of protein to help keep you full.
How to Cook With Canned Fish
Cooking with canned fish is easier than ever thanks to a great selection of seafood waiting in the wings.
Canned Fish Recipes
No need to scratch your head when it comes to cooking with canned fish. This post has 14 canned fish recipes to add to your weekly rotation.
Blackened Canned Fish Tacos Recipe
Turn up the heat with these Tex-Mex tacos that are generously seasoned with chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder.
Tuna Cakes With Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Elevate lunch with tuna cakes dipped in a spicy remoulade sauce. This zesty condiment is whisked with capers, cayenne, and grainy mustard for texture.