During the pandemic, many people have been turning to comfort foods to help self soothe during this unprecedented time. When I was a girl, my mom used to make me grilled cheese with tomato soup when I needed a pick me up. To me, this is one of the most comforting foods there is! In addition, many folks have also been stocking up on canned foods. When food budgets are tight and shopping trips are limited, canned foods are always there for you as an affordable and shelf-stable option. I’ve taken this opportunity to create some of my favorite comfort foods with a modern spin using canned vegetables. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and I do.
Why I Turn to Canned Foods
A well-stocked pantry of canned fruits and vegetables can help you serve up the recommended 42 cups of fruit and 53 cups of vegetables a family of four needs every week. About three-fourths of the population is not eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Canned foods help make healthy eating more convenient: when canned produce is incorporated into diets people tend to eat more fruits and vegetables!
A 2016 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics compared adults and kids who consume canned fruit and vegetables to those who don’t use cans and found that the adults and kids who consume canned fruit and vegetables get more energy, dietary fiber, choline, and potassium, and less fat and saturated fat.
In addition, kids and adults who used six or more canned foods per week are more likely to have diets higher in 17 essential nutrients, including potassium, calcium, and fiber. Americans diets are low in four important nutrients including fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend eating foods rich in these nutrients.
About the Canning Process
I have visited a cannery in Sacramento, California and saw firsthand how fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and canned within only four hours, sealing in their nutrition and flavor. The proximity of field to packaging facility, and the efficiency of modern canned facilities lock in nutrients at the peak of ripeness just hours after harvest. It is truly amazing to watch!
In addition, cans provide year-round access to seasonal fruits and vegetables and keep food fresh and flavorful without the need for preservatives and additives. Canned foods actually have similar – or better! – nutritional profiles as their fresh or frozen counterparts.
Feel Good About Canned Foods!
A well-stocked pantry filled with canned foods helps you get through the week with creative meals (like the one below!) you can feel good about serving to your family and friends. According to a survey of 1,000 moms with kids in the household, nearly half (49%) are likely to run out of food in their fridge on Thursday or earlier. Sixty-one percent frequently resort to takeout or go out to eat because they don’t have the ingredients on hand to make dinner. Now with the pandemic, stocking up on canned foods which have over 1,500 varieties, means that you don’t have to order in or head out to the market.
Canned foods also help Americans reduce the amount of perishable fruits and vegetables they purchase and then throw away. Most Americans toss approximately 15 to 20% of the fresh produce they purchase annually. During the canning process, waste like peels, cores, and other inedible plant matter, is removed and re-used as agricultural feed or compost.