Are your pantry shelves starting to look a bit shiny? Have your grocery bags been weighed down more than usual with heavy little round items? Does your kitchen look like a food bank? Yup, we’re all stocking up on canned food right now. People are buying up food at a rapid rate—so rapid that there may not be enough truck drivers to meet the supply and demand rate, and many stores are closing earlier to give staff time to restock shelves, according to this article. One thing we’re reaching for a lot is canned food. Perhaps it’s for the very reasons I just mentioned that could interrupt the food supply chain. If we can’t buy food for a while, we want to make sure that the stuff we do have will last us. Some simply don’t want to go to the stores, for fear of infection, though they aren’t necessarily afraid of a food shortage. They could, of course, just turn to ordering online, but those systems are currently overwhelmed.
Fortunately, most experts say that there will be no food shortage. In fact, the USDA reported that the supply of many staples like cheese and poultry have increased in warehouses across the country this year. “But, this always happens,” my father-in-law said at dinner last night. I won’t state his age, but I’ll say that he’s seen a couple of pandemics and national crisis in his time. “There is always a run on the stores. And the shelves are restocked again,” he said.
My point is that, you may find yourself with a surplus of canned foods on your hand, the realization that you don’t need to continue hoarding them, and the understanding that you better do something with them to create more space in your kitchen. And, you may not have to eat them cold, from the can, in the dark, the way your dramatic post-apocalyptic fantasy dictated. You can actually make something good with them. Here are healthy and tasty canned food recipes.
If you have a can of spinach, a can of chicken or veggie broth, a can of kidney beans, and a jar of spaghetti o’s, you can make minestrone soup. The spaghetti o’s can substitute for the typical fresh noodles and tomato paste you’d add to this hearty soup. And the canned spinach will add some nice greens while the kidney beans add protein and fiber.
Cowboy salsa consists of little more than corn, black beans, green onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. If you have canned diced tomatoes you can add these, too. You can also make use of the current avocado surplus in stores and add chunks of avocado for a nutritious and filling snack.
You can make flavorful and healthy vegetarian curry if you have canned coconut milk, canned tomato paste, canned chickpeas, canned veggie or chicken broth, and canned vegetables such as carrots and peas. Just sautee a little garlic and onion in a big pot before adding the other ingredients, toss in curry powder, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Then pour it over some of that rice you’ve probably stockpiled.
Veggie pot pie
Not sure what to do with all those cans of diced carrots, peas, and string beans? What about that canned gravy? Or cream of mushroom? And those canisters of pastry dough? Why not put them together to make a creamy and nutritious vegetable pot pie? You can add chunks of chicken or crumbled beef or turkey if you want more protein.
Yams and beans
This is a simple but highly nutritious snack. If you have a surplus of canned yams and black beans, those two items go surprisingly well together, and both offer tons of fiber, plus the beans offer protein. You can also dump your favorite jar of red or green salsa over this mixture for a spice kick.
You likely have several of the things you’d find in this French salad. Tuna, canned string beans, canned olives, canned corn, sardines…Dump it all on top of your preferred lettuce like romaine or spring mix, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and you have yourself a rather substantial and fancy entrée salad.
Stuffed bell peppers
You can put many of the canned foods you’ve stockpiled inside your baked bell peppers. Put canned chili inside of these, drizzle with cheese, and bake. Or, put canned beans and corn in them. Did you buy spam? Crumble it and fry it up the way you would with ground turkey, and put this inside your bell peppers.
Chili on eggs
We personally bought too many cans of chili in our household and are trying to figure out what to do with them. One way to mix things up is to make a Southern-inspired Chilaquiles by having your chili with some sunny-side-up eggs and tortillas. Add green onions or avocado for a little extra flavor.
White bean salad
If you stocked up on white beans, you can make a simple and tasty white bean salad. Just put your beans in a bowl with a little red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped red onions, and parsley. You can add feta cheese or diced tomatoes if you have these.
To switch things up from all the canned chili and tuna, you may have purchased some canned salmon. And now you don’t know what to do with it. Treat it the way you would crab in crab cakes and make delicious salmon cakes. You can use bread crumbs or panko crumbs for a gluten-free variety, and dip them in sweet and sour sauce.
Baked pumpkin goods
If you have some cans of pureed pumpkin lying around, there are a lot of baked goods you can make with these. Blend the bumpkin into your sugar cookie batter, add a layer over brownie batter (perhaps with another layer of cream cheese) before baking, or make delicious pumpkin bread that you can top with whipped cream and enjoy with coffee.
Steak and mushrooms
It can be hard to know what to do with canned mushrooms, but here’s a tasty idea: heat them up and combine them with caramelized onions. Add this mixture on top of your steak for a tasty steak and mushrooms dinner. If you’d prefer to avoid red meat, you can put the same mixture over baked chicken.
Cream of mushroom pasta
Maybe you’re looking at your canned cream of mushroom soup and thinking that it doesn’t look too appetizing, just as soup. That’s okay. Pour it over cooked pasta and you instantly have creamy mushroom pasta. Or, pour this soup over baked chicken for a moist chicken dish.
Sardine potato gratin
Have more tins of sardines than you know what to do with? Sardines taste delicious in a lot of potato dishes, bringing a pop of flavor to an otherwise bland food. Layer pieces of sardine into your potato gratin for a salty, creamy, hearty side dish. You barely need to add salt once you’ve added your sardines.
When you think fish tacos, you may just think about red snapper or cod, but sardines are surprisingly good inside of tortillas. Just fry them up, and put them in a tortilla with a little lemon juice, mayonnaise, avocado, sliced radishes, salt, and pepper.