Canned tomatoes are a staple in dietitian Kim Galeaz’s pantry. Here’s why she thinks that this staple is great for around-the-clock eating while being perfect for every occasion.
Can you guess what item in Kim Galeaz’s pantry is so versatile that it works for every around-the-clock eating occasion, from breakfast, lunch and dinner, to snack party-time?
Canned tomatoes and all their forms: Diced. Petite diced. Diced with chilies. Crushed. Whole. Sauce. Salsa. Pizza sauce.
Versatility is just part of the reason Kim’s pantry is filled with numerous canned tomato products. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, her goal is to create recipes that blend great taste with good nutrition while being budget-friendly and nutrient-rich. That goal is easily met with canned tomato products because they are extremely nutritious, affordable, tasty and best of all, available all year long.
Kim particularly loves that canned tomatoes are actually more fresh than fresh red tomatoes. Why? Because canned tomatoes are picked and packed at their peak, then make it in that can within HOURS. All the nutrients are retained, making canned tomatoes a nutritious choice for almost any meal.
You don’t have to break the budget to enjoy a healthful meal! From tomato sauce to canned peas, here are the best budget-friendly foods for the pantry.
Eating healthy does not need to be expensive. There are great options to make a complete and wholesome meal at home using canned goods. A complete meal consists of at least half the plate filled with vegetables, a protein source (fish, chicken, etc.), and a grain/starch source (beans, corn, peas, rice, pasta, etc).
Canned goods offer a variety of affordable, pre-cooked or ready-to-eat ingredients, perfect for an easy-to-make meal. Pantry items are great because you can stock up and have them whenever needed. Canned goods are also nutritious and offer plenty of benefits that come from fresh produce/protein sources.
The best pantry items and how to use them
Benefits: Tomatoes offer a multitude of benefits, but canned tomatoes specifically, are an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant which is shown to lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
How to Use: Canned tomatoes can be used to make things like pasta sauce, soup, or chili. To make a chili, combine canned tomatoes, canned beans, and canned carrots. Add some spices, and you have yourself a delicious, complete meal.
Cost: *Cost range for a 14.5 oz can: $0.69- $2.49
Benefits: Canned tomatoes offer an excellent source of calcium and iron. Calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth. Iron is important for brain function and immune support.
How to Use: Tomato paste is a great way to add flavor to almost anything you cook. It can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles, homemade sauces like spaghetti sauce or barbecue sauce, marinades for meats, grain dishes, and even tomato juice.
Cost: *Cost range for a 6 oz can: $0.79- $0.89
Benefits: Canned tomato sauce contains a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Vitamin C is important because it enhances the absorption of iron and improves the immune system. Fiber and potassium aid in healthy bowel movements and helps lower blood pressure.
How to Use: Tomato sauce is so versatile and can be used for a number of things. Tomato sauce makes a great base for pizzas and pasta. This can also be used to replace tomato paste in some recipes.
Cost: *Cost range for a 8 oz can: $0.39-$0.49
Benefits: The great thing about canned vegetables is that they are so affordable and sometimes even healthier than fresh vegetables. Canned vegetables are picked at peak season for freshness which ensures the best flavor and nutrient quality. They are naturally low in fat and calories and have no cholesterol. Canned veggies are convenient and save time because they are ready to eat.
How to Use: Canned vegetables can be used in recipes like soups, stir fries, and stews, or they can be eaten on their own. There are a variety of canned vegetables like carrots, green beans, beets, spinach, and mixed vegetables.
How to make canned vegetables even healthier
When purchasing canned vegetables look for items that say ‘reduced sodium’. When you are ready to eat your canned goods, you can also drain and rinse them to reduce the amount of salt.
Benefits: Canned beans offer very similar nutritional benefits to dried beans. They are a great source of fiber and protein, especially for plant-based diets. Beans are also high in folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
How to Use: Canned beans can be used in chili, salads, hummus, dips, or even heated up and enjoyed on their own. Similar to canned vegetables, it is best to find reduced sodium options and also drain and rinse them before using.
Cost: *Cost range for a 15 oz can: $0.69-$2.59
Canned Corn or Peas
Benefits: Corn and peas are a great starchy vegetable to have in your pantry. Starchy vegetables are higher in carbohydrates when compared to other non-starchy vegetables, and are included as part of a healthy diet.These items are rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Similar to other canned vegetables, they are low in fat and calories.
How to Use: They can both be used for side dishes, soups, and stews. Canned corn is great for cornbread, casseroles, and dips/salsa.
Cost: *Cost range for a 15 oz can: $0.79-$1.59
Canned Tuna, Salmon, and Chicken
Benefits: Protein is a very important component of a complete meal and typically the most expensive. But canned options make the protein more affordable and convenient. Canned proteins like tuna, salmon, and chicken are excellent protein sources. They provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Canned tuna is extremely rich in vitamin D which is necessary for bone health and the immune system.
Canned salmon is rich in healthy omega-3 fats, which is amazing for heart and brain health. Canned chicken is an excellent source of lean protein and is rich in vitamins and minerals like zinc and magnesium.
How to Use: All of these items can be used in salads, sandwiches, dips, casseroles, pastas, grain dishes, served with crackers, or enjoyed on their own.
Cost: *Prices will vary
Canned or Boxed Soup
Benefits: Canned and boxed soups are a fantastic complete meal. Many soups are packed with protein, vegetables, and a starch, for an affordable price. Many soups are rich in vitamins and fiber. Canned soups are great for busy days and are extremely convenient because they only require heating. *Bonus: Many canned soups use tomatoes in the broth which increases the nutritional value of the soup and keeps it at a lower calorie range when compared to cream-based soups.
How to Use: Different canned soups include: tomato soup, vegetable soup, split pea soup, lentil soup, chicken noodle soup, and more. Make sure to pick reduced sodium options for better health benefits. Broth-based soups generally tend to be lower in calories versus cream-based soups. Choose soups with a chicken, vegetable, or tomato-based broth.
Cost: *Prices will vary
Benefits: Fresh fruit can be expensive and more time consuming when peeling and cutting is involved. Canned fruit is a wonderful quick and easy option. Like canned vegetables, canned fruit is lower in fat and contains no cholesterol. They are full of vitamins and minerals and just as beneficial as fresh fruit.
Pro-tip: The most important thing to note when purchasing canned fruit is the liquid used in the can. Look for 100% juice or water options to minimize the amount of sugar consumed. Refrain from buying canned fruit in syrup (this has added sugar).
How to Use: Canned fruit can be used in salads, pies, smoothies, oatmeal, enjoyed on its own, and much more.
Cost: *Cost range for a 15 oz can: $0.99-$2.19
*All prices are based on the Los Angeles, California area.
The perfect comfort meal especially for colder weather. This Crockpot Vegan Chickpea, Sweet Potato, and Cauliflower Tikka Masala is packed with flavor and great for plant-based diets. This is a delicious way to use your canned tomatoes and beans.
This vegan Crockpot Garbanzo Bean & Vegetable Curry Stew is packed with antioxidants, plant-based protein, and so easy to make. The ginger, cumin, and turmeric provide a lot of immune support to keep us healthy and strong. Whether it be a busy day or a chilly night, this meal is hearty, savory, and warming.
Roasted Tofu with Harissa Sauce is an incredibly healthy vegan dish full of 7 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein per serving. Harissa is a North African chili sauce easy to make and bursting with flavor. Add the sauce to chicken, beef, fish, pork, vegetables, or grains such as rice, couscous, or quinoa, for lots of good eats.
This recipe is the perfect side dish to any meal. It is savory and different from the standard sauerkraut because it uses tomato sauce. Croatian Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics which aids in healthy gut and provides strong immune support.
The perfect hearty meal with delicious Italian flavors. This Italian Sausage Rigatoni offers a variety of vegetables and includes both protein and carbs. And you can make it in just 30 minutes for a complete meal.
This Easy Paella Recipe is done in less than 45 minutes and will leave you feeling like you went to a Spanish restaurant. The recipe is infused with so much flavor and can be customized with many different items. It’s a complete meal in one dish.
We all have those days where we really don't feel like cooking, but don't want to go out and buy food. This simple Green Bean Medley With Tuna Salad is the perfect way to use what you already have in your pantry and prepare in just 5 minutes.
Looking for a recipe that’s packed with color and protein? This Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole uses a lot of items you might already have in your pantry, making it convenient and cost-friendly. It is super simple and great for busy days. *You can substitute canned green beans for frozen broccoli to use what’s in your pantry.
Canned tomato products have gained pandemic popularity for good reason. Give these tried and true pantry staples a fresh look.
Canned tomato products are more popular than ever! All it took was a pandemic to clear every last can—diced tomatoes, tomato puree, sauce, salsa, marinara sauce—from supermarket shelves across the country. It’s no surprise really. Our reality has been shaken—especially the way we eat. Our new normal is cooking in and shopping less frequently, which means we rely on longer-lasting, shelf-stable foods—like canned tomato products—more than we ever have. So just like that, the wallflower of supermarket shelves is now the darling, helping us dish up delicious and nutritious meals that are not only convenient but economical. Of course, this has been true for generations of families who have relied on them, just like an old friend. Now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at what canned tomato products have to offer and enjoy what’s new again.
In the early days of the pandemic, it threw a shock to the food supply system.
Preserving tomatoes and other produce is a part of our history. For generations we’ve preserved tomatoes and other produce, capturing the season’s harvest to enjoy all year! It’s no surprise that the largest surges in U.S. canning history came in times of crisis—the two world wars. This history and tradition of canned tomatoes continues today as we rely upon and enjoy their long shelf life, convenience, and versatility.
Not only is it much easier to purchase canned tomatoes straight off supermarket shelves, it’s the best way—shy of picking them fresh from the summer garden—to enjoy them in terms of flavor and nutrition all year long. Farmers harvest them at peak ripeness in the field, then whisk them to a nearby processing plant where they are canned within four hours’ time, preserving and intensifying sun-ripened flavor and all those healthy nutrients.
We’re eating at home more, which means we have complete control when it comes to eating healthier. One of the places Americans fall short in terms of nutrition is the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat. A healthy eating pattern, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, includes a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy, and other—and recommends tomato products as a source of intake for red and orange vegetables. Tomato products are the easy vegetable; it’s so easy to pack in a serving of veggies with tomato sauce, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes.
Tomato products play a key role in a Mediterranean-style diet—a way of eating that’s been linked with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, certain types of cancer, obesity, and more. Med up your diet with tomato products—canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce are a part of so many Mediterranean dishes from pasta and pizza to ratatouille, beans, soup, and fish.
Get Back to Basics
A surplus of time has stirred a curiosity in the kitchen that’s taken many of us back to the basics. Cooking from scratch, like baking, churning butter, and making pasta, has not only rescued many of us from boredom, it’s taught us how simple and superior these foods can be. When it comes to canned tomatoes, they have saved many a meal during this pandemic. Canned tomato products open the door to homemade without the hassle. No fresh tomatoes? Open up a can of whole, diced, or crushed tomatoes to use instead. Many recipes are even better when made with canned tomatoes. No jarred salsa? No problem. Give Mango Salsa a try. Out of ketchup? A snap with canned tomato products, like this easy recipe for Spicy Sweet Tomato Jam. Make these homemade pantry regulars once and you may never go back to premade. Search for recipes at Tomato Wellness, line up your canned tomatoes, and be amazed. Quick, convenient, delicious, so much cheaper, plus the satisfaction of doing this yourself!
Turn down the news and turn to comfort foods. If there’s ever been a time to give ourselves a little extra love, it’s now. Canned tomatoes are comfort in a can. Their umami-rich flavor brings the soothing feel-good effect we all need. Velvety smooth tomato soup with a slice of warm, crusty bread, sloppy joes sandwiched in a soft bun, or a plate of vegetable lasagna—meals that warm heart and soul as they take us back to cherished memories and create new ones as well. Make a big batch—go ahead and double the recipes—and enjoy leftovers for more quick and easy meals during the week or freeze for later. Definitely consider using a slow-cooker or instant pot when you want a no-hassle meal—just add the ingredients to the pot and let it do all the work. Bonus: with canned tomatoes, there’s no washing, peeling, chopping, or fuss. Now that’s comfort—canned tomato style.
Cue into Cultural Cuisine
Travel plans are on hold for a while, but why not tap into those dream destinations with food? We can’t visit Paris right now, but you can bring it a little bit closer by whipping up a veggie quiche with tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers. You’ll quickly discover the top tier role tomatoes play in traditional diets around the globe. They’ve been brightening our favorite meals with a splash of robust red and packing health promoting nutrients that help boost nutrition and reduce risk of chronic disease. From American Southwest to Latin America to Mediterranean, bring these international culinary gems into your kitchen. A few ways you can eat the globe and experience the world of food culture:
Italian—Classic Tomato Sauce—served with pasta, on Arugula Salad Pizza, or over veggie patties, or
Bruschetta—tomato on crunchy bread with garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil
Mediterranean—Greek Salad—tomatoes, greens, Kalamata olives, and capers, or Tomato Hummus—tomatoes, chickpeas, tahini, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, and spices
It’s so nice to welcome canned tomato products back home—into our pantries and our home cooking. They are the silver (okay, metal!) tried and true lining in our current pandemic, helping us through our current challenge, but also reminding us of what truly matters.
Did you know that a can of tomatoes gets dinner on the table? Read on to learn more about how canned tomatoes are a convenient, nutritious, and easy way to incorporate lycopene into your weekly menu.
We often hear that “fresh is best,” but did you know that canned options are not only convenient, but also offer similar health benefits as fresh fruits and vegetables? While there are hundreds of varieties of canned foods available, today I’d like to applaud canned tomatoes for their versatility. A simple can of tomatoes can help provide you with all the inspiration you need to get a delicious, healthy meal on the dinner table in minutes. Some of my favorite tomato-rich dishes include soups, stews, casseroles, and pasta dishes.
While canned products often have the reputation of being high in sodium, consumers today are offered a variety of low-sodium options, such as reduced sodium canned tomatoes, marinara sauce, tomato sauce, salsa, and tomato soup. So you don’t have to worry about upping your salt intake when you feature tomato-centric dishes on your menu.
Tomato products are also packed in nutrients, such as fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Research also shows that when tomatoes are heated—as they are in canned and processed tomatoes—the powerful antioxidant lycopene is more bioavailable in the body.
You can stock up on tomato products—canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, tomato paste, salsa, tomato juice, tomato soup—to kickstart your meal because they have a long shelf life. Canned tomatoes are also versatile since they fit well in a variety of delicious, ethnic recipes. If you aren’t already incorporating canned tomatoes into your recipes, it’s time to get started with three of my favorite plant-powered recipes.
This Chipotle Tomato Rice Power Bowl calls upon a great foundation of zesty tomato rice, then builds upon it with Latin-inspired toppings, such as greens, black beans, corn, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and tomatoes.
The secret to good cooking and healthy eating? All it takes is having the right tool for the job. Putting the right ingredients to work makes your job easy, so make canned tomatoes great again with these tips and tricks.
Canned tomatoes may sound like old news, but their savory umami and versatility in the kitchen make them indispensable in your pantry. Sure, plant-powered eating often thrives on a DIY attitude and recipe hacks. Canning your own tomatoes is fabulous, but many of us lack access to fresh tomatoes during in-season or are otherwise unable to embark on such a project. Canned tomatoes are one of those convenience products that save you time, yet don’t compromise your values of healthful food or environmentalism.
Not to mention the expense! You can find canned tomato products at inexpensive prices year-round, whereas the fluctuating prices of fresh tomatoes can be an obstacle to a tight food budget.
Each serving of these products adds to your daily vegetable tally. Look for those with minimal added salt and sugar to maximize their nutrition. Tomatoes in all of their forms feature vitamins C and A, and other plant compounds, like lycopene which has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Read on to learn how to make canned tomatoes new again.
Check out these 6 tips for a fresh take on canned tomatoes:
1. Go artisan. Always having a can or two of tomato paste on-hand enables you to get creative and make your very own artisan sauces. How about a curry-inspired ketchup or sriracha-style sauce for your veggie burger? Or a fancy ketchup that incorporates horseradish or balsamic vinegar for your veggie kabobs on the grill. Try something new with canned diced tomatoes in this savory grain porridge of Tomato Basil Steel Cut Oats.
2. Impress your last-minute guests. Toss a can of diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and fresh or dried Italian herbs with a little olive oil, and all you have to do is run out for a fresh baguette. You suddenly have a fancy bruschetta appetizer! Even better, opt for a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes. Those grill marks will really have your friends thinking you spent all afternoon poring over the grill!
3. Spice up your routine. Have you noticed all the varieties of canned tomatoes available now? A can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes or with added green chilies become the perfect accessory to tacos, nachos, or this Tortilla Soup. A can of crushed tomatoes with minced garlic, bell pepper, and oregano is the best base for marinara sauce smothered over your lasagna or pizza.
4. Too hot to cook? We all need more meal ideas for the hot summer days that come anytime during spring through fall. Enjoy a no-cook recipe that you can make whether fresh tomatoes are in-season or not. Cold tomato soup, or gazpacho, can be as simple as a bruschetta recipe but with an additional splash of flavorful vinegar. You can keep it simple or add toppings like diced bell pepper and cucumber, croutons, chickpeas, fresh sliced avocado, or fresh herbs. Make this Easy Gazpacho and serve in shot glasses for a fun appetizer.
5. Easy as (pizza) pie. With minced garlic and olive oil, simmer a can of crushed tomatoes in thick puree, or crushed tomatoes with basil and oregano, and you will have stellar marinara sauce in no time. With a sauce this easy, you can jump on that homemade pizza trend and focus your attention on the toppings and inventive crusts made from cauliflower or polenta.
6. Up your roasting game. Thin out canned tomato paste with just a little water, then use to coat your roasting vegetables before popping into the oven. Naturally occurring sugars and umami flavors in the tomato are a great way to season your food without adding oil or salt, give it a try!