Canned Foods You Need in Your Pantry

Break out the can opener! These affordable products deliver nutrients and great flavor to recipes.

canned food recipes

Shoppers who don't have a cupboard filled with canned goods are missing out on great bargains. The foods are cheap and convenient—and in some cases have more nutrients than fresh varieties. Find out which ones belong in your kitchen.

  • PUMPKIN: Packed with vitamins and fiber, canned pumpkin is low in calories and fat and is delicious in both sweet and savory recipes. If you don't use the whole can, freeze leftovers in ½-or 1-cup servings for future recipes. Store in ziplock bags for up to three months. Recipe we love: Spicy Pumpkin Soup »
  • TOMATOES: Cooked tomatoes have more readily absorbed disease-fighting lycopene than fresh ones do. If you need diced tomatoes and canned whole ones are cheaper, use kitchen shears to dice the whole tomatoes right in the can. To make any dish heartier, do as Robyn Johnson does and add in diced tomatoes: "I put them in omelets with some light cheese and a bit of ham and Trader Joe's fire-roasted bell peppers and onions," she says. 
  • SALMON: Full of protein, all-important omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and calcium, the fish is already cooked and ready to eat. Wild salmon is healthier than farmed, but fresh is expensive. Canned wild salmon is a bargain at about $4.50 for 6 ounces, compared with $6.75 for fresh. Recipe we love: Salmon Burgers »
  • BEANS: It's hard to find a more versatile and healthy food in a can. Pick your favorite: Black, white, kidney—they're all full of protein, fiber, iron and more. The different types are mostly interchangeable. If you see one on sale, stock up and use it in your favorite dishes. Recipe we love: Corn, Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burritos »
  • PINEAPPLE: Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it's a great source of vitamin C, manganese and other nutrients. Buy pineapple that's packed in 100 percent juice. When you drain the fruit, save the juice and use it in a smoothie or in a marinade for pork. Recipe we love: Sweet and Spicy Pork with Pineapple »
  • CHICKEN: Reader Sharon Siekaniec uses it to make chicken salad. "I use Miracle Whip, diced celery, crushed red pepper and dried dill. Sometimes I have the chicken salad on bread, and other times I enjoy it with crackers."

On the other hand, some foods just don't hold up to canning—the texture suffers or the flavor fades, or both.

With these five foods, stick to frozen or fresh.

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Shrimp
  • Green beans