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Canned Goods To Always Have In Your Pantry

Stocking your pantry with canned goods is a clever hack for fast meals, making life easier whether you’re short on time or facing an emergency. It’s a game-changing move that blends convenience, shelf-life and nutrition to always keep you prepared.

Three canned goods open on a wooden table.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Navigating the canned goods aisle can be overwhelming, but with a few tips, you’ll be stocking your pantry like a pro. Look for low-sodium options and those packed in water or natural juices to keep your meals healthy. Remember, the key to a well-stocked pantry is variety — this way, you’ll always have the building blocks for a nutritious and delicious meal, no matter what the day throws at you.

When shopping, consider each product’s flexibility, cost, nutritional value and taste. Focus on snagging high-quality, versatile items so your pantry’s always stocked with what you need when you’re ready to cook. With a solid mix of canned veggies, fruits, proteins and soups, you’re set to tackle any kitchen task, from easy sides to fancy main dishes.

Protein-packed cans

Keep your meals balanced with canned proteins. These are easy to store and ready when you want quick, nutritious options.

  • Tuna: Lean, packed with omega-3s and versatile enough for recipes ranging from salads to pasta, canned tuna is a kitchen staple. Use it in something like this easy tuna noodle casserole.
  • Chicken: High-quality canned chicken is as good as fresh and perfect for fast salads or sandwiches, not to mention convenient for making canned chicken patties in a pinch.
  • Chickpeas: Ready to go for hummus, stews or wraps, canned chickpeas are a no-fuss protein and fiber source.
  • Beans: A powerhouse of protein and fiber, canned beans like black, white and kidney are very versatile. From salads to chili, they’ve got you covered.

“I always keep canned tuna and salmon in my pantry for an easy way to get protein in. My kids love a simple tuna salad with mayo and pickles, and I love salmon croquettes in the air fryer. It’s helpful that the fish is already cooked and can be turned into a meal in minutes.”

— Gena Lazcano, Ginger Casa

Recipes Made With Canned Ingredients

Essential canned vegetables

Canned veggies are your go-to for easy, nutritious sides or meal additions. They’re perfect for throwing together quick dishes without sacrificing quality.

  • Tomatoes: The MVP of canned goods, tomatoes are perfect for whipping up sauces, soups and stews. Whether diced, whole or crushed, they’re ready to elevate your cooking.
  • Corn: Canned at its peak, sweet corn keeps its flavor and crunch and is great for salsas, sides or mixing into dishes.
  • Beets: Canned beets add earthy sweetness to salads, sides or pickles. They’re high in fiber, folate and potassium, making them a nutritious addition to any meal.
  • Green peas: With no shelling required, these are ready to pop into casseroles or serve as a simple green side.
A group of cans of food.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

“My favorite canned item to keep on hand is beets because they are delicious and nutrition-packed, too. Roasting fresh beets takes a while and can be messy, so buying them canned is a big time saver. Canned beets are great on salads, homemade hummus and smoothies.”

— Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, fANNEtastic food

Convenient canned fruits

Canned fruits are a pantry must-have for a sweet addition to a recipe or as a healthy snack. They are versatile and offer year-round availability, unlike some fresh seasonal produce.

  • Peaches: Sweet, nutritious and versatile, canned peaches can brighten up your meals, from snacks to desserts.
  • Pineapple: Bring a bit of the tropics into your kitchen with canned pineapple, which is great for baking, side dishes or salads.
  • Pears: Ready-to-eat, canned pears add a soft sweetness to desserts or savory dishes.

“Keeping canned peaches and canned pineapple in my pantry is incredibly convenient. I use peaches for making quick desserts like cobblers and canned pineapple to add to smoothies.”

— Jere’ Cassidy, One Hot Oven

Soups and broths

Canned soups and broths are often an essential component of many recipes. Having a variety of soups and broths in your pantry means you’re always ready with a flavorful recipe base. 

  • Chicken broth: A versatile base for gravies, soups and stews, it is a flavorful, low-calorie comfort food on its own.
  • Tomato soup: Creamy, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart, tomato soup pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese or as a recipe base.
  • Vegetable soup: With a mix of veggies, canned vegetable soup is a fast, fiber-rich meal option, perfect when time is tight.

Canned dairy essentials

Stock up your pantry with canned dairy products for an easy, shelf-stable way to add creaminess and richness to your meals. These versatile dairy options are perfect for cooking, baking or even as a standalone.

  • Condensed milk: A sweet, thickened milk ideal for making luscious desserts or adding a creamy touch to your coffee. Its sweetness and texture can elevate any sweet dish.
  • Evaporated milk: With a more concentrated flavor than regular milk, evaporated milk is great for cooking and baking, adding depth to sauces, soups and even your morning cup of coffee.
  • Coconut milk: Canned coconut milk is a must-have, especially for households that minimize dairy consumption. It’s a cornerstone in curries, soups and desserts, offering a rich, creamy consistency and a hint of coconut sweetness.

Final thoughts

A shelf with cans of food.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Stocking your pantry with a variety of canned goods is your secret weapon for whipping up meals in no time. With everything from versatile veggies and proteins to handy fruits and dairy, you have all the ingredients for endless meal possibilities right at your fingertips. It’s all about making cooking easier and more fun, ensuring you’re ready for anything — whether it’s a last-minute dinner or a creative recipe idea. Curate your pantry’s canned goods collection with favorites and essentials so you can transform meal prep from a chore into something easy and fun.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this article, made available via Food Drink Life, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The content presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or dietary changes. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.


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