Although there are divergent points of view on whether or not we should be eating foods which have been canned, there are times when eating foods from the can is the only alternative. It’s either that or go hungry! In times of power outages, on camping trips and when unable to get out to a store for any reason, canned foods can provide sustenance until fresh foods can be obtained. Other times, our hectic lifestyles prevent us from preparing fresh meals so it is easier (and quicker!) to reach in the cupboard for a can of ready-made food that we can literally eat on the run. Canned foods have a shelf life up to a couple years long and can be found to provide nutrients from literally every food group on the USDA food pyramid.
Balance Taste With Necessity
When trying to determine the best foods ready to eat from the can, you will want to balance taste with necessity. You can ask any child what they want for dinner and six out of seven days they will tell you spaghetti rings with little meatballs or mac and cheese. Yes, those foods are considered ‘yummy’ by some, but are they nutritious? Probably not. If you live in a flood zone, tornado alley or area prone to violent hurricanes or snowstorms, it is advisable to stock up on canned foods that will offer a variety of nutrients to keep you going until you can safely reach a source of fresh foods. The best foods ready to eat from the can would include:
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Combo Foods
- Nuts & Snacks
By having a selection from each of those groups, you would be able to sustain yourself literally indefinitely if needed. While many proponents of ‘health food’ diets would balk at the suggestion, it is possible to stay healthy with the right ready-to-eat canned foods.
Canned foods in this group would include ham, beef, turkey, chicken, tuna fish, salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. However, try to keep more fish on hand than poultry or canned meats simply because they are better for you and would contain less salt and of course, plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, for you red meat lovers, you can find everything from canned ham to canned salted beef if you set your mind to it. In fact, you can get canned oysters, clams, shrimp and crabmeat as well!
Fruits and Veggies
The best canned fruits to keep on hand would be those which are packed in natural juices with no added sugars or syrups. Not only are they less fattening, they are infinitely better for you. There probably isn’t a kind of fruit that isn’t canned from oranges to peaches, and while not as nutritious as fresh fruits, they still have plenty of vitamins to go around. The same holds true for vegetables. Any vegetable imaginable would provide the nutrients you need, but try to find the variety that is ‘low sodium.’ Too much salt is never a good thing.
Starches, Dairy and Combo Foods
Canned starches that come to mind are pastas and rice dishes. Some of them, however, are actually considered ‘combo foods’ because they include meats and vegetables. Most soups fit in this category, especially vegetable soups, creamy soups and stews. A few cans of canned evaporated milk are always good to have on hand as well, especially if you have children in the house. You can use canned milk as a cooking ingredient and you can mix it with water for a beverage if needed.
Nuts & Snacks
Canned nuts are an all-time favorite, whether or not there is an emergency. In an emergency they can provide protein and fats as needed, but they are also a great staple to have on hand for those moments when you want something to munch on. From canned puddings to chocolate covered almonds, canned nuts and snacks are always among the best ready to eat canned foods you can find. You might be suffering through the aftermath of a natural disaster, but there is no reason not to fortify yourself with a tasty snack.
You can spend futile hours debating the pros and cons of eating from a can, but in the end those foods just might be the difference between life and death. Some people have spent their entire lives eating canned foods and are just as healthy as the rest of us. The best foods ready to eat from the can provide nutrients from all the major food groups, are low in fats, sodium and added sugars. It is true that some of the vitamins are depleted during processing, but if you enjoy the taste and eat a combination of the right foods, there is no reason to worry. The best foods ready to eat from the can are those which can keep you alive and that you enjoy eating. Nothing could be simpler!