Cupboard Cuisine: 5 Healthy Meals in a Can

Are you suffering from kitchen burnout? Canned food to the rescue! With the canned choices in my cupboard, all I need is a few extra ingredients, like olive oil, fresh lemon juice, onion and red pepper, to create some seriously healthy meals.

My I’m-not-in-the-mood-to-really-cook standbys: bean, parsley and tomato salad; a bean-and-salmon/tuna salad; a five-minute tomato and bean stew; curry, lentil or split pea soup simmered with kale or spinach; or sardines on crackers (for the latter, fresh lemon juice, a little crushed garlic, and fresh chopped parsley go a long way).

A few quick canned food pointers:

• Buy no-salt-added (except for soup, which rarely comes that way). Not available at your local supermarket? Compare labels and get the lower sodium items.

• Look for low-sodium or reduced-sodium soups with no more than 400 mg sodium per cup (8 ounces).

• Feel good about canned tomatoes—canning concentrates the powerful antioxidant lycopene. For most other vegetables, buy fresh or frozen, as canning zaps much of their nutrition.

• Choose wild-caught salmon; it’s usually lower in cancer-causing chemicals called “PCBs.”

• “Chunk light,” “light” or “skipjack” canned tuna is generally substantially lower in mercury than “white albacore” or “albacore” tuna. That’s because albacore is a much bigger fish, so it has a lot more mercury concentrated in its meat from all the little fish it has eaten.

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