Fresh tastes best, you cannot disagree really. But that does not mean that canned or frozen foods cannot feature in a healthy eating plan for you and your family.
There is such an abundance of great options out there in the frozen and canned aisles at the supermarket. These foods make it easier and often cheaper to be able to eat a healthier diet.
There are quite a few staples from the frozen and canned categories which feature at our place and I’ll tell you them in a moment but first, let us look at the watch outs for canned and frozen foods.
Canning has been around for over a century and was one of the first ‘industrialised’ methods of preserving foods. Essentially the way in which the foods are preserved are through heat, pressure and sometimes salt. These 3 attributes are what keep the growth of microorganisms at bay and keep the food safe to eat for extended periods of time.
Some of the watch outs when buying canned foods are:
Salt comes in varying forms and in canned items it might be present as brine or sodium. Look for reduced salt or no salt added, but also watch out for the increase in sugar due to the reduction of salt.
Alternatively you can wash your food after you take it out of the can to reduce some of the salt residue.
Of course with fish, the brine or freshwater is better than the oil. Read here why fish and fish oils are so good for you, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When items are cooked in the can, the flavour changes. To add back in some of the “freshness”, herbs and sugar are often added. This is often the case in tomato style canned products. Try and stick to the plain canned tomatoes to avoid unneccesary sugar.
Sugar also features a lot in canned fruit items. Choose the fruit products which are in juice rather than syrup.
Frozen fruit and vegetables are very high in quality. They are often frozen within 24 hours of harvest so it means you are able to eat ‘fresh’ foods all year round.
The biggest watch out for frozen foods is one which you can often only see once you have opened the product, frost.
Sometimes when the supply chain is let down and the products defrost and refreeze there will be a noticeable difference in the amount of ice which is present. The texture of your produce will be also negatively affected by this refreezing and taste ‘mushier’ than usual.
Although this requires effort, complain if you are not happy with the quality of your food item as there is not much you can do to restore the quality of your food item.
My top 10 frozen and canned items are:
- Berries…all kinds. They are way cheaper than the fresh variety and I normally eat these with yoghurt, smoothies or baked goods, so frozen is perfect for me. Read here to find out some of the health benefits of blueberries.
- Peas. Who doesn’t have a pack of frozen peas in their freezer? Great for fibre, they are a perfect addition to soups, rice dishes, as a side dish or even in frittatas. Here is a recipe for a frittata.
- Mixed veggies. I always have a bag of frozen mixed veggies as an emergency meal.
- Prawns. They are low in fat and a great source of iodine. Prawns are incredibly versatile whether in a paella, risotto, salad or barbequed. Check out a great recipe for prawns here.
- Corn. I love frozen corn whether it is the kernels or half a cob. I would choose frozen corn kernels over canned as there is far less sodium in the frozen variety.
- Canned tomatoes. An easy addition to soups and pasta sauces. I always get the plain variety rather than flavoured to avoid any added salt or sugar.
- Canned chickpeas. I love to make hommus and this is an incredibly easy way to do it. I always wash the chickpeas before use to reduce the salt.
- Canned beetroot. Again we love beetroot dip here and it is much easier to use canned rather than boiling up some beetroot and colouring the house pink. Again I often wash the beetroot before use. Here is a recipe for beetroot dip.
- Canned butter beans. Again for dip. Goodness, we eat a lot of dip!
- Canned pineapple. For pizzas and cakes. We get the pineapple in juice, not syrup.
So if you are finding it difficult to shop every week for your fresh vegetables or your fruits are going off to quickly, try some of these in your next shop to keep your pantry and fridge stocked with healthy alternatives.