Dining on a Dime: Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?

By Anastassia Skarlinski

Keeping canned or frozen fruits and vegetables on hand can make life a little bit easier. Having a few cans or packages of vegetables on hand can simplify meal preparation. They can be stored longer than most fresh produce and do not need much preparation, saving you both time and money. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and prepared at the peak of their season and freshness, locking in flavor and some vitamins and minerals. In many cases, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can be consistently more flavorful than fresh. For example, canned pumpkin is typically made from a variety of different pumpkin types to give the best flavor and texture.

There are some things to keep in mind when shopping for these items. When purchasing canned foods look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium, or no added salt items when possible. Draining and rinsing the foods is a way to remove some of the sodium as well. When buying canned fruits, try to get items canned in their own juice or with no added sugar when purchasing frozen goods.

Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be an inexpensive way to add variety and color to your plate. Try adding some frozen dragon fruit to your morning smoothie, some canned pineapple to your veggie stir fry, or even some frozen broccoli to your macaroni and cheese. Here is a quick and easy soup that can be made using canned and jarred products.

Salsa Soup

  • 1 (16 oz jar) of chunky salsa
  • 2 cans of beans, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • ½ cup white rice
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium pot. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked through. Serve with lime juice, cheese, and sour cream. Serves 2-4. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

The nice thing about this soup is that it is very adaptable. Use the types of salsa or beans that you like best. Add more vegetables if you would like, I often add a cup of frozen spinach.  If you have some leftover cooked chicken, throw that in too. Want it to be thicker, add more rice, or puree one of the cans of beans. Use this as a template and add to it with what you have!

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