Canned foods are a staple of many homes here in the US. They’re easy to store, easy to use, and quite cheap to buy.
But they have another side to them as well.
Nutrition experts have long talked about buying fresh or frozen instead of canned as he foods tends to lose some nutrients when under such high heat. And there is also the issue of the can lining, many still use chemicals like BPA which is an endocrine disruptor. (endocrine system = hormone production)
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit – I still have a couple of cans in my home every now and again.
But not near as many as I used to! Because instead of preparing a meal by adding a couple of cans of this and a can of that, I actually make most everything from scratch. (seriously, I think my old chili recipe I got from a friend was just 6 cans of various ingredients) And once or twice a year I buy canned green beans (yuck) for a green bean casserole as Todd wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ve already covered making your own soups and sauces, which will considerably reduce the amount of cans you buy, but what about the rest of it?
Instead of buying cans of beans, try buying dried beans instead. Not only is it a much cheaper option, you’ll also be able to prepare them so as to absorb the most nutrients from them.
And to be completely honest here – Todd hates when I make them at home. Somehow they just don’t have the same texture as canned (which I don’t think is a bad thing – I think he’s just so used to eating the canned foods he grew up with), so I’m working on it. If you have a great technique to share, I’m all ears.
Buy them fresh when they’re in season and your taste buds will thank you. During the winter, I buy most of them frozen. This is due to the fact that I live in Michigan and the produce travels quite far to get here, so it’s really as fresh as it could be.
And when you absolutely, positively have to buy a can of food, try to at least buy it in a BPA free can. (I think Eden organic has mostly BPA free cans now)
I love making beans in the crockpot. It is easy to soak them, ahead of time in water and apple cider vinegar. Then, I drain them, and cook them on low for about 8 hours in my crockpot. It is really hassle free and they have the texture of canned beans to me. As long as I add plenty of water, the beans are soft and delicious. I occasionally use a can of beans, but the crock pot has made it really easy and cost-efficient to cook my own beans, most of the time. When I used to cook the beans on the stovetop, they had a horrible consistency and were still a bit crunchy.
@Christine, That’s the problem – my husband thinks they’re still to “crunchy”. I like them just fine, but then again i didn’t grow up eating beans and just recently started eating them. 🙂 So I don’t have a lifelong preference to get over.
I guess I’ll be trying them in the crockpot this week!
Have you ever tried cooking beans in a crock pot? It takes a long time but produces more of the texture of canned while still have the benefits…
@Natasha, I agree with this! Just soak them in the crockpot overnight, drain, rinse, and recover with water. I cook black beans and chick peas on low for 7 – 8 hours (longer with the chickpeas if we’re making hummus as we like the beans really soft for that) or high for 4 – 5 hours. Sometimes I add a little kosher salt in the cooking water, but usually just season them when I add them to whatever dish I’m making.
My husband was not a huge fan of beans when we first got married (canned or dry), but he’s come around. I think it was a texture thing for him. I definitely think the texture of crockpot beans has helped.
I agree with Natasha.
Another trick that might work…get a hold of an empty can for beans with the label still on it and set it on the counter whenever you are making beans for a meal…sometimes the difference is all in our heads.
I’m mostly off cans, except for coconut milk and tomato products. I wish I knew a not-too-expensive alternative for those. Until I settle down and can grow and can my own tomatoes, I feel like I’m up a creek!
I didn’t grow up enjoying beans at all, so I had to convince myself to eat them (sometimes even harder than convincing someone else). I took just one recipe at a time, often with the beans well covered by other ingredients. He won’t notice the bean texture if, for example, they’re mashed and mixed in with the ground beef. I choose to sprout beans, using just water and time, rather than ferment them with vinegar or whey added since I find the whey/vinegar toughens the skins, making the beans firmer no matter how thoroughly they cook. Finally, I try to simmer my beans for refried beans for a really long time (sometimes upwards of 2 hours). They seem to be “done” much earlier but leaving them cooking longer really softens them up for a smoother bean.