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Must-Have Canned Foods

Beans, whole and low-fat refried (black, garbanzo, kidney): Add whole beans to salads, stews, casseroles, chili, and Mexican entrees. Serve alone as a side or mixed with rice or tomatoes. Use refried beans on quesadillas, tacos, or as a side topped with a bit of cheese.

Broth (vegetable, chicken, and beef broth, beef consommé): Broth makes you prepared to make an array of recipes. You can also use it as a fat replacement – for preparing vegetables, meat, or soup instead of oil. Broth is more flavorful than water and adds moisture without adding extra fat and calories.

Chicken and fish: White chicken chunks, salmon, and tuna are only a can opener away! Choose water-packed canned meat and fish, which has less added fat than oil-based ones. Use for a quick sandwich, a pan-fried salmon patty, to salads, or in casseroles.

Soups (vegetable-based): Soup makes a great side dish or first course to a meal. Paired with a sandwich, soup becomes a hearty meal.

Tomatoes (Mexican and Italian-style) and tomato sauce: Use canned crushed or diced tomatoes for a chunky pizza sauce, whole tomatoes for soup or chili, and stewed for a tasty topping for baked chicken.

Healthy Dry Foods

Brown rice: Just reheat or briefly heat with water already cooked varieties. Consider buying a rice steamer for a no-hassle way to use uncooked rice. Serve as a whole grain side dish alone or mixed with veggies or tomatoes. Use rice as a base for meats. Add to thicken soups or casseroles.  You can also cook other whole grains like quinoa in a rice steamer.

Cereal (whole grain): Whole grain cereals are a fast healthy breakfast or a mid-day snack. As a crunchy topping, they quickly make yogurt or fruit more appealing.

Nuts: Nuts are rich in healthy fatty acids and phytochemicals. Eat a small handful of nuts as a snack, or sprinkle over cereal, yogurt, fish, or casserole dishes.

Pasta (whole wheat or whole grain): Try all shapes and sizes of whole-wheat pasta -- rotini, penne, medium shells, extra-wide noodles, linguine, and spaghetti. Few meals are faster than heating a jar of pasta sauce or canned tomatoes, pouring it over some steamed noodles, and topping with a bit of cheese. Steamed veggies and pasta with the broth of your choice is another tasty, fast treat.

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