Can the Can Opener and Hit the Pantry

When I was a kid, it seemed like everyone had an electric can opener on their counter top.  Being that we always had to have the latest gadgets, ours was a special under-the-cabinet mounted version, ready for use but out of the way. 

Back then, unless you had a garden of your own, I guess there were a lot of cans being opened on a daily basis.  It wasn’t so unusual to eat peas or corn from a can, although these days, I wouldn’t dream of it.  I seem to remember lots of my friends eating Spaghettios and Chef Boy-ar-di from their lunchbox thermoses too, so can openers needed to be accessible and ready to go.  We had a very picky cat who only wanted the expensive canned food, so ours got daily use as well.  In graduate school, when I got my very first apartment, my mother bought me an electric can opener as a house warming gift.  She also gave me a set of wine glasses, which I guess she figured I’d be needing since I was now paying my own bills.  I still have both of these gifts, although I must say that the wine glasses get far more use than the can opener.  Why?  Some packaging genius came up with the idea for a pull-tab can—no can opener needed! 

Many soups, diced tomatoes, and tuna all have gone the way of the pull-tab…. but I’m still waiting for the rest of the can-world to catch on.  Beans?  Hello?  Time to get with the program!  And broth?  You too.  You’re missing the boat to the future!

Canned items are perfect for your pantry, as most of them keep for ages.  I always keep a variety of cans on hand, which are useful for all sorts of last minute meals.  Here is a list of canned goods worth keeping around, with or without your can opener.

Beans:  kidney, black, cannellini, garbanzo and pinto are all good varieties for your pantry.  They can be used in chili, soups, stews, and pureed for dips and spreads.  Be sure to rinse and drain all beans before using, as the water they are packed in is loaded with sodium.

Tomatoes:  whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes are all great starters for sauce, or a great way to add color and flavor to stews, soups, or pasta dishes.

Tuna:  the oil-packed Italian varieties and the water packed types are good for different things.  I keep both in the pantry at all times.

Soups:  bean soups, like lentil, are my favorite, and make an easy meal when drained a bit and poured over rice or pasta.  I tend to make my own noodle and veggie soups, but usually keep a can or two on hand for a hot-lunch in a pinch.

Broth:  chicken, veggie, and beef broths are good to have handy to add to soups, sauces, and stews.  Look for low-sodium varieties.

Photo above by “Blah Blah Blog”.

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