It’s in the can: 4 essentials for your cupboard

You don’t need to create Instagram-perfect meals to satisfy your body and your taste buds. These pantry staples enable you to create delicious and nutritious options in next to no time, writes dietitian Ashleigh Feltham.

If you are like many of us, time is a precious commodity. Having your kitchen stocked with fresh and healthy produce you can lovingly prepare is not always possible, and tapping that food delivery app again probably won’t do your wallet or nutrition too many favours. Time to go old school and stack the pantry high with a few must-have cans that form the basis of some quick and healthy meals and snacks.

You don’t need to create Instagram-perfect meals to satisfy your body and your taste buds. Here are 4 cans which you should have stacked in your cupboard to create delicious and nutritious options in next to no time.

1. Tuna

For meat eaters, tuna is a protein source which is just as beneficial in canned form (if in spring water) as it is fresh. Canned tuna (sustainably caught and dolphin-friendly) is a great way to meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs, which helps promote a healthy heart and mind, and also contains vitamin D for strong bones and immunity. Tuna is also a source of iodine, which helps to keep your metabolism working well. Perhaps not surprising therefore that Jerry Seinfeld said ‘The whole concept of lunch is based on tuna’!
How to use: Add to a salad, a pasta dish, mix with rice, peas and corn, or add to whole grain crackers or a baked potato.

2. Beans and pulses

All and any beans and pulses are under this banner, from kidney beans to fava beans, lentils to chick peas. Baked bean lovers can rejoice too, but try to select the low sodium and reduced or no added sugar varieties for a healthier option. Beans are full of the B vitamins needed by your body to convert food to energy. And as you probably know, they are also a great source of fibre, with one cup giving your body between 20-30% of your daily fibre needs! In addition to keeping your guts happy and working well, fibre keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
How to use: Add to a salad for added flavour, into a sauce to replace meat, or to a soup to make a delicious minestrone.

3. Diced tomatoes

The no added salt and sugar varieties are the cans to reach for. One cup will give your body around 20% of the vitamin C your body needs. Another bonus of processed tomatoes is that they are the best source of lycopene, an antioxidant which supports a healthy prostate.
How to use: A great addition to most sauces or on top of nachos or tacos.

4. Green beans

A great addition to any salad or sauce, green beans give your body the immunity-boosting support of vitamins A and C, as well as folate, a B vitamin which helps keep your DNA healthy and repairs damage. Additionally, green beans provide fibre and potassium, which is needed for healthy blood pressure.
How to use: Try adding into sauces, as part of a cold salad with some ricotta and cherry tomatoes, or chopping finely and adding to the mixture of a hamburger, meatloaf or meatball.

You don’t need to be a MasterChef to look after your health and nutrition. Being savvy can not only save you a few dollars, but also your precious time. By making sure your cupboard is stocked with these four essentials, you’ll always have a simple, delicious and nutritious meal in minutes.


Ashleigh Feltham is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and owner of Feed Your Future Dietetics. She is also an experienced personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.