By: Haley Adel, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Nutrition Peer Counselor
As midterm season is around the corner, the transition from winter break to winter quarter is official. With energy redirected from relaxing to cramming for tests, most of us find ourselves short on time. We begin sacrificing things that take up precious study time, like food prep. Don’t despair! Here are some tips on how to use frozen and canned foods that you can stock up on, so dinner will only be a few minutes away.
Canned meats, especially fish, are a friend to turn to when the clock is ticking. They are shelf stable, so they don’t go bad if stored awhile, unlike fresh meat. The texture is a little different, but you barely notice when it is added to a salad or combined dish. Canned meats are also cheaper than fresh. Not only will you save time on cooking and shopping, but you’ll save money. A double bonus!
Let’s start with canned fish. Fish including salmon, anchovies, and tuna all have omega-3 fatty acids, shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that help decrease the risk of heart and other chronic diseases. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 8 oz per week of seafood. You can reach your recommended amount of seafood and save time with canned!
Canned chicken is another great way to squeeze in healthy food quickly. Each serving has about 13 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat. And that is only 1/3 of the container, so there are a lot of nutrients in that little can. Whether added to a sandwich or salad, canned chicken is a great tool to help power you through midterms.
Frozen vegetables are a quick option for any meal. They are cheaper than fresh and keep longer. Also, a greater variety is available year-round than fresh seasonal veggies. The nutrients in fresh veggies begin to diminish during storage; frozen veggies are frozen close to being picked, thereby preserving those nutrients. An important factor too, with busy schedules, is that frozen vegetables are easy to cook. Simply reheat them in the microwave or with a quick sauté for a healthy side dish in just minutes. Frozen vegetables are an essential tool to fill half your plate with vegetables.
All of this is great, but how to apply it? Well, here are some quick recipes incorporating canned foods and frozen veggies.
Chicken Fried Rice Recipe – Only 5 Ingredients!
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups canned chicken, shredded or cubed
- 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 4 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Add olive oil to a large pan and heat on medium heat.
- Add chicken and vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender. It helps if you pre-cook (steam) the vegetables to lessen the cooking time of your chicken fried rice.
- Add rice and soy sauce. Stir well and cook about 5 minutes until all ingredients are mixed and rice is heated.
15-Minute Tuna and Rice Primavera
- 1 can (10 fl oz/284 mL) condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained
- 1 can (170 g) tuna, drained, flaked
- 1-1/3 cups instant white rice, uncooked
- 1/4 cup Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese
- Bring soup and water to boil in large skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add vegetables and tuna; mix well. Return to boil, stirring constantly.
- Stir in rice and cheese; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 min. Fluff with fork
How do you lean on canned and frozen foods in your meal prep? Let us know in the comments!