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Oklahoma State University

Giving overlooked canned foods new life

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The canned food left in the pantry may require some imagination to make a tasty meal. (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

Not all Oklahomans were able to get to grocery stores to stock up on favorite foods in preparation for home quarantines ahead of COVID-19. Budgets and opportunities likely feel even more constrained now with announced business closures.

Barbara Brown, Oklahoma State University Extension food specialist, said it is possible consumers will have to get creative with what is still on their shelves or available from food pantries.

“First, think about the foods and recipes you do like. Then, consider how you can incorporate these less-liked foods into new dishes with other ingredients you prefer,” Brown said. “Finding a way to hide food in recipe is a great way to help ensure you make the most of what already is on the pantry shelf.”

For example, many canned vegetables mix well into soups and stews. She said those underappreciated flavors and textures easily blend in with the other ingredients. For those who are not a fan of fruit cocktail or other canned fruits, consider blending the ingredients into a smoothie along with a banana, fruit juice and ice.

Brown said another way to disguise the flavor of a not-so-favorite food is to prepare it with other foods with strong flavors of their own. Foods can be sautéed with flavored oil and garlic, for example. Add some salsa or low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice or ketchup to create a completely new dish.

If those tips are still unpalatable, consider smaller bites. Brown said when the food is cut into small pieces, it is easier to swallow more quickly. She urged caution to not swallow too much at a time.

Or alternate between taking a bite of the less-desired food with a food that is more well liked. Be sure to have a beverage to help wash down the food, she said.

“Probably the best take-away from this experience is the next time you restock your emergency food supply, make sure you’re adding not only healthy versions of foods with a long shelf life, but foods you actually enjoy,” Brown said. “Emergency foods should bring people comfort and peace of mind, not more stress.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Trisha Gedon | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3625 |

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