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Welcome to The Smart Mom Manual. I'm Winnie Yu, mom blogger at CompletelyYou.com. My daughters, Samantha and Annie, are 14 and 12. Like most moms, I'm still trying to perfect the balancing act that we all know as motherhood in the modern world. Please don't hesitate to write to me as you read my blog. You can also tweet me @Completely_You. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are Canned Foods Good for You?

By Winnie Yu for Completely You

When I was in college, canned ravioli was a weekly staple. And as a child, I loved SpaghettiOs and Manwich sandwiches. I may not eat those foods so much anymore (though I admit to eating an occasional spoonful of SpaghettiOs), but as a mom, I’ve been turning more and more to canned foods to help me prepare my meals.

It turns out that canned foods may be a good idea: A recent study by the decidedly biased Canned Food Alliance found that canned foods are often just as nutritious as the fresh and frozen varieties, and that they are often less expensive and require less time to prepare. That’s good news for us time-crunched moms, who are always looking for ways to stretch a dollar, find a minute and still feed our families the healthy foods they need.

Canned spinach, for instance, costs 85 percent less than the fresh or frozen variety; canned tomatoes, 60 percent less. Meanwhile, pinto beans from a can cost $1 less than dried pinto beans. They also take just six minutes to heat, compared to the dried variety, which require more than two hours to soak and cook. In fact, when you factor in the time it takes to prepare any fresh veggie -- cleaning, cutting and soaking -- you double your savings. After all, as any mom knows, time is money.

Come to think of the recipes I make these days, canned foods are a definite staple in my kitchen. I make a taco soup that calls for canned corn, beans and stewed tomatoes. I toss crushed pineapple from a can into pina colada smoothies and use canned pumpkin to make pumpkin pies. And I always keep a few cans of broth on hand to season stir-fries or make a quick soup.

I’m thrilled to know that something as simple as opening a can qualifies as preparing dinner. Just the other night, I made a can of beets for dinner! And guess what? They tasted just as good as the fresh ones.

Next time you’re in a hurry, check out the canned food aisle in your supermarket. You just might find dinner, dessert and even snacks to satisfy the hunger in between. Do you use canned foods to help you make dinner?

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