28 Cheap and Easy Recipes From Canned Foods

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CAN DO

Today's canned products tend to be healthier than they were a generation ago. And while a diet relying wholly on canned and processed foods still isn't good, there's no denying cans' ability to help create quick, tasty, and often money-saving meals. With canned products, a little creativity can yield delicious and sometimes surprising results. From soup to nuts -- and every course in between -- here are ways to get out of the drive-through lane and back into the kitchen for National Canned Food Month and beyond.

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BLOODY MARY

The classic brunch tipple relies on canned tomato juice as its main ingredient. Step up to the bar with "The Only Bloody Mary Recipe You'll Ever Need" from Eater.

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SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

Save the trip to the diner. Substitute canned sweet potatoes for fresh and combine with cottage cheese, oats, and maple syrup for a healthy recipe from Daily Burn.

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MANGO-GINGER SMOOTHIE

Canned, diced mango, and canned evaporated milk -- plus ginger, honey, and ice -- and less than five minutes are all it takes to whip up this sweet, frothy treat from Cans Get You Cooking (a program of the Can Manufacturers Institute). If a mango smoothie doesn't sound good, use canned peaches instead.

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CRABMEAT BITES

Start any party off on a tasty note with an appetizer from the blog How Sweet It Is. A small can of crabmeat is combined with cheese spread and butter, spread onto English muffins, and baked. Cut into quarters for finger food.

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CANDIED ALMONDS

Everyone knows bars serve salty snacks to keep patrons ordering drinks. Since that's hardly the goal at a house party, mix it up with a sweet snack with instructions from Allrecipes. Any canned nut can substitute for the suggested almonds.

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CARROT COCONUT SOUP

Winter afternoons call for steaming soup, and the blog The Hungry Housewife recommends one with canned carrots and canned coconut milk. The dish is further enlivened with butter, thyme, curry powder, onion, and garlic.

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WINTER MINESTRONE

The hearty Winter Minestrone soup from Stop & Shop's Recipe Center, includes canned cannellini bean as well as bacon, carrots, onion, kale, and pasta. This 30-minute version can also be tailored to vegetarians.

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CHICKPEA-BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD WITH PARMESAN AND WALNUTS

A recipe from Prevention uses a 15-ounce can of chickpeas as the key to an earthy offering. It's pitched as an alternative to those suddenly ubiquitous kale salads.

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SPICY TUNA ROLL BOWL

Simulate a sushi restaurant experience in your home with the help of the blog Show Me The Yummy. A quick-to-make version of this popular dish features solid white albacore in water, veggies, and more, all smothered in sauce with a mayo-sriracha base that promises plenty of kick.

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GRILLED CHICKEN AND APPLE SANDWICH

For a tasty Saturday lunch -- or a hot snack for the kids after school -- try a creative sandwich from a recipe on About.com. Expect a little crunch from that apple and another thrifty ingredient, celery.

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EASY CHILLI

Think canned beans and you think of homemade chili. Red kidney beans and diced tomatoes are key to Southern Living's Easy Chili from MyRecipes. Just load the ingredients into a slow cooker for a carefree bowl of spicy goodness, maybe substituting ground turkey for the ground beef.

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GOLDEN SWEET CORNBREAD

For the cornbread novice -- or those with little time -- Del Monte comes to the rescue. There are only four ingredients (including two kinds of canned corn) and five minutes of prep for a tasty, quick bread that can be baked into squares or muffins to serve alone or alongside chili or stews. Add cheese or bacon for a more complex taste.

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TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE

Anyone can open a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and call it a day. But take a can of Italian-style diced tomatoes and add spices, sugar, heavy cream, and butter as instructed by Allrecipes and get credit for home cooking that dresses pasta in style.

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PUTTANESCA SAUCE

Pitted olives and canned plum tomatoes, capers, garlic and a few more easy (and inexpensive) ingredients make a classic Italian sauce from a recipe posted on Food.com.

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PEA RISOTTO

A no-fuss recipe featured on Good Housekeeping uses canned chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if serving vegetarians) and takes only 30 minutes in a microwave for a palate-pleasing risotto.

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MAPLE BARBECUE CANNED HAM

Turn a boring old canned ham into savory ham steaks with a recipe from Plumrose USA. Maple syrup, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, and barbecue seasoning turn the everyday into something pretty darned tasty.

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CHICKEN BURRITO SKILLET

Enjoy one-pot-meal ease with a recipe found on ReadySetEat.com that adds canned black beans and a diced tomato/green chilies combo to chicken, brown rice, and more for a zippy main course that can be on the table in a half-hour.

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PORK CHOPS WITH MUSHROOMS

Canned mushroom soup and canned mushrooms add a double-dose of flavor to a quick skillet dish found on About.com

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SIZZLING BURGERS WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE

Get ready to be the neighborhood barbecue star with juicy burgers that grill up with canned water chestnuts as a main ingredient. The idea comes from Ready Set Eat.

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BAKED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Stock up on canned artichoke hearts and anchovies next time they're on sale, and have the key ingredients ready to make a casserole that made its television debut on Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals" -- so it's sure to be quick and easy.

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ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

Cranberry sauce isn't just for Thanksgiving. It's a year-round accent that goes well with pork and chicken. Buy canned cranberry sauce and add an orange for juice and zest in a recipe from the Food Network.

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CREAMED SPINACH

Using three ingredients and five minutes of prep, Food.com has a casserole-style side dish that could not be easier to make. It's just canned spinach, sour cream, and fried onions -- which also come in a can -- and is called "The Solution to Canned Spinach."

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BRILLIANT POTATOES WITH PAPRIKA AND CARMELIZED ONIONS

Canned whole new potatoes are joined by Vidalia onions, butter, and plenty of spices in an idea from Allrecipes that takes just 10 minutes to prep, then an hour in the oven.

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CHERRY CLAFOUTI

Add a French accent to a sweet with drained, canned Bing cherries -- though this classic French dessert is also often served for breakfast.

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JIM'S PINEAPPLE CHEESE PIE

Canned crushed pineapple is the signature flavor in an easy, tasty no-bake fluffy delight found on Allrecipes. With a taste like pineapple cheesecake, it might be served mousse-style by skipping the ready-made pie shell.

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AMBROSIA FRUIT SALAD

A tour-de-force of canned fruits: Canned fruit cocktail, Mandarin oranges, and pineapple chunks go with shredded coconut, whipped cream, and marshmallows to be combined in a bowl and refrigerated in instructions from Allrecipes.

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PEACH COBBLER

Trisha Yearwood may be quite the country singer, but she's also made a name for herself on the culinary front. A dessert of hers on the Food Network uses two cans of sliced peaches in syrup as its starting point. Yearwood suggests serving it warm, with fresh whipped cream.

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COCOA PUMPKIN BROWNIES

Canned pumpkin adds an unexpected dash of flavor and nutrition to brownies, substituting for half the butter in a recipe by Nestle that takes just 15 minutes to prep and 16 minutes to cook.