To Your Health | Canned foods great for warm fall soup

To Your Health | Canned foods great for warm fall soup

A common phrase for health-conscious grocery shoppers: "Shop the outside of the store for healthy choices!"

While the outside aisles usually have healthy options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, this phrase is not accurate. The center aisles have plenty to offer to shoppers looking for nutritious, budget-friendly choices!

One of the stars of the inside aisles is canned foods. They're a great option for busy people and families to make meal preparation easier.

Canned carrots mixed with butter and dried dill is a tasty side that heats up in a few minutes, and canned tuna leads to an easy tuna-salad sandwich. As we dip into the colder months, canned foods are a great choice for fruits and vegetables to help you stick to your budget, too.

When choosing canned foods, look for cans that are clean and without dents, rust or swelling.

Store them in a cool, dry place at home, preferably under 85 degrees F. Do not store in a place with temperature swings, such as by the oven or stove. Canned foods can have a long shelf life — up to one to four years.

For more tips on food storage at home, try the USDA's "Food Keeper" mobile app.

Canned fruits and vegetables are typically picked and processed at peak freshness and have similar nutrition as their fresh counterparts. If you are concerned about sodium intake, look for lower-sodium or no-salt-added versions.

You can drain and rinse canned vegetables, beans and meats before preparation to remove even more sodium. However, this does not remove it completely. If you are limiting sodium for a health-related issue, please discuss using canned foods with your health-care provider.

This recipe is the perfect soup for lunch or dinner on a cooler fall day or a busy evening. Pair it with whole-wheat crackers and a glass of milk for a tasty, nutritious meal.

This dish is also kid-approved at my house!

QUICK TOMATO-VEGETABLE SOUP

Start to finish: 15 minutes.

Servings: 4 (1 1/4 cups each)

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 can tomato basil soup (not condensed; about 2 cups)

1 can chicken (12-13 ounces), drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook frozen vegetables in microwave according to package instructions.

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan.

Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Find more recipes from UI Extension at "EAT.MOVE.SAVE.: Making Healthier Choices on a Budget," at go.Illinois.edu/EatMoveSaveRecipes.

Beth Peralta is a registered dietitian and media communications specialist for University of Illinois Extension and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Contact her at 217-244-7405 or cavaller@illinois.edu.