Fact Sheet

Making the most of packaged foods

Packaged foods tend not to be the healthiest options when compared to fresh, as they can be high in saturated fats, added sugars and salt. However, not all packaged foods are unhealthy choices, and if you know which ones to look for, they can make it easier for you to eat healthier!

Packaged foods can be a convenient option for when you don’t feel like cooking and can make healthy eating more affordable. The packaged foods below are some of our pantry staples and can easily be whipped into a quick, tasty and nutritious meal.

Canned tuna or salmon – an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fats, canned fish has a long shelf life and is an easy addition to many recipes. Choose varieties canned in spring water. 

Frozen vegetables – it’s a common misconception that frozen vegies are not as nutritious as the fresh ones. However, because they are frozen quickly after being picked, they can be just as nutritious and provide important vitamins and antioxidants.

Canned beans/legumes – there are lots of different varieties of canned beans to choose from. Add canned lentils to spaghetti bolognaise, chickpeas to curry and a can of 4 bean mix to salads. Canned beans are inexpensive and a good source of protein and fibre.

Yoghurt – yoghurt is a great source of protein, gut-friendly probiotics and calcium – with one 200g tub providing up to a third of your daily calcium requirements. Enjoy on its own as a snack or add some to your muesli or fruit salad.

Canned fruit – canned fruit is an easy option when fresh varieties are out of season and is great a fibre-booster! Look for varieties canned in juice rather than syrup.

Canned tomatoes – canned tomatoes can form the base for many easy recipes and are a must in any pantry. Choose salt reduced varieties.

Pre-cooked rice – a convenient alternative to cooking rice on the stovetop when you’re short on time. Look for plain varieties which don’t have added flavourings.

Long-life and evaporated milk – never run out of milk again! Long-life milk has been heated to high temperatures to increase the shelf-life without needing refrigeration (don’t forget to store the milk in the fridge after the milk has been opened!). Evaporated milk is a great alternative to cream and coconut milk and works well in pasta, risotto and curries.

Baked beans – a great source of fibre and plant-based protein, enjoy them on toast or add them to a baked potato to create an easy and filling meal. Look for reduced salt varieties. 

Rolled oats – a must in any pantry. Add them to smoothies and muffins or enjoy some as porridge for brekkie. Choose traditional or steel-cut oats over quick or instant oats

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