How To Make Canned Vegetables Taste Great

Stretch your grocery budget by including canned vegetables. Don't settle for mushy tasteless canned veg though. Using these recipes and cooking method, you will not just save money, but actually enjoy this frugal pantry staple.

This post is all about how to make canned vegetables taste great, but we like to have a little fun here at the homestead and making people chuckle has always been a real treat for me. So, before we dive into the recipes, let me indulge in a little storytelling to map out our journey to the canned vegetable bandwagon.

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The Incident

Canned vegetables. Up to this point in my life, watching someone open a tin of vegetables has not instilled oodles of confidence in the quality or edibility of the forthcoming meal. I had equated canned veggies, with the exception of corn, to the mushy disheveled booby prize of the vegetable domain.

Two key events have thrust this dust laden food stuff from the vast depths of the impassable bottom corner cupboard into the “can corral” of my pantry. The bottom corner cupboard has always seemed an odd invention me, a kind of West Virginia’s Hell Hole Cave of the kitchen; warehousing the “buried treasure” of canned goods and fancy serving platters that we insist we will use “someday.”

The first incident wreaked its havoc during one of the most important days of my life up to that point; the day we brought our first born home from the hospital. Rocky, our wonder-lusting cat launched the incident with his own comedy of errors which no doubt compounded the events to come.

Our bundle of joy had come into the world and he and I were comfortably resting in our hospital room. My hubby thought it best to head home for a goodnights sleep in a proper bed and give our two Yorkshire Terriers some much needed attention before he brought baby and I home the following day. He parked in the driveway and left the sliding van door open while he unloaded the multitude of gifts, balloons and assorted baby paraphernalia friends and family had so generously dropped off while they visited us in hospital.

A week earlier we had won the hard fought battle of rear facing car seat installation and so after hauling all the goodies into the house, the only task left for him was to put his feet up, snuggle the puppies and relax for the evening. Tomorrow our whole world would change, but for this one last evening the chaos of parenthood was held at bay.

Rocky the cat didn’t make an appearance for this calm before the storm, but that was not unusual. Rocky was a rambl’n gambl’n cat. He hung his hat in many of the neighbourhood homes. We paid the vet bills, but he often slept the night snuggled in the bed of a neighbourhood kid. There was also that time he jumped up on the counter and absconded with a burger patty right out of the neighbours frying pan while she cooked dinner.

Hubby woke up the next morning with a spring in his step, chest puffed with pride. He was a husband AND a father. He had REAL responsibilities now, mans work. No more DINK lifestyle of ease, rest and take-out meals 4 times a week. My man was ready to test his metal on the battle field of parenthood. His first test would come as soon as he stepped out the front door.

As hubby walked out the front door, ready to jump in the van and come claim his newly founded family from the hospital, he noticed with alarm that Rocky was peering back at him from the front seat of the van. His paws in the 11 O’clock and 1 O’clock position on the steering wheel, he meowed irritably to be let out of his 4 wheeled lock-up. Rocky had spent the night in the van. With a sinking stomach, hubby came to the realization that vans do not usually come equipped with a litter box feature. Hubby steeled himself to the fact that logging was going to be taking on a whole new context today.

Rocky had solved this design flaw by using the newly installed rear facing car seat as a urinal. Undeterred by this left hook, hubby bobbed and weaved, coming up with a plan to bring the seat up to our hospital room, strip the seat of the offending fabric, wipe it down best he could and bring baby home coach style. First class seating would have to wait.

We arrived home, the faint scent of urine mingled with baby powder wafting about our infant as we crossed the threshold of our home sweet home. This is the point in our story where the impending desire to switch to canned veg and meat springs forth.

The sickening slightly sweet odor wafted through the open door, settling like a fog in the foyer. Hubby swore it smelled alright when he left to get us. I commented that maybe it was the washing machine. Earlier in the week when I had gone down to do a load of laundry and the utility room smelled a tad off, like musty wet clothes that had been left to sit in the machine too long. The washer was empty so I chocked it up to grime build up around the rubber seal and had planned on scrubbing it, but it fell to the back of my mind as the impending delivery date of baby #1 kept me occupied with more pressing tasks.

Hubby settled baby and I into the nursery, but could not shake the feeling that something was amiss and went back downstairs to investigate.

As I sat rocking baby while he nursed, all hell broke loose downstairs. My fella let loose in a torrent only matched by the “Most Feared Furnace Fighter in Northern Indiana” scene from the movie “A Christmas Story.” I heard him stomp up the stairs muttering with every step until he stood in the doorway of the nursery, his face and ears beat red from frustration and eyes watering from the assaultive stench he was met with in the utility room.

Our old second hand chest freezer had died sometime in the last few weeks. It had been jam packed full of freezer bags loaded with sliced onions, celery and carrots that I had carefully and time-consumingly prepped. It also contained our store of meat for the next 6 months. This was all nearly liquefied to a stew of decayed flesh and vegetable matter.

Hubby’s second test of fatherhood was a full on battle of strength and endurance against his gag reflex, only broken up by the sound of him violently dry heaving and muttering obscenities.

With the help of my father-in-law, he did eventually get the thing loaded in the back of the truck and off to the dump. At the end of his first day of fatherhood he stood battle tested and triumphant.

Now, several hundred dollars in the hole or rather ….dump, we had to find a way to buy our food and eat it too.

The Clincher

The second incident was significantly less dramatic, but was in my mind an absolute coup of the frugal treasure hunt.

Super Store released their weekly PC Points offers to my email and within those offers was one for canned mixed vegetables. The canned vegetables were on sale that week and along with my points offer per can, the accumulated points value I received for the multiple dozen cans I purchase was MORE than the actual purchase price I paid for them. I other words, they paid me to take this product home! That, my friends, is the “White Whale” of money saving events!

Now I had to find a way to use all this product. After all, a deal is only worth the money spent if you actually USE the product.

My first course of action was to open the tin, dump it into a pot and heat n’ eat like I do for corn. Don’t do that. In my opinion (and of my family) they are highly inedible this way. My husband loudly wondered what they had done to warrant this tortuous gruel and he’ll eat just about anything without complaint, the dear man. The can liquid had condensed down into a sickly sweet yet slightly cardboard flavoured “sauce” and the vegetables had oddly disintegrated into mixed veg shaped mush.

The fix was on. I pulled out my trusty “Spice and Herb Bible” by Ian Hemphill and began creating mixes and methods to turn the dirty old shoe of the food world into culinary creations I am proud to serve to family and friends.

These excellent spice and herb blends along with the oven roasting method, elevate the humble canned veg from the trash bin to the space just left of the main dish on the table layout, kicking it’s brethren, the bagged frozen veg with its fresh from the field flash frozen goodness, out of the grocery lineup for all but the most special of occasions.

At $1 per can for No Name brand, these are a must in your “Everything Pantry.” I love the mixed veg because I think you really get bang for your buck, a little bit of everything in each can.

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Stretch your grocery budget by including canned vegetables. Don't settle for mushy tasteless canned veg though. Using these recipes and cooking method, you will not just save money, but actually enjoy this frugal pantry staple.

The Recipes

I have listed Shiitake mushroom powder as an optional ingredient. Mushroom powder is my secret ingredient that gives dishes that satisfying umami depth of flavour without using MSG. Umami is that savory meaty flavour from glutamate that that our brain craves. Glutamate (glutamic acid) is a naturally occurring amino acid found in vegetable and animal proteins.

Classic Sunday Dinner Style Canned Mixed Veg.

The classic flavours of rosemary, onion and garlic complement many main dishes including roast chicken, ham, roast beef, pork roast and meat loaf. The pinch of nutmeg is not over powering, but highlights the other herbs and spices making for a more flavourful dish.

2 cans Mixed veg (drained and rinsed)
1/16 tsp (pinch) Ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground rosemary
1 tsp Onion powder (or half a chopped onion)
1 tsp Garlic powder (or 2 cloves)
1/8 tsp Real Salt
1 tsp Shiitake mushroom powder *optional
2 TBSP Unsalted butter, melted

Melt butter in a small bowl, then add the spices/herbs and mix well. In an oven safe casserole dish (with lid) toss the drained and rinsed mixed vegetables with the butter and herb/spice mix. Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees C.

Dill Butter Sauce with Canned Mixed Veg.

The dill is a great palate cleanser to pair with rich dishes like Swedish meatballs or fish and the mustard seed adds a little bite for interest.

2 cans Mixed veg (drained and rinsed)
1/4 tsp Celery seed
1 tsp Dried dill
1/4 tsp Mustard seed, whole
1/8 tsp Real Salt
4 TBSP Unsalted butter, melted

Melt butter in a small bowl, then add the spices/herbs and mix well. In an oven safe casserole dish (with lid) toss the drained and rinsed mixed vegetables with the butter and herb/spice mix. Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees C.

Ranch Style Canned Mixed Veg.

This is by far one of the most loved flavour combinations of all time. The 2 TBSP of mayo mixed in just before serving adds that creamy zing that is so appealing about Ranch dressing without overloading the veg with fat and cholesterol. This variation pairs well with pulled pork sandwiches, Sloppy Joes and baked chicken wings.

2 cans Mixed veg (drained and rinsed)
1 TBSP Dried parsley
1/2 tsp Dried dill
1 tsp Onion powder (or half a chopped onion)
1 tsp Garlic powder (or 2 cloves)
1/8 tsp Dried chives
1/8 tsp Real Salt
1/8 tsp Ground black pepper
2 TBSP Unsalted butter, melted
2 TBSP Mayo   *mix in just before serving

Melt butter in a small bowl, then add the spices/herbs and mix well. In an oven safe casserole dish (with lid) toss the drained and rinsed mixed vegetables with the butter and herb/spice mix. Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees C. Just before serving, mix in 2 TBSP of mayonnaise.

Lemon Pepper Style Canned Mixed Veg.

The lemon in this flavour combination is a great pairing with Italian pasta dishes. It cuts through the richness of the cheeses and marries the flavour profiles together. Try it as a side with a Ragu over parmesan polenta or homemade mac n’ cheese.

2 cans Mixed veg (drained and rinsed)
1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
1/8 tsp Real Salt
1 TBSP Lemon juice
2 TBSP Olive oil

Mix together the lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl. In an oven safe casserole dish (with lid) toss the drained and rinsed mixed vegetables with the seasoning mix. Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees C.

Thanks for joining me on this frugal adventure. Until next time,

Penny

Join us for more frugal recipes over at The Everything Pantry.

Penny

I'm a frugal, city dwelling, "homestead where you're at" blogger with a passion for saving a buck (in often creative ways). I really enjoy sharing my money saving tips and sweat equity methods to help others struggle less financially.

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