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A fresh look at canned food

This month, it’s all about food and drink in MMM. Obviously food is essential as are non-alcoholic drinks. But cooking in a motorhome presents its own challenges. So, this month in Get Practical, I look at the benefits of tinned food and try to dispel some of the myths about grub that comes from a can.

I also try a host of foodie items for our monthly Shop feature. It’s a hard job but somebody has to do it! It turns out that there are loads of foodstuffs that can be kept in a motorhome for those last minute get-aways. And there are just as many easy recipes for less time in the motorhome’s kitchen on site and a more relaxing break. Just throw some clothes in the cupboard and off you go…

We’ve also got a selection of interesting recipe ideas from Angela Kay. Usefully most of these recipes can be easily adapted to suit your own favourite ingredients. It truly is quite astonishing what you can cook up in one pot.

On an unrelated theme, Arthur Findlay talks about getting his ‘van on the road after a winter lay-up. He not only offers a comprehensive list of things that should be done each spring, but offers ideas for how to ensure your ‘van stays in tip top condition if you store it over the winter period.

And there are the usual valuable DIY tips and advice from the Interchange team and also from readers who want to share their practical advice with other MMM readers.

Remember, we’re always on the look-out for readers’ step-by-step DIY jobs no matter how big or small. Just contact the editorial team at [email protected]


Our motorhome travel correspondents have been all over the UK looking at regional food and drink for this issue. But, even if you eat out most of the time, you’ll need to keep some staples in the ‘van for simple lunches.

So, when we were contacted by Canned Food UK our attention turned to food in a tin. There are a few myths surrounding tinned food so let’s deal with those now:

1. They’re just not as good for you as fresh or frozen
Most canned foods are cooked after they’ve been sealed in the can, so all the nutrients from the fresh ingredients stay in the can. As with the freezing process, most fresh food bound for tins is canned as soon as possible after harvesting.

2. Canned foods contain lots of preservatives
That aforementioned process of canning means that all foods are cooked in the can once it is sealed, which locks in nutrients and also gives cans their long shelf life without the need for preservatives. It’s the canning process itself that is the natural preservative.

3. Canned food is high in salt
It can be, but is not for preservation purposes, the extra salt is just to add taste. Often with things like vegetables, if you drain and rinse the contents first you can wash away a good percentage. Otherwise start studying the back of tins for low salt (or no salt) versions.

4. Canned food is easily overcooked
So now we know that canned food is pre-cooked, it turns out there’s a reason why tinned food has the potential to go a bit mushy. So add the tinned stuff at the end of a recipe.

As you would imagine, cans are easy to store. Here are Canned Food UK’s top tips for storing canned food:

  • Keep cans in a cool, dry place
  • Don’t buy cans past their use-by-date, (best-before is less of a problem) and avoid dented, rusted or swelling cans
  • If the can isn’t dated (they almost always are), use a permanent marker to note the date you purchased the can and consume within 12 months – just to be safe
  • It’s a good idea to rotate your canned goods, ensuring the oldest is at the front of your cupboard so that it’s used first
  • After opening the can, remove leftover food and store in an air-tight container in a fridge
  • Most cans have easy-open tops now, but don’t forget to keep a can-opener in your mobile home just in case!

I’ve got to say that cans are easy, if you remember the tin opener (at this point I pass my thanks to the many people I’ve camped next door to over the years). I’m a big fan of tins when it also comes to foodstuffs that are a bit of a faff any other way – artichoke hearts and lentils are a great example of this.

Take a look at the Canned Food UK website: www.cannedfood.co.uk for all the nutritional information on tinned foods as well as recipes and other useful tips.

Chill Nachos
Chilli nachos

Cooking time: 10 minutes


400g can chilli con carne
115g bag tortilla chips
1 tbsp Emmental cheese, finely grated
1 tbsp sliced, green jalapenos, drained
Guacamole or sour cream to serve

Jalapenos can be replaced with fresh chillies if preferred.

Serves: two as a main course or four as a starter
Preparation time: five minutes


Heat the chilli con carne in a saucepan for five minutes until hot.

Place tortillas in a large frying pan on a low heat, carefully tossing to warm through.

To serve, arrange tortillas on a large plate or platter and pour over chilli.

Sprinkle with cheese and scatter over jalapenos. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.

Nutritional information (per serving for two)
Calories: 447 Protein: 19.1g
Carbs: 52.6g Sugars: 6.3g
Fat: 18.3g Sat Fat: 4.9g
Fibre: 8.5g Sodium: 1.0g

Back to "Practical Advice" Category

21/03/2012 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

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