These 5 Chili Recipes Use Up All the Canned and Frozen Foods You’re Not Sure What to Do With

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Making homemade chili is a quick and easy way to ensure a balanced meal gets on the table tonight.
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You're not the only one with your pantry and freezer full to the brim.

During the panic-buying phase of COVID-19, we were spending 15 to 20 percent more than we usually do on groceries, a recent Supermarket News survey shows. We were specifically stocking up on shelf-stable and frozen foods like canned goods, dry goods, frozen vegetables and the all-too-coveted yeast.

But things feel as though they have calmed down for now — at least by way of panic shopping. And you may be wondering what to do with all of those extra cans of beans, broth and frozen veggies.

Chili is an easy answer because there's no one way to make it — there are hundreds, if not thousands, of variations — and it's so simple to make the recipe a healthy one. If the recipe calls for veggies, you can easily use the frozen ones you stockpiled. And chili recipes are practically incomplete without a variety of canned beans.

Here are five healthy chili recipes that'll help you find some shelf space in your pantry or freezer.

1. Minestrone Chili

This hearty chili hybrid may help you lose weight in more ways than one.
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Not only does this recipe allow you to use up canned kidney beans, but it also marries the best of two dishes: Minestrone soup and chili. And this soup-chili hybrid sets you up for weight loss success, if that's your goal.

First, it's broth-based. Regular soup sippers typically take in fewer calories on average, which is likely they weigh less and have smaller waistlines compared to those who skimp on soup, an April 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found.

Plus, the beans that make this, well, a chili, are full of protein and fiber — two satiating nutrients that aid in weight loss.

Get the Minestrone Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

2. Half-Homemade Chili

Don't let lack of time keep you from eating healthy — get dinner on the table in just 10 minutes with this dish.
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Maybe you never intended on actually making chili from scratch. But now you need to use up some canned chili that you have on hand. And there is zero shame in that.

This chili recipe calls for canned vegetarian chili, which is upgraded with some cashews and bell pepper.

Lack of time is one of the top reasons people feel they have a hard time eating healthy, according to a December 2014 article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Using shortcuts like this Half-Homemade Chili helps keep you on track without trying to whip together an entire meal.

Another perceived barrier to eating healthy? Not knowing how to cook. According to an article published in the Journal of Public Health in June 2017, not knowing how to cook prevents 10 percent of women from getting enough fruits and vegetables. This recipe helps solve that concern, too.

Get the Half-Homemade Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

3. Winter White Chili

Enjoy healthy white beans all year round with this 45-minute recipe curated by a dietitian.

While "winter" is in this recipe's name, you can really enjoy it any time of year. After all, the star of the show, canned white beans, are basically always available — which is a good thing because they're so good for you.

A small clinical trial published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in March 2015 studied the effects of canned navy beans (a type of white bean) on overweight and obese adults.

The participants ate five cups of canned navy beans each week for four weeks. At the end of the study, both men and women saw a reduction in waist circumference, and men, specifically, saw a reduction in their total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Get the Winter White Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

4. Spicy Bean Chili

Canned beans are a healthy way to get antioxidants, and this chili packs the legumes.

We always assume fresh is best and that frozen, canned or dried are somehow subpar when it comes to what foods have to offer nutritionally. In many cases, this simply isn't true.

While you want to be cognizant of sodium levels (look for low- or reduced-sodium versions), canned beans still deliver on nutrition. In fact, the canning process has no significant effect on the phenols found in beans, an August 2012 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found.

Because we can't eat raw beans (they must be cooked), canned beans may be a healthy way to retain the antioxidant potential found in these foods. It turns out, the amount of phenolics found in canned beans is similar to what you'd find in raw fruits and vegetables.

Get the Spicy Bean Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

5. Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Don't forget the spices! They're a healthy part of chili, too.

This recipe calls for canned black, kidney and pinto beans, along with diced tomatoes. That ingredient list alone should help reclaim some shelf space in your pantry.

This recipe, like most other chilis, is heavy on the spices, too. And while we tend to think of the veggies and beans in chili as the nutritious leads, spices add nutrition as well as flavor.

Chili pepper, for instance, contains capsaicin, an antioxidant that's tied to protecting us from heart disease and supporting blood glucose control, according to a March 2019 review published in the Journal of AOAC International.

The compound can also support gut health through various means, such as by lowering the risk of developing peptic ulcers and increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Get the Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

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