6 Canned Goods These Grandmas Have Been Buying for Decades

published Mar 10, 2022
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Holly's canned food cabinet

Canned goods aren’t just quick dinner helpers — they’re also integral ingredients in some of our grandmothers’ favorite recipes. In fact, we recently spoke with a few grandmothers and some grandma-loving food pros about canned goods and had some Very Passionate Discussions. We heard about a lot of brand loyalty, too: Every grandma we surveyed was quick to drop the product name, and few would accept any substitutions. Here are six canned goods that stood out to us the most.

Credit: Cora Brand Products

1. Cora Crushed Tomatoes

“I’ll go to the ends of the earth to find Cora Crushed Tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce, which is always on the menu when my kids come to visit,” says Kathleen Burgess, a New York-based grandmother. Of course, spaghetti sauce is just the beginning: There’s so much you can do with canned tomatoes. If you can’t find Cora tomatoes near you (they’re a New York “thing”), we’ve had success with these other brands, as well.

Find it in stores: Cora Crushed Tomatoes

Credit: Amazon

2. B&M Baked Beans

According to Barbara Mahon, a grandmother from Florida, the best baked beans are from B&M. She and her husband, David, prepare them with “a couple tablespoons of maple syrup” and serve them as “an appropriate accompaniment to a rare burger or on fresh white bread with butter.” She also notes that the jarred beans are preferable to the canned, but both are delicious.

Buy: B&M Original Baked Beans, $9.36 for 18 ounces

Credit: Amazon

3. Ro-Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies

“Ro-Tel diced tomatoes are my go-to shelf-stable pick,” says Brian Beadle, head chef of higher education at ethical foodservice company Genuine Foods, who picked up this tip from his Nona. “She used the combination of tomatoes and chilies for chili, soups, and stews. It was always her favorite, and now it’s mine.”

Buy: Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, $0.98 for 10 ounces

Credit: Instacart

4. Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil

“My grandmother used to make a salad of tuna, sliced black oil-cured olives, red onion, escarole, lemon juice, and more olive oil on twisted semolina Italian bread doused in sesame seeds,” says Ayesha Nurdjaja, chef and partner at Shuka and Shukette in New York City. Way to elevate the canned goods game! This luxe tuna salad is now a staple for Nurdjaja, too. “I like to doctor mine up with some chilis and capers.”

Buy: Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil, $3.49 for 5 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Instacart

5. Oregon Red Tart Cherries

Homemade pie is homemade pie — even if you fudge it with a canned filling. “Add the lightest touch of almond extract, lemon juice, and a little sugar and arrowroot (to thicken),” says Mahon. It’s her secret weapon for the ultimate butter-crust cherry pie, and she prefers Oregon brand. 

Buy: Oregon Red Tart Cherries, $8.39 for 14.5 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Thrive Market

6. Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce

Mahon reaches for this can — the medium heat version — whenever she wants to make a “convincing rendition of a Tex-Mex enchilada or cheese and beef stuffed peppers.” If you’re not a fan of spice, Hatch also makes a mild version (and many green varieties, as well).

Buy: Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce, $3.99 for 15-ounces at Thrive Market

Are you a grandma? Share your favorite brand of canned goods with us in the comments below.