16 Cheap Canned Goods That Professional Chefs Swear By

Transform humble canned goods into gourmet feasts with these chef-approved picks.

happy family arranging grocery in fridge
Updated May 28, 2024
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Treating yourself to a fancy meal doesn't have to be out of reach. 

If you’ve ever wanted to cook a professional dish without breaking the bank, canned goods can be your ticket to these restaurant-quality dinners.

In fact, many notable chefs use canned groceries for many of their memorable meals. It’s a way to save money on groceries and eat well, and you can do it too.  

Editor’s note: Prices are subject to change and may vary by store or location. Our prices are pulled from Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Aldi.

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Happy Harvest Basil, Garlic, and Oregano Diced Tomatoes

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz oregano diced tomatoes

Price: $1.05

This can of diced tomatoes comes already seasoned and spiced. Plus, for just about $1, you’ll not only make cooking easier and tastier, but you'll also keep more money in your wallet.

Enjoy a delicious dish with this ready-to-go canned good. Your family may just think you’ve become a seasoned chef with this handy ingredient.

Greek Chickpeas with Parsley and Cumin

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz greek chickpeas

Price: $2.49

Chickpeas are a chef’s favorite, and these come already seasoned with bold spices.

Incorporate this into a wide variety of recipes, including homemade hummus. This may just become your new go-to ingredient.

Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz campbell’s cream of chicken soup

Price: $1.32

Even the most humble of ingredients can transform a dish.

Many chefs use canned soups to add creaminess and depth to their dishes like this cream of chicken. There’s a reason why this soup is a staple in many households!

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Baker’s Corner Sweetened Condensed Milk

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz baker’s corner sweetened condensed milk can

Price: $2.19

Many kitchens and chefs around the world utilize this canned ingredient for their desserts.

Sweetened condensed milk is versatile in its use and relatively inexpensive. Pies, puddings, ice creams, and more can benefit from this canned good.

Bush’s Best White Hominy

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz bushs best white hominy

Price: $1.42

This can of fluffy hominy kernels is something celebrity chefs like Aarón Sánchez swear by.

Since it’s pre-cooked, it’s easy to incorporate into your meals and dishes for some lovely texture. Make some of this chef’s famous chili or hominy and pico de gallo with this can.

Northern Catch Sardines in Soybean Oil

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz northern catch sardines in soybean oil

Price: $1.09

Chefs like Alton Brown love sardines for their saltiness and crunch.

Eat them alone or make dips, spreads, and other fishy recipes with this canned good. And since it comes in oil, half the prep is already handled!

Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz libby’s 100% pure pumpkin

Price: $2.79

Don’t confuse this ingredient for ready-made pumpkin pie filling.

This pure pumpkin puree can be used in a wide range of dishes for a fresh pumpkin taste. Many chefs use this canned good for elevated cuisine without spending too much time or energy.

Oregon Specialty Fruit Red Tart Cherries

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz oregon specialty fruit red tart cherries

Price: $4.92

Want to make a quick fruit crumble or pie?

Many chefs love the ease of use of canned fruits like these tart cherries. And canned fruits let you make your favorite desserts no matter the season.

Northern Catch Solid White Albacore Tuna

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz northern catch solid white albacore tuna

Price: $1.75

Did you know that Julia Child loved using canned tuna?

You can easily add a number of ingredients to turn this dish into an elegant treat. Try it with oil, lemon, spices, and more for a light meal full of flavor.

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Spam Classic

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz spam magic

Price: $3.98

This classic canned meat is popular in Hawaiian dishes, and for good reason.

Make your very own low-cost dinner with this canned ingredient. Try it grilled with rice and seaweed for an unforgettable meal that’ll transport you to Hawaii.

Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz cento san marzano peeled tomatoes

Price: $4.69

This sweeter variety of tomatoes packs a powerful punch that many celebrity chefs praise.

Canned tomatoes are easy to blend into homemade sauces and Italian dishes for a hearty, acidic flavor. Make more elegant meals with this handy and affordable ingredient.

Bumble Bee Whole Baby Clams

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz bumble bee whole baby clams

Price: $2.48

Don’t overlook this canned good on your next shopping trip.

Chefs like Rocco DiSpirito love how convenient, low-cost, and fresh these canned clams can be for dishes. And less preparation is needed when you use a can of clams over fresh seafood.

Organic Garbanzo Beans

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz organic garbanzo beans

Price: $1.09

Homemade hummus and soup wouldn’t be complete without garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas.

This staple ingredient is convenient for injecting some fiber, protein, and other nutrients into your everyday diet.

And the canned varieties mean you still get delicious taste and freshness for your high-quality meals.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz campbell’s tomato soup

Price: $1.32

Here’s another handy soup many chefs swear by.

Campbell’s tomato soup is versatile with its acidity and creamy tomato flavor. Incorporate it into your homemade sauces, or add whole milk and spices to elevate this soup.

Embasa Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz embasa chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Price: $1.64

You can cook like Bobby Flay when you use this ingredient!

These chipotle peppers are soaked in adobo sauce, adding authentic flair to any dish. They have a smoky, spicy flavor and richness that can elevate any recipe.

Great Value Sliced Peaches in Syrup

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz great value sliced peaches in syrup

Price: $2.92

When you can’t get fresh fruits, canned fruits can be just as delicious.

One benefit of canned fruits, like these peaches, is the sweet syrup they’re steeped in. This makes them great for less prep for pies, cobblers, and more.

Bottom line

SockaGPhoto/Adobe fake labelled cans on white background

Cooking chef-quality meals for your family doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.

One smart shopping hack is to stock up on many of these canned goods to make quick, easy dishes that taste as delicious as possible.

See what some of your favorite chefs recommend, and visit your local grocery store to buy some of these staples.

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Author Details

Ariel Taranski

Ariel Taranski is a writer for FinanceBuzz. She has worked as a content marketer for CPAs and financial advisors, and she enjoys being frugal and money-savvy in her day-to-day life. Ariel has also worked with clients such as The Knot, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Alpha Prime, and many more in her time as a freelance writer.