By Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, Director, Health & Well-being, FMI
beans

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) I love good food and enjoy a balanced approach to nourishment around the family meal table. Quite often I find that people think RDNs only eat foods that are “healthy” therefore they must not taste great and are likely expensive. Let’s debunk that myth with some recent research about RDNs, family meals and canned beans.

According to research (www.cannedbeans.org – funded by Bush Brothers), along with my fellow RDNs apparently I have a high canned-bean IQ (based on my knowledge about the many health benefits, versatility and affordability of canned beans, along with my weekly inclusion of beans in alignment with the Dietary Guidelines). Consumers, on the other hand, vary significantly in their level of understanding of the health benefits and their consumption of canned beans. The key to closing the gaps between RDNs and consumers might just be insightful inspiration to build nutritious, delicious family meals with one of the most affordable pantry staples I can think of—canned beans.

The nature of family meal planning and cooking transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we know from our U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2021 report, consumers increasingly relied on pantry staples from the grocery store to support the uptick in cooking-at-home. Canned beans certainly support the priorities consumers identified as they shifted to more meals at home, from minimizing waste and prep time to boosting health and nutrition.

The pandemic also prompted a more practical and realistic approach to overall eating, often linked to health and well-being. Canned beans not only fit into the top three most popular approaches noted by consumers: plant-based, low-carb, and dairy/lactose-free; but they also fit into most all other approaches noted: gluten-free, Mediterranean, intuitive, whole foods, flexitarian, DASH and the Dietary Guidelines. Note from this RDN: don’t skip the canned bean aisle if you are looking for one of the most affordable, accessible, nutritious, immune supportive, naturally “better-for-you” foods available.

Speaking of “better-for-you” foods, 79% of shoppers say they actively look for at least one health related attribute when purchasing a food product. Again, canned beans fit the bill for just about all of them. They avoid most negatives, are minimally processed, contain good fiber, involve ethical practices, are heart healthy, and they include positive nutrition. Not many food product categories boast so many claims.

So, as an RDN with a decent canned bean IQ, I encourage you to utilize your RDNS, and educate shoppers on how to rinse and drain a can of beans each week, put them in a clear container in the fridge and add them here and there to salads, soups, sides, wraps and bowls. Share delicious recipes with shoppers for inspiration that include canned beans (think chili, stew, burritos…) and stay strong with nutritious, delicious, easy family meal ideas!  

Visit www.FMI.org/FamilyMeals  for ways to help shoppers stay strong with family meals this September, National Family Meals Month™ and visit www.cannedbeans.org for shopper resources on canned beans and more information, including a new toolkit for RDNs and others educating shoppers on food and nutrition.