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Happy Uses for Tomatoes

Most families already eat a lot of tomatoes – we all eat pizza, spaghetti sauce, and probably often use canned tomatoes in recipes like chili and pasta dishes. They are a great staple food to have on hand and perfect for fresh recipes all harvest season.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes

Just in case you could use some help getting more tomatoes into your week – since they are a Super Food – here are some happy tomato ideas for you.

1. Make homemade salsa

Fresh Homemade Salsa

It only really makes sense to make fresh homemade salsa in the summer when tomatoes are fresh (unless you live somewhere warmer than I do!). I’ve perfected restaurant-style canned salsa too, so I can preserve the surplus of summer tomatoes to last all winter long.

2. Put tomatoes in scrambled eggs

Fresh or canned tomatoes are both delicious in scrambled eggs – it’s a great use-it-up idea if you only need a partial can of diced tomatoes for another recipe.

3. In grilled cheese sandwiches

We love mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaves in our grilled cheese sandwiches, especially in the summer when all are fresh! Great for dipping in soups.

4. In soups, stews, and chilis

Taco Quinoa Chili

Of course. This one is a no-brainer – so many soups call for a can of diced tomatoes or sauce. But sometimes you can get away with throwing in a can of diced or sauce in a soup recipe that doesn’t even call for tomatoes. You might even discover a new rendition of a recipe that your family will love!

A few tried and true favorites that DO call for tomatoes:

5. Mexican Rice

Mexican Beans And Rice

This rice dish is inexpensive and oh-so-easy to make. I love that it’s fully customizable so you can make it so the whole family will enjoy it.

8. Stir tomatoes into guacamole or even ranch dip for veggies

Homemade Guacamole Recipe

Your basic guacamole recipe can be jazzed up with the addition of some diced tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Trust me, this takes guacamole to the next level.

9. Gazpacho

Homemade Salsa Soup

Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and scallions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup, gazpacho, similar to this salsa soup that makes a perfect starter course.

10. Replace the ketchup in meatloaf and meatballs

Meatloaf and meatball recipes often call for ketchup or tomato sauce to help hold everything together. If your recipe calls for ketchup, try using tomato sauce instead to cut down on sweeteners.

11. Make sloppy joes

Homemade recipes for sloppy joes abound! This is also a great place to sneak in other veggies in your dinner – chop carrots or peppers and mix into the sauce. No one will ever know. 😉

12. Sauté tomatoes with farmer’s cheese

Heirloom cherry tomatoes

Make some farmer’s cheese (it might sound complicated, but it’s not!) and fry it up with some tomatoes, basil, and a splash of butter in a skillet. It makes a great summer salad, appetizer or entree!

I like to buy tomatoes preserved in glass jars instead of cans to avoid BPA, and making your own homemade tomato sauce, paste, etc is a more frugal way to do so.

To make your own tomato paste, simply sauté a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and/or 1-2 large chopped onions a couple of minutes until translucent, then add 8-10 chopped whole tomatoes, a teaspoon of dried or several teaspoons of fresh chopped oregano, basil, and any other herbs you enjoy, such as parsley or rosemary, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drizzle with olive oil, and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. For a fancier version, sauté chopped olives and/or mushrooms along with the garlic and onions. (source)

A Few Tips for Cooking Tomatoes

Remember that cooking tomatoes increase the nutrients, and including oil or fat in the same meal makes the lycopene and Vitamin A more available to our bodies.1 Yes, you need fat! This might be olive oil in the recipe, dressing on your salad, or cheese with your sandwich or casserole.

Making your own “canned” tomato products is one way to capture the essence of summer, use up the garden bounty, be frugal at the farmer’s market, and helps you make sure your tomato sauces include the peel for added nutrition.1

Because of the acidity of tomatoes, I never cook them in aluminum pots or pans. It will react and be yucky and dangerous! This is the reason even the organic canned tomatoes need a lining because the tomatoes would react with the metal in the can and cause big problems.

Did you get any ideas for using up those tomatoes? If you can think of more, share some inspiration with us in the comments!


  1. Magee, E. (n.d.). Health Properties of Tomatoes. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from
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