These are available in many varieties, whole (in puree or juice), crushed (in puree of juice), pureed, sauce, diced and more. You can buy them whole and cut them up yourself, or go for the pre-pureed/diced/crushed versions to save time. Sometimes you can find crushed tomato in puree versus juice, which makes for a thicker sauce. Whichever kind you buy, these pantry ingredients should be staples in your kitchen.
You may have heard about San Marzano tomatoes, which are from Italy, and extremely flavorful because of the unique soil and environment they are grown in. They are pretty fantastic, and so are other tomatoes grown nearby but can’t be called San Marzano because they aren’t grown in that exact region. San Marzanos are more expensive than your everyday canned tomato, but worth the splurge when you are making something for a special occasion. They usually come whole, though, so you have to do any crushing or dicing or pureeing yourself.
To make a quick homemade tomato sauce, sauté some garlic or onion in olive oil, add dried basil and oregano, some crushed or pureed canned tomatoes with their juice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or longer for a more concentrated sauce, until the house smells great. Also add canned tomatoes to soups, beans, stews, pot roasts, rice dishes and chili.