Best Food Storage: Canned or Freeze Dried?


Reader Question:

I’d like to hear opinions on canned vs freeze dried food in an area where clean water would not be abundant in a disaster, Southern California.


The thought that immediately comes to mind is find a way to store more water! Not only would you need water to rehydrate your food, but you will also need water to drink. You will need water for sanitation too. The general rule of thumb is a gallon of water per person, per day, minimum.

“Unless you live on property with natural occurring water, you need to have excess water storage available for an emergency. Depending on your weight, physical activity, and environment, the human body needs nearly 1 gallon of water per day. Human beings are made up of about 60% water. We sweat out about 2 cups water per day. We lose 1 cup per day from exhaling and we eliminate about 6 cups of it. Your life depends on daily replenishment of water.”

Source: Modern Survival Blog

The next thing I thought is that I would store both types of food as I do right now. Canned foods will last for several years (or more – depending) and are essentially already cooked, so you can eat them right out of the can, without heating, if circumstances do not provide you with a means to heat your canned  food.

Canned foods will last for a few years, but they are also heavier to carry if you have to bug out. Canned foods will also take up a fair amount of physical space. Freeze dried food is much lighter weight and has a shelf life of about 25 years, but you do need to add water.

Why should you store both types? Well, if you really want to be prepared, then you should be ready for almost any kind of situation that can occur. Some may be short term while others could be very long term. Both types of food could be used as you hunker down and stay inside your home. The emergency situation or disaster that you are preparing for will lead to whether you will ‘bug out’ or ‘bug in’ and will help you determine which food to store or to carry with you.

Freeze dried food is light weight and some of it could be put in ziploc bags or containers for example, for a survival pack or bug-out-bag. Canned foods won’t be practical here. On the other hand, canned foods are ready-to-eat and are simple for at home.

In summary, I would suggest for your situation to concentrate first on canned foods and then build up a supply of water storage and freeze dried food. I would also determine where you would ‘bug out’ if you had to leave for greener pastures.

“Whether you live in a region prone to natural disasters or if you are emergency survival preparedness minded, it is imperative that you store water for you and your family, BEFORE you think about storing food.”

Source: Survival Water Storage


  1. Please do realize that canned foods have high sodium levels tht work to raise blood pressure and can contribute to health issues in an already stressful situation, if you are to the point of living of your stores, and that they also, in most cases, have BPA in the linings of the cans that if eaten five times a week have shown to raise the BPA levels in blood to an unhealthy limit. What is one to do?
    Call me the wet blanket if you must, but all water from the sky and above ground sources are continueously being poisoned by what falls from our atmosphere that is being carried around the globe on a daily basis.
    Have your filters ready.

    1. Halfkin, you’re painting with a pretty broad brush in saying that all canned foods have high sodium levels. DYODD in reading labels, but I’m pretty sure the multiple cases of canned fruit I have don’t have any sodium, and not all of my 700+ cans of tomatoes have added salt.

      With regard to BPA, would you rather eat canned food and maybe (or maybe not) suffer health effects down the road from BPA, or would you rather have a well-stocked pantry when the Schumer hits the fan?

    2. At this point in time, even industrial filters don’t clean out the carcinogens. Fin a different planet for clean water. We’re all dying from cancer down here. Also sodium CAN cause high blood pressure. A lot more has to do with genetics. Call me a wet blanket, but the whole world is f’d.

      1. Ok, you are a “wet blanket”.

        Meanwhile however, I look outside and it’s foggy…………but I know there is glorious sunshine above these low clouds.

        I know there is ample food in my stores and water in my reserves.

        I know there is death awaiting me somewhere in the future, but I neither dread nor fear that. I’m prepared to meet whatever comes next.

        You can live in fear, or face life as a challenge. Overcome life’s challenges through hard work and ingenuity, or cower in face of adversity.

        Make a choice. As for me, well, today looks to be a good one. If not, it won’t be for lack of trying on my part.

        Hope you’ll lose the defeatist attitude, and join me in facing the day with courage, conviction, and a good dose of compassion for those less blessed than yourself.

        1. Dennis;
          Very well said my friend.
          Sure we all have a few “down days” but ya know, life is what you make of it.
          Personally I prefer not to be that “Wet Blanket”, life is short enough.
          Is sunny and a absolutely wonderful morning here in the Four Corners, thinking maybe tis a good day to go fishing, maybe catch some of that ammo I lost in Navajo Lake LOLOL

          PS; you bet we are all toast sooner or later, God and a few others will let me know when, but till that time, “screw it all, I’m living life as full as I can”.

        2. Well said Dennis,
          As usual sir,,,
          It is truly looking to be another great day!

    3. When the stores run out of food because some virus impacts transportation logistics, do you think I’m going to throw out a can of SPAM because it has sodium and saturated fats? Maybe the can is lined with BPA? OMG! get a grip. When poo hits the fan I guarantee you will not only eat your pets, you will add salt if you have any. You need to survive before you can thrive.

  2. I would rather have my fruits and vegys canned in glass with the small amount of added salt or not in them.
    Yes glass breaks and is heavy. Cans are heavy too. I do not plan on moving this store of goods, whether in glass or cans.
    And you are also correct in that not all cans have too much added salt.
    As far as BPA? It is a concern I feel people should consider if all, or most, of their stored food comes from a can. There are some brands that advertise that they do not line their cans with it. If one can believe them, I have heard that the Kroger brand from Fred Meyers do not use it.

    1. I’m not taking a chance with glass. I’ve had enough mason jars break when they’ve fallen off of shelves. I’ll take BPA over broken glass.

  3. I totally understand your hesitation with glass.
    I pack my jars in strong plastic milk crates surrounded by paper and not stacked on shelves or in a manner that there is no where for them to fall.

  4. Glass is definitely not for emergency situations. Canned goods in tins with a minimum of salt and additives would be ideal, but when you’re hungry you’ll eat what’s there. Rain water, swimming pool water, and hoof print water can all be filtered and bleached for human consumption. Freeze dried is a good alternative for light weight and long storage time but must be re-hydrated, possibly with the juice from canned goods. In dire situations, the survivor will be the ones which ignore the carcinogens and has a full complement of food and water. Just my humble opinion.

  5. Wondering about storage of Dehydrated stuff like Mushrooms..
    I have just begun dehydrating these, with a Dehydrator which has heat as well as fan. Did a trial run of some mushrooms yesterday, and got them fairly “crispy”, of course, once they set out for a bit, absorbed some moisture.

    what I was planning was dehydrate up a bunch of mushrooms, put in containers, and stick in freezer.

    some folks have said, no, put in dark cupboard/fridge. My thoughts on freezer, was this would much extend the “shelf life”..

    wondering if anyone has knowledge of what is best/is there a reason not to put in freezer/how long would “home” dehydgrated mushrooms last in fridge?

    (I have an extra fridge, so could do that, however, I would sure hate in six months to discover they had gone bad)

Comments are closed.