Canned foods that are best for survival storage

Canned Food That’s Best For Survival Storage

My opinion on the best canned food for survival storage that can be bought from the grocery store, or even online. Some (of the many) examples shown above. Keep reading for recommendations.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to establish some survival food storage is canned food. I’m not going to get into more advanced prepping as it relates to wide ranging food diversification and storage methods. Rather, I’m going to keep it simple..

I’m focusing on canned food that meet several criteria which in my opinion are particularly important for survival, and efficiency of storage.

  1. Calorie density
  2. Protein
  3. Nutritional food diversification

Canned Food Calories #1 Priority For Survival

Since we’re talking survival, the number one priority is simple. It’s calories. Regardless of nutrition (at least initially), you must consume enough calories to survive. And the general guideline is approximately 2,000 calories per day.

Some canned foods contain surprisingly few calories. While others are packed with lots of calories and are much more beneficial to survival in and of itself.

Something to keep in mind when considering which canned foods to stock up on… In addition to the food type, you should also be considering the calories per can.

Calories Per Can

You might (should!) check total calories per can. Usually the calories are listed “per serving”. But sometimes they include calories per can on the label. If not, then look for calories per serving, and then the total number of servings in the can. Multiply, and now you know the total calories per can.

Example: I picked up a can of Chef BOYARDEE Mini Ravioli which indicates “Servings About 2” and “Calories 220”, which total about 440 calories per can. Simple.. And now you have a better idea of calorie density of that particular canned food while determining what’s best for your own survival storage.

Calorie-dense canned foods will be advantageous in survival situations where food may be hard to come by. As in, a time of SHTF. And/or food scarcity due to a number of possible factors. We are definitely living in uncertain times.

Most people have limited space for their survival food storage. So that’s why I’m focusing on, and recommending that you also focus on calories first. The more calories in canned food, the better for storage efficiency. Here’s a glaring example..

I just checked one of my cans of green beans. It only has about 50 calories. That’s all.

Corned Beef Hash (and Roast Beef Hash)

I also just checked one of my canned corned beef hash (and roast beef hash which has the same). Each can boasts 760 calories!! And we’re talking the same size can as the green beans.. See what I mean about what’s best in this regard? Calories and calorie-density versus can size.

As a bonus, a can of corned beef hash contains about 36 grams of protein. These factors (in my opinion) makes it one of the best, and one of my favorite canned foods for survival storage. Calorie dense, and plenty of protein. And it even tastes good..

(Pack of 12)

Spam is another canned food that’s among the best for survival storage

Spam. It’s very calorie dense, and packed with protein. Here’s a photo I took of the nutrition label. We’re looking at 1,080 calories and 96 grams of protein! Now that’s what you call, survival in a can..

(Pack of 12)


Here’s another good choice for canned food. A DAK ham (or similar brand).

It has 800 calories and 72 grams of protein in one can.

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m focusing on canned foods for the purpose of calories (efficient use of survival storage), and protein content.

DAK Ham Nutrition Facts Label

Other Canned Foods For Survival Prepping & Preparedness

Hormel Smoked Ham. In the photo up top, you can see three stacked 5 oz. cans. They equate to about the same volume as say, canned corned beef hash. The three combined cans have 675 calories and 68 grams of protein. A bit more expensive though, but it sure tastes good..

(Pack of 12)

Chef Boyardee Ravioli. I grabbed a can of it and read the label. The mini ravioli can shown above has about 440 calories and 14 grams of protein. There’s not as much protein as others listed above (or quite as many calories), but again, you see where I’m going..

(10 Cans)

Baked Beans. I pulled out a can of Bush’s chili beans (red beans) to see what it had. And it’s likely similar to other cans of baked beans (just read the label). This one has 420 calories and 21 grams of protein in a 16 oz. can.

(per can)

Canned Food Diversification

Food Diversification. Your own may include a quantity of various grocery store canned foods. That’s one thing that I do… It’s fast, easy, available, and will store well for several years (actually quite longer than that – see link below).

Note that this is not a recommendation to use ONLY canned food in your food storage, but it is advisable to include them in your overall inventory for diversification and variety.

Note that anything with tomato sauce, which is highly acidic, generally should be consumed within 3 years. Also, low acidic canned food items like corn and beans will last a very long time, but still advisable to consume under 5 years. Canned meats are about the same. But again, my experience has clearly indicated longer shelf life than they say.

[ Read: Use-by, Best-by, Sell-by | Food Expiration Dates ]

When you are considering what foods to store, and other food or cooking staples to go along with your food storage plan, don’t ignore the possibility of appetite fatigue — which is where a variety of foods are important — including canned foods.

Diversified Grocery Store Canned Foods For Prepping

Here are a few ordinary grocery store canned food categories – ideas to get you thinking about the possibilities. Some of these are low in calories, but obviously serve well for a more ‘well rounded’ canned food storage.


  • Vegetables, Beans, Carrots, Corn, etc. (low calories)
  • Soups (fairly low in calories)
  • Meats, Chicken, Beef, Ham, Spam (excellent)
  • Tuna, Salmon, Shellfish (good)
  • Canned Stews (medium to high calories)
  • Chili (pretty good)
  • Canned Pasta, Ravioli, Spaghetti’Os (medium calories)
  • Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Sauce (low calories)
  • Fruits (low to medium, but diversified)
  • Potatoes, Hash-browns (medium)

Personally, what I have done in this category of grocery store canned foods – is having primarily focused on a variety that are both high in calories and protein (some I’ve shown you above). Also various canned meats – chicken, some canned beef, some pork/ham products. Spam too – which is technically meat, right? Seafood related too, such as canned tuna, salmon, sardines. I’ve not forgotten canned veggies either, since I do have the space for it all.

Speaking of grocery store canned foods, what are your recommendations for canned food-related assets for storing back in your food storage?

[ Read:

Canned Meats For Survival Protein

Spam Shelf Life, and What It’s Made Of

FOOD STORAGE – Date and Rotate ]

How To Can Chicken Breast At Home (DIY)


  1. I’ve gotten shredded Parmesan cheese in sealed jars. I think that will help with appetite fatigue. I also purchased jarred ghee which I haven’t worked with yet, but I’m told it’s a good butter substitute.

    1. Ghee is butter that has been heated and the milk solids removed. Use it just like butter in cooking. I like it and it has a good shelf life, and after opening it lasts a good while as well.
      One of these days, I am going to try to can some butter or buy the canned type.

  2. Perfect topic this is, I have recently gone thru canned inventory and started to consume cans expired 1-2 yrs ago in order to replace them. My wife and children are unaware of this and would not consume it other wise. I did throw away several cans after opening them and determined that it was un edible. Everyone including my self are in good conditions after consuming them with out any side effects of any kind, including diarrhea , upset stomach, bloating, or any side effects I would have suspected. I truly believe we are in Dark times and I need to be more on top of hidden stashes.

  3. After an 18 month absence, my local grocery finally had Hormell canned ham back in stock !!

    But now, no Hormell canned turkey (light & dark meat). What ??

    I have a good selection of canned meats, veggies, and fruits.

    First in. First out. Good rule to rotate.

    1. I buy my hormel canned meats online (Amazon) they are priced sometimes cheaper than wallyworld and are packaged for no damage deliveries. SOME ADVICE, I buy my canned foods and freeze dried foods in cooler seasons as to not have frozen or boiled deliveries due to adverse weather. I have known ‘seasoned preppers’ who have made major errors both in their seasonal ordering and home storage of their canned or freeze dried foods because of when and where they procure or store it..

  4. Growing up as kids (80’s) we used to feed our black&white Shepard 1 can of Spaghetti’Os mixed with kibble for dinner.

    One day one of my fathers field workers saw the garage steps lined with cans of Spaghetti’Os and said to my mom “hey that’s what I had for dinner last night!” Mom said “that’s what the dog had for dinner too!”

  5. Keep in mind, when you store canned goods: Heat is the enemy. Monitor the temperature of your canned food storage area.

  6. We made the bi-annual pilgrimage down to Costco on Monday and was surprised how few canned vegetables they had in stock. We picked up several cases of canned sweet peas, black beans, salmon, along with several large bags of quinoa and other long shelf life items. They only had one selection of canned corn and it was in small cans with the pull top lid so we didn’t get them. Luckily we were able to get several cases of canned corn at Walmart on the way back and added to the pantry things we didn’t grow in the garden this year.

  7. During the “Covid Summer” (last year) I tried to avoid ‘appetite fatigue’ by planning our meals to be in four major categories. Dinner was either “American’, like meatloaf, burgers, Mac and cheese, etc.; Mediterranean, French and Italian mostly; Mexican, and Asian. Leftovers were creative…and usually for lunch the next day! You may like Indian food. Plan your categories, not just “what’ for dinner. Make sense? And all can be tossed together as ‘soup’ eventually. We also use bread crumbs to thicken our soups, like vegetable. So good.

    1. We keep a 1 gallon ice cream bucket in the freezer. All left overs are tossed in and when it’s full we make a pot of soup. Keeps waste to a minimum and makes for a very good and cheap pot of soup.

  8. Interesting read.
    I have a few cans of spam, but no other ‘canned’ meat. Maybe I’m being foolish here, but small game and deer are plentiful around me. Squirrels, rabbits, fish, etc. I’m sure with increasing pressure on these resources, they will dwindle. The best way to preserve meat is ALIVE.

    1. Just a question or two here, but how many neighbors do you have around you ( that have the same thinking as you ), as to how long will the wild game last if you or your neighbors are out looking for wild game ?

      My Dad use to tell the story that his father told him, that in the 1880’s and 1890’s ( my grandfather was born in 1872 ), there was all kinds of wild game on the prairie around the homestead and the river valley where they lived, but by the 1900, most if not all of the wild game disappeared ( or hiding ).

      The deer didn’t came back in numbers until the late 30’s, early 40’saccording to Dad . Turkeys was reintroduced about 50 yrs ago. And pheasants were introduced in the early 1900s ( from china ).

      When and if push comes to shove, yes the wildlife will probably still be there, but you’ll have to work for it a lot harder, if you you can find any at all. And then, how many neighbors do you have that will be of the same thinking as you? Just wondering.

      I live next to a large city and when I try to tell my son what might happen, he just poo poos me off and tells me not worry ( he reminds me of his mother, my late wife. She always told me not to worry, that it’ll never happen. )

      1. Alfie,

        Like Plainsmedic, I figure wild game harvesting as a viable supplement to my preps…but like you, I know that resource will dwindle pretty fast as others around me do the same…

        Even where I live…remote by most folks standards…our deer herd is probably 20 times what it was 40 years ago when most folks killed deer year-round to supplement their food….

        Have read that, back in the early days of our country, most of the deer herd in the eastern, “settled” parts, had been decimated…one of the reasons that .32 caliber rifles became popular…why waste precious lead using .36-.45 caliber rifles to shoot rabbit and squirrel when opportunities for deer were rare? Hence, the popularity of the “Kentucky squirrel rifle”….the demand for .50 and .58 caliber rifles only came about as folks began to venture west and started to encounter larger (and more dangerous) critters….

      2. alfie
        Good question. I suspect answer would be quite varied, depending upon many factors. For us big game is moose. One moose would feed the neighborhood for some time. Likely we would all gather, with out pressure canners & jars and have an assembly line of processing the meat, then canning it etc.
        Ditto when the salmon are running & someone puts out a net…
        When we raised meat chickens, in-laws & neighbors would come over. We’d set up an assembly line & everyone would go home with chicken.

    2. We have a deer herd here thanks to Delilah who keeps having twin babies. We feed them and water them and they come to visit everyday. It would be hard to kill them but then hunger is a great motivator. But don’t touch Delilah. She even likes oreo cookies! We also have a huge herd of Elk that visit at night. No problem, we have motion lights.

  9. Great topic. We have about 25% of our preps as (store) canned goods, with self-canned 25%, dry goods (rice, oatmeal, etc) 25%, and freeze-dried about 25%. Not including what we have in our chest freezer – that’s rotated and calculated differently.

    We try to balance the canned with veggies, meats and fish, soups and stews, and fruit. You can still find some great deals with canned goods, but getting harder. Diversity is our strength.

  10. Lots of people have been calling me about buying Freeze dried food. I tell them unless they are rich it is to late for that. I have said to buy canned food, especially meat as they probably won’t have to store it long before they have to start eating it.

  11. I marvel at the various canned meats that are available in the US. The various flavours of spam, roast beef, chicken. Where I live, we have spam, a no name knock off of spam (think pink meat paste squirted into a spam can), corned beef, ham (super salty) and turkey (its very similar to the spam knock off but in smaller tins). These are in our stored foods but, one family member has blood pressure issues so we use them sparingly. Lots of canned seafoods, they are more available and varied than other meats. A different family member recently developed a seafood allergy so that has changed things for us. We hope to supplement our diet with hunting but are relatively new to the whole hunting thing and have not been very successful. It has been fun going out with the family though. I think the quality time with the family is just as important as actually harvesting the game,

  12. Pretty much just store stuff we will eat,
    Spam, corned beef, tuna, sardines, beans, green beans, peas, corn.
    Some bottled stuff, pasta sauces, but have been finding these dont keep as well anymore for some reason.
    Trying to not be too crazy with stored foods, its been a while since everything was supposed to come unglued but it hasnt, so am not trying to build so far out that we waste it, can only eat so much canned stuff, prefer fresh so rather take my chances, stuff like grains is a different story.

  13. While I store some canned foods like soup , roast beef hash , chili ECT most of my canned food is focused on just meats. I store pasta rice potato oatmeal along with freeze dried veggies so I can make my own meals. I don’t eat canned veggies so I don’t store them ( I do have a case or so of each ) Canned foods are a good place to start because they are cheap and easy to just grab at the store

    1. “Canned foods are a good place to start because they are cheap and easy to just grab at the store”.
      -> That’s exactly right, and why I emphasized calories & protein (and whatever diversification possible) for canned foods for one’s survival storage. It may be surprising how much ‘bang for the buck’ you can get with this principal, at least for starters – if you check the labels. Not that I would want to consume two cans of spam a day to get my 2,000 calories, but there’s a good bit of choice out there for various fairly high calorie canned foods. Not saying that it’s all wonderfully nutritious for regular consumption all the time, but, we’re talking survival storage here (grin)..

      1. Ken, I would rather consume 2 cans of spam or canned high protein content meats rather the have canned veggies (any type) with a average 70 calories contents per can, which equates to ridiculous approx 30 cans daily to get close to a 2000 calorie intake, we as preppers need to gear our food preps to calories intake, first and quantity second. When I first started prepping decades ago I never had a thought about calories per can versus minimum daily calories needed. I have known “preppers” who thought having just vegan attitude basis as a survival standard.

        1. Yes, that’s exactly my point! Thanks for reiterating this important detail..

  14. If I may add my 2 cents worth.
    Don’t forget the “manual” can openers, 2 of them would be better.

    Also IMHO these ne fandangeled pull top lods do not store as well/long as the original canopener style lids.

    1. And yes, one of these days I’ll learn to Typo and sprell more better LOLOL

  15. I have lots of dehydrated pre packaged soups, chili.
    The namebrand is bear creek, I would categorize them in with canned food.
    These are easy to make but they are better if your able to add meats and veggies to bulk them up.
    One of my buckets is only the chicken soup variety with multiple cans of chicken meat.- that meat will be replaced every other year.

    1. Those packages of Knoor noodles and such are good keepers too. We had some old boxes of cheap mac n cheese. The powdered cheese was not worth keeping but the macaroni was fresh enough. So repackaged the macaroni.

  16. Horse: I’m with you! Love Bear Creek soups, and have bags and bags of them in my storage. I use fresh rotisserie chicken for the Chicken Noodle, and make homemade herbed dumplings for the top. The Chili is very good with the addition of some ground beef, a can of corn and a can of Bush’s Chili Hot Beans. Throw some ham cubes and cheddar cheese into the Potato soup. There isn’t a one of those soups that I don’t like or can’t “doctor up’ to taste almost totally homemade! Don’t forget the cornbread and oyster crackers!

    1. You did it..
      You went a little further.
      Now I need to try that.

      I only added meat and occasionally cubed tomatoes and or carrots.
      and a little parmesan cheese.

  17. The hormel brand has been a mainstay of quality for decades, my favorite by far is the canned smoked ham, rated by the masses on utube far above any canned large hams and I concur……size and taste can’t be beat, my favorite using this is one can of this ham, in a mixture with 4 tablespoons of mayo, and 6 tablespoons of dill relish makes a great ham salad meal served on bread and it takes less than a minute to prep. Also stock cases of hormel completes meals they have about 15 to 20 different selections, store at room temp, and heat for a minute in the microwave. The hormel canned items have a good two year storage life, and the completes are about the same and again can be stored at room temps.

  18. Hi, awesome article. FYI I met a guy in the canning industry, and he showed me how they reduced the thickness of metal in cans to save a substantial amount of money in manufacturing costs. Old cans would last for decades, but I’m not sure about modern cans, I actually had some in storage I expected to last for decades, but they were compromised after a few years.

    1. Especially the pull top cans. There is a seal waiting to pop. Dollar General still has Campbells soup cans with a regular top. It is also a slightly larger can.

  19. The only canned foods I have ever had any trouble with are acidic fruits. I have had several different can failures (swelling & leaking) in less than 5 years.

    I would recommend any tomato products be put up or purchased in glass.

    Anything that is in plastic I would use within the ‘best by/use by’ range.

    Prefer traditional cans to pull tabs,


  20. So heres a thought, with the concern over calories and protein etc, supplements make more sense. Maybe we all need to do some research on supplements and see if we can find some that will keep?
    More stuff to think on.

    1. My primary recommendations are at least the following two supplements..
      –> Multivitamin
      –> Vitamin C

      1. I know for most folks the vitamin c is a big one, i forgot about that type of supplement 😳, was thinking protein supplement, like spirutine or muscle milk etc, i wonder if re packaging in individual packs then storing in vac sealed jars would extend their life?
        Stirring up a quick shake might be a good add on to keep energy levels etc up where they will need to be?

      2. Last trip to Wally’s I purchased more C, D, and multi’s. Should now have over a two-year supply of each. Have also reached a full year’s worth of all my daily prescriptions. Most now are made in China, should we go kinetic with them those supply lines are gone….maybe all those bio-labs we have in Ukraine and Somalia can pick up the slack…if they stop tinkering with new ways to kill us…….

  21. I am flogging the dead horse here,
    forget about Vienna sausages. Have thrown out many cans. Next is the fruits even the mixed fruits. Watch them closely they are a mess to clean up or begin to bulge. Also cans of drinks like coke with sugar. These will deteriorate too. Messy sticky spray out on other items.

  22. greeting from SCOTLAND
    i am just catching up with you lot and took on board the info about canned goods,calories and protien will watch out for this.
    btw just got a presto canner from usa as you pay a fortune for them here and used this week to can chicken thighs using LE PARFAIT JARS as they are easier to get than bell.mason jars. going for brisket beef next week to try.
    never thought about spices etc so thats thing on my list.
    any way will keep on looking at the articles and the comments as there is a lot of info that i did not think about so thank once more and keep on posting.

    1. Scotty, Welcome aboard. For long-term staple foods check out these articles:

      1. thanks for the welcome . will look at the articles,as i am testing the water so to speak.

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