Grocery Store Canned Foods For Preparedness

Food Diversification. Your own may include a quantity of various grocery store canned foods. That’s what I do… It’s fast, easy, available, and will store well for several years.

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. (As well as an overall balance and variety of nutritional value.)

Some canned foods contain surprisingly few calories (though possibly high in fiber and nutritional assets – such as vegetables). While others are packed with lots of calories (possibly high in fat) and more beneficial to ‘survival’.

Calorie-dense canned foods may be advantageous in some survival situations where food may be hard to come by (logical).

Here’s a thought… In a SHTF world, we will likely be burning lots more calories than we do in a fairly modern sedentary world.

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.

It seems that almost any food can be bought it cans. By the way, here’s some information regarding canned food shelf life. Generally speaking, it’s suggested to consume most grocery store canned foods within two years. Although with that said, most will be fine much longer than that – mostly safe, but perhaps with less desirable palatability.

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.

[ 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 Preparedness

Here are a few ordinary grocery store canned food categories-ideas to get you thinking about the possibilities.


  • Vegetables, Beans, Carrots, Corn, etc.
  • Soups
  • Meats, Chicken, Beef, Ham
  • SPAM
  • Tuna, Salmon, Shellfish
  • Canned Stews
  • Chili
  • Canned Pasta, Ravioli, Spaghetti’Os
  • Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Sauce
  • Fruits
  • Potatoes, Hash-browns

Personally, in this category of grocery store canned foods, I have focused on a variety of protein products. Various canned meats – mostly chicken, some canned beef, some pork products. And Spam – which is technically meat, right? Fish related too, such as tuna, salmon, sardines. I also have a decent supply of canned spinach which is very healthy and nutritionally dense especially with potassium. Other veggies and products too.

 Don’t forget about proper food storage rotation!
[ Read: FOOD STORAGE – Date and Rotate ]

You might check total calories per can. Usually the calories are listed “per serving”. So look for #servings-per-can, and multiply times calories-per-serving. (Sometimes it does show total calories per can, but not that often…)

Example: I picked up a can of Chef BOYARDEE Mini Ravioli which indicates “Servings About 2” and “Calories 220”, which totals about 440 calories per can. Simple…

[ Read: How To Can Chicken Breast At Home (DIY) ]

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


  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. I’ve found that the cans that don’t need a can opener (pop top?), the food doesn’t last anywhere near as long as normally sealed cans.
    Something I’ve been thinking about for a while — Dick Proenneke.
    At the age of 51 he built a cabin in the Alaskan bush & lived there essentially alone for the next 30 years. There are a couple of movies and a book covering his life at Twin Lakes. There is also a website & you tube videos for a quick look…
    Well anyway, from studying wildlife he learned that animals have a rather limited diet. He tried this & said he never felt better. That a limited diet didn’t confuse his digestive system…
    To him food was fuel.
    His food supplies reflected having limited refrigeration, etc.
    One of the things he relied upon was oatmeal.
    When this covid thing started, I was in a grocery store & some guy, carrying a large bag of oatmeal & extremely pleased with making such a find was saying to everyone within earshot “I’m okay now, I’ve got a big bag of oatmeal” or something to that nature. My first thoughts were of Dick Proenneke and that a simple bag of oatmeal made this guys day!
    I don’t know, but if you are really hungry, appetite fatigue won’t be a concern…?
    I’ve always felt that “If you are particular about what you eat, you are not really hungry.”
    Rant over.

  4. 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.

  5. Dollar General has a $1.00, tuna fish size, can of ham and the $3.50 of corned beef. The canned ham makes a good ham salad mix.

  6. 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!”

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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 manlike 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.

  10. 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 al 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Ken, Thanks for addressing the issue of canned foods for those of us that are still working within a 2 career household. We both work long shifts with the occasional double shift thrown in. When we get off work or go shopping, canned foods are the go-to for emergency meals and end-of-shift meals so our inventory gets used and rotated frequently. As I stated before, our garden is small and produces more flowers than food. The backyard is an extended living room for me and the bathroom of choice for my dog. We do not can our own food for now though recent ice storms have shown me that canning would be a wise and prudent skill to learn if the power goes out for extended periods of time. Preparing to survive is an ongoing education and self reliance is a goal to be worked on. My survival pantry consists of heavy duty shelving in my garage with a good supply of canned foods with a mix of freeze dried foods on standby. We have rice, beans and pasta as well as cans and bottles of pasta sauce. To add variety, I will buy tinned meats from the asian markets which add variety to eating protein from a can. ( Unagi – tinned, precooked and marinated eel fillets served with hot rice and nori, smoked mussels and smoked baby clams served with crackers.) We also like Mexican food and we have equal amounts of both Menudo and Pozole. At the end of a long day at work, these are all easy to fix, good nutrition and they taste good.

  13. 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.

  14. 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,

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