Canned Food Storage For Survival Preparedness


Keep in mind that when considering which canned foods to stock up on — you should be factoring the calories per can as well as an overall balance and variety of food types and nutritional value.

Some canned foods contain surprisingly few calories (though possibly high in fiber and nutritional assets) while others are packed with lots of calories (possibly high in fat).

Although some calorie-dense canned foods may be high in fat and considered fairly unhealthy for a modern prolonged diet, these attributes may be advantageous in some survival situations where food may be hard to come by.

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

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.

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.

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

Canned Vegetables, Beans, Carrots, Corn, etc.

Canned Soups

Canned Meats, Chicken, Beef, Ham

Canned SPAM

Canned Fish, Tuna, Salmon, Shellfish

Canned Stews

Canned Chili

Canned Pasta, Ravioli, Spaghetti’Os

Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Sauce

Canned Fruits

Canned Potatoes, Hash-browns

Don’t forget about proper food storage rotation!

Total calories per can equals the calories posted multiplied by the number of servings per can.

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…

How To Can Chicken Breast At Home (DIY)

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

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  1. It was until just recently I learned that you could get canned bread, canned butter, and just about anything else. I guess you always could, I’ve just never thought about bread being in a can. A can shelf rotational system really helps with the first in first out rotation.

    1. There is a recipe on the internet for making your own canned butter and lots of other things.

      1. B & M baked bean company makes a brown bread (molasses flavor). Many years ago that was a very popular thing for working class folks to eat in the North East USA….especially Boston area. Brown bread and beans or brown bread and hot dogs. You could just eat the bread alone of course. Tastes great with Butter or cream cheese on it.

    1. I love sardines! They are not only for storage. I like to have them at least once or twice a week. Kippered herring also. YUM!!

  2. A few weeks ago I had a can of Dinty Moore Beef stew with an expiration date of 1998. The can was not bulging Well, when I ate it, I did not get sick but it left a really greasy taste in my mouth. It took a while to get that taste out of my mouth. I threw the rest of it out. In a SHTF situation, one can get by with out of date food….

    1. When in doubt, as long as it’s cooked above 165-degrees-F for at least several minutes – to kill potential bacteria, then most likely you’ll be safe. Use your nose too. If it doesn’t smell right, when in doubt throw it out. Like you said though – it might not taste like new. Some of the nutritional value will likely be reduced too. But for survival, food is food…

      1. You can’t make canned food with anaerobic bacteria safe to eat by cooking it. The same goes for other fresh ingredients like meat that has been spoiled. You will kill the bacteria when you cook it but the dangerous toxins (by products of the bacteria) will remain in the food.

    2. That’s funny because even Dinty Moore stew that was made a week ago tastes exactly how you described your 1998 can.

  3. Canned bacon, canned cheese, Vienna sausage, canned nuts, olives.

    Some of the best foods to store (high calorie and/or important for physical or mental health) are in bottles, jars, or boxes — not cans, but just about as easy to store: honey, (keeps forever), corn syrup (keeps forever) salad oil, coconut oil, oatmeal, crackers, cookies, dried fruits, boxed juices, instant hot chocolate, flavored instant coffee, shelf-stable milk, Ensure, bouillon, gravy mixes, pudding mixes, ready-made pudding, jello, ramen noodles, instant potatoes, instant rice, pancake mix, pickles, cocoa, tea, sugar, salt, vinegar, baking powder.

    Don’t forget dog and cat food if you have pets.


  4. Do the folks on this site really eat that much canned food? I do have canned chicken,some beans , spam,canned hams ect for short term problems but only a couple of cases of canned veggie’s. I believe in storing staples and freeze dried veggie’s and meat.I also can my own stew,chili,ham,beef and chicken. If you are doing a rotation of all these canned products you are not eating very well IMHO. I store rice,pasta,beans,oatmeal and lots of spices and things like brown sugar and bullion to vary the diet. I just never understood basing your food storage on things I wouldn’t eat unless I had to.

    1. Poorman,
      You are right that we should store mainly the foods we eat.

      I, for one, buy mainly fresh and frozen veggies, and so haven’t stocked too many of these. However, I do use canned fruits and I use a lot of canned soup in cooking (tomato, mushroom, chicken). Cream soups added to meat drippings make easy and good gravy.

      Also, some foods are better in cans, such as vacuum packed nuts. Also, where can you get olives, pimentos, etc. except in cans?

      I buy a lot of whole grain crackers and pimento cheese spread in jars. They make great snacks that I eat when I am trying to keep from eating too many cookies, ice cream, etc. They don’t need refrigeration. In a SHTF situation, a meal of whole grain crackers, jar cheese, and canned or dried fruit would keep you going without having to cook. That means you don’t give away your position with smells or fire.

      1. What if you live in the city? how can you cook Like on an open charcoal grill without people smelling it? Just wondering

        1. honeymom…… opinion: buy a portable one burner “butane” stove and a few extra cans of butane fuel. I have one and have used it many times in doors during storms, loss of electricity etc, Get one on ebay for about 30 bucks.

      2. There are more reasons to buy canned/bottled foods… you can use the liquid in them if you have a water shortage. When the electricity goes out all over the area (like if we are hit with an EMP) and the water company can’t pump water to your house, you will be GLAD to get the liquid in the canned/bottled foods.

    2. Poorman, Your point is definitely valid…one reason to store food you don’t eat would be to routinely help others, while having food you would eat in emergency. Our family has also changed many foods to dehydrated and home canned. We store frozen vegetables,and I can some as space is needed in the freezer. I stock commercially canned of things I have had a lack of in past,or trouble carrots,sweet peas. If I have too much of an item, I take it off the need list and when the next lot gets close to date,I find someone who needs it, a food pantry, a neighbor. and replace it with same iter or an alternate one..that way I have my food insurance and it does not waste. String beans we love simmered down low and the 2 of us can eat three 15 oz. cans almost any night.12 cans=3 meals in non SHTF. 12 cans after SHTF=12 meals. Hope to be able to secure 6 bushels this year.. another item we stock we normally do not eat is gravy mix. I pefer to make own gravy/green chili, but if fats are limited,will use gravy mix and water as alternate part of the time to stretch meals to serve more persons.

  5. I keep a good mix of canned food AND other food that is preserved differently. Dry goods like wheat, rice, and beans. Grocery store canned food. #10 cans of all sorts from emergency food suppliers. Home and Professionaly dehydrated food. Home canned good. It is good to diversify and canned foods are one part of that. When there is a sale on any of the canned foods that I normally eat, I take advantage of it and add to my shelves.

  6. Learn to can your own food. Get a pressure canner. You are simply wasting money on a lesser product if you purchase canned chicken or beef. YOU control what goes into the can. YOUR tried recipes, which you love, are what you are canning. No water needed. No cooking needed. No fuel needed. No cooking smells going everywhere. No time cooking food. No refrigeration needed. Can what you will be pouring on your rice and pasta. Do not worry about fat, SEEK IT. No one will be on a diet to lose weight, but struggling to keep from losing it.

    1. This was one of my points to Ision. I would much prefer to eat the foods that I can as opposed to what can be bought in the store. I see the picture’s they show when they talk about storage and ALL I see is store bought canned goods. I know you are supposed to rotate your food source but I eat very little of that except maybe a few cans of beans or a couple of cans of fruit a month that it would never get rotated. Canning your own is the way to go,

  7. Nutella and peanut butter. You can take a spoon full of Nutella and mix it with dry oatmeal and eat it just like that. Tastes like those no bake cookies. You can mix some peanut butter, honey and dry oatmeal, roll into balls and have a good snack. So many combos you can do.

    Remember eating too much dehydrated fruit and not drinking enough water will make your tummy sick..

  8. I do not recommend tuna as a long term storage food. I had bought some good canned tuna in water a couple of years ago and opened one after several months and the whole can was slush. The tuna has disintegrated inside the can to almost nothing. I ended up opening the others too and they were all the same – slush!

    1. Last month,I had a can of “tuna”,oil-pack/ was in date, but just. Thought, we’ll have tuna salad tonight… opened, great big fin on top, looked more like cat food..probably was. through buying fish.

  9. Must have canned goods always. Good for survival remedy at all times. Just look for expiration dates as well

  10. I was hungry a few days ago and mixed up some tomato and pepper salsa from my garden, 2 packs of chicken ramen, and a can of chicken. It turned out pretty good. One prepping skill people rarely talk about is creative ways of putting simple meals together with short/long term storage. There are a lot of keyboard commandos who think they will be fighting bad guys every day and they will be in such high regard that they will be fed by all there minions. Most days may be boring during an shtf event. I never said defense is not important, but if you can’t keep on living what’s the point. Let’s just make the best of it. God Bless.

  11. live by myself,home can veg, fruit all I can get ahold of, where is the best place to store it in a house,no basement,

    1. for canned goods,the coolest location you can find.usually low…bottom of a closet..pack with covers…eeerrr i mean insulation.might want to invest in an indoor/outdoor thermometer to monitor temps of your options.

  12. Hey, All,

    I am looking to find out which canned meat or fish last the longest and tastes the best even when past date. I am planning to bump up our canned meat/fish supply.

    Any advice?

    Blessings to all

    1. I think ‘SPAM’ lasts ‘forever’??
      …sorry, couldn’t resist ;)

      With that said, I have been eating ‘canned chicken’ such as in the picture above – which is several years old. It tastes fine. I’ve also had no problems with tuna several years old. I have a stack of canned DAK hams which have also been fine. If they’re stored away from sunlight and heat, they’ll do fine beyond their ‘best by’ dates…

    2. @ Shepherdess
      Sometimes you just have to ignore Ken. HAHAHA

      I can my own chicken, bacon, pork, venison, beef and salmon. Some rather old, and all GREAT! also a LOT LOT cheaper than store purchased meats.
      Popped open a jar of chicken two nights ago, ohhhhhhhh man is it good, and actually taste like chicken not that stuff ya buy at Wally World.
      Would suggest you look into canning your own if you can can, hehehe

    3. agree with Ken.

      also, don’t forget Sardines…they have a longer posted date than most canned meat, and again, last longer

  13. Thanks everyone…
    As far as buying canned meat, thankfully we do like canned sardines, and they pack a good nutritional punch. Costco sells 6 pack of Four Seasons sardines in just olive oil and salt = $9.99
    Guess what when I bought them last year they were $7.99.
    A 25% mark up (oy!)
    Amazon has the same product same size etc.. 12 cans for 22.99 so that is like $11.50 for the same $9.99 I can get at Costco.
    Watch that inflation ya’ll
    Thankfully we also have plenty-o-lamb meat here (frozen)

    1. I buy canned sardines at food lion,(grocery store in NC) for $1 a can.
      taste great. also potted meat, for 50 cents a can. that & crackers make a lunch for me.
      I’m curious how you can venison or any other meat

      1. You use a pressure canner. We can hamburger, beef, pork, lots of chicken,venison etc. We never have tried canning fish tho.
        We are actually still eating hamburger and bacon that we canned in 2012.

  14. home canning is great, but unfortunately those “Cans” break if dropped and you lose all it’s contents. Unlike a store bought can, if dropped it only dents. Great thread

  15. I ate a can of tamales that was expired for 5 years the other day, tasted like normal canned tamales (not that great) they would be the same in 5 more years. Stored where the temperature fluctuates from 38 – 90 over a year. Canned food lasts until the seal is broken.

  16. I think it is important to note that all things canned do not have the same shelf life time span.
    Anything with tomato sauce, which is highly acidic, won’t last more than 3 years. Same with things containing vinegar.

    Low acidic items like corn and beans will last a very long time, but still under 5 years. Canned meats are about the same.

    Ideally you want to use the canned stuff in the first few years of ‘the survival’. As for meat, I would suggest dehydrating it, and storing it in vacuum sealed bags. heavily salted meats dried will go a long way.

    But stop this dreaming that canned goods will go beyond 5 years; that just isn’t reasonable.

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