Best Canned Meat For Survival – Protein and Calories

Best Canned Meats

Why am I writing about this? Because canned meat is one of several excellent shelf stable foods for preparedness. Good protein and better nutritional calories than processed junk foods.

Our bodies absolutely NEED protein. It can come from a variety of foods. Some have more protein than others. Some, much more. As in meat. This post is about canned meat.

Yes, canned meat has lots of protein. You might be wondering about the best canned meat to store on your shelves. First though, let’s have a quick look at daily protein recommendations / requirements…

(jump to list)
best choices listed at bottom

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances) for daily intake of protein. It varies on age, gender, weight, height, and daily exercise.

However as a guideline, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends similarly, though with a bit higher minimum and a bit lower maximum. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a lower limit of protein intake similar to the ADA.

With that said, a generalization for middle aged average males may be ~ 60 grams protein requirement per day. A middle aged woman may require ~ 45 grams per day.

Protein Sources

Consuming a variety of complete proteins is recommended. A complete protein is a protein that contains a good amount of each of the nine essential amino acids required in the human diet.

Generally speaking, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are complete protein sources.

Meat/Dairy examples

  • Eggs
  • Chicken breast
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Milk
  • Lean beef
  • Tuna
  • Turkey breast
  • Fish
  • Shrimp

Vegan/plant-based examples for protein intake

  • Buckwheat
  • Hummus and pita
  • Soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame beans)
  • Peanut butter on toast or some other bread
  • Beans and rice
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp and chia seeds
  • Spirulina

What Are The Best Canned Meats?

Okay enough already… what canned meats are good choices to have?

 Home-canned meat is always a good option. You might pressure-can some of your own meat. And/or simply buy some canned meat at the grocery store.

[ Read: Pressure Canning Chicken – How to Do it Yourself ]


I recommend that you diversify your choices while acquiring a variety of canned meats.

Note: During a grid-down situation more than 24-48 hours, whatever meat that you have in your freezer will thaw. Then what? (Canned meat won’t spoil when the power goes out.)

Is there a “best canned meat”?

Well there are a number of popular brands offering a variety of beef, chicken, pork, tuna, and more…

The products below are examples of most-reviewed and highest rated choices.

I keep a variety of ALL of them. We rotate through them over a period of time, and simply replace as we consume.

A generally accepted shelf life of canned meats is about 2 years. With that said, it’s not going to “go bad”. Instead the nutritional value will diminish over time, as well as texture and taste.

[ Read: “Use by” “Best by” “Sell by” Dates ]

(no particular order)


I wrote an article on canned SPAM awhile ago. Yes, it’s meat! You can read it here.

In short, SPAM is made of Pork with Ham.

There are 42 grams of protein in a typical 12 oz can:
>> SPAM Classic
(view on amzn)

Some might consider SPAM the best canned meat! Ask someone from the Hawaiian Islands and they will likely agree. Residents there have the highest per capita consumption of SPAM in the United States!

Canned Beef

The most popular canned meat in the ‘Beef’ department appears to be from Keystone – their ground beef and their regular beef.

154 grams of protein in this 28 oz can:
>> Keystone Meats All Natural Ground Beef
(view on amzn)

88 grams of protein in this 14.5 oz can:
>> Keystone Natural Canned Beef
(view on amzn)

Canned Chicken

Diversify your canned meat storage. You might add some chicken. We do. (We have everything listed here). Here’s some of what I have on the shelves (along with my own home-canned chicken). Great for over rice, cooked, plain, whatever… Good all-around choice.

Each 12.5 oz can has 45 grams of protein:
>> Kirkland Signature Chunk Chicken Breast
(view on amzn)

Canned Tuna

Get those Omega-3 fats! Tuna is another good diversified choice for canned meat. Mrs.J likes the solid-white in water as a best taste choice.

Each 5 oz can has 26 grams of protein:
>> StarKist Albacore Solid White Tuna in Water
(view on amzn)

Canned Pork

Fully cooked, ready-to-eat, who doesn’t like pork? Again, Keystone came up on top for popularity on amzn. Sure you can get it any grocery store among many brands. I’m just using this one to pull the data…

Their 14.5 oz can has 96 grams of protein!
>> Keystone All Natural Canned Pork
(view on amzn)

Best Canned Meat – Final Answer:

Pork & Beef

From a protein and calories perspective as it relates to survival, Pork comes out on top, with Beef a close second. (see data below)


A special note about Spam… It’s #1 when you multiply protein x calories. However it is very highly weighted in calories and on the low side in protein comparatively. That’s why I don’t have it on top. Though I do keep plenty as part of my own diversified storage.


Tuna ends up the middle. Though it’s low in calories, it does have a fairly high protein content per ounce. And good Omega 3 fats. You shouldn’t eat more than a meal (or two max) per week according to what I’ve read about the potential of mercury content.


You may be surprised that canned chicken is further down the list, comparatively. It’s lowest in calories among what I’ve listed above. It’s protein content is a little more than half of beef. However, it’s likely a healthier choice for regular consumption. Though from a survival standpoint, you would need to eat more of it.

Really, the answer is all of the above. Canned meat is an excellent choice for shelf stable foods for preparedness. You don’t want to be living on all carbs. Don’t overlook the protein.

Canned Meat | Grams & Calories per Ounce

Canned MeatGrams /ozCalories /ozGrams x Cals
Ground Beef5.535193

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  1. I was surprised by Walmart’s variety in canned meat. Their Great Value label seemed to have some pretty good options. Canned pulled pork etc. also their house brand of spam was only like $1.79ea with different flavors like bacon. A pouch of loaded instant potatoes and some canned pulled pork would be a great morale booster. We like spam fried rice at our house, the rendered fat from cooking the spam first saves us on using cooking oil! We also buy cases of corned beef hash from Costco, for some reason our dogs get excited when i open the cans. Great article.

    1. Adam,
      definitely more economical to hit Walmart or Costco for canned foods. In an ideal world could just order up a big order of supplies freeze dried and canned, but we live in this world and got to make the best of what we have.

      1. Freeze dried? How do you plan on hydrating that freeze dried food? Most Americans don’t live in water-hauling distance from a lake or river. There’s a recent article on this site discussing this very topic. Canned foods carry their own hydration and water.

        1. The concenus is… If you live in a city you won’t survive anyways. Most only rural people will survive the big one.

  2. When we thought the world was going to end a few months back. My wife and I canned beef brisket pork butt and chix. it was just to easy. Just raw pack add seasonings and process tastes’ better to. Give it a shot a lot cheaper and you can use better meat.

  3. Good reminder on the freezer meat.

    Do ya have enough jars to can up the freezer?
    Do you know how to Air Jerky meat?

    Most will have a Generator but if/when for more than a week or a hard Lights Out …. enough said.

    1. NRP, I figure if anyone would know it would be you & Blue. My question is, ” Is Toilet Paper racist because it is white?”

      Just ask’n

    2. NRP/Blue,

      Having a gasoline fed generator is a fine thing, as long as you have enough gasoline to feed it. That’s why the generator I have is gas/propane. At the current price of gasoline, propane is a bit of a bargain. Kind of. I am constantly keeping an eye out for 20/40 lb bottles at garage sales and estate sales. Then getting them filled and putting them in a not-so-visible location. Tryin’ not to advertise. The biggest problem I have noticed is when one ‘stores’ a bunch of propane bottles, they become susceptible to a phenomena known as rust. What I have found to be a successful effort is to take a rag and dribble a little oil on it then smear the oil all over the bottle. Then put a small trash bag over the bottle. The trash bag seems to be a decent moisture barrier, and the oil a decent oxygen barrier.

      Along similar lines for current subject……After canning, get a paper towel, dribble a few drops of vegetable oil on it then rub it all over the lid and ring (if you leave the ring on). About 1/3 of the veggie oil will evaporate, the remainder will stay and keep the oxygen off the lid/ring. Thus limiting the rustic invasion.

      crow bait

  4. Definitely rotate the Spam as I had to through away 3 swelling cans. Mr. has picked up Vienna Sausages over the years, they do not last well. I will not eat them as a staple. We have some Lehman’s meat that is lasting. Have opened up 10 year old Sam’s/Wally chicken. Was good enough. Found that flavored/barbecue pork in cans does not last either. As we have stated before the pop tops are not as good as the solid tops.

  5. We buy local farm raised 1/2 pig and 1/4 beef each year. We can hamburger in pints, chicken and turkey in quarts, meatballs in quarts, beef stew in quarts and stew meat in pints.
    We buy canned tuna, chicken, beef chunks, sardines, salmon and of course spam. We do buy Costco burger for canning as well as cheaper beef cuts for stew meat.We buy chicken breasts for canning usually at Smart Foods/ Chefs store.
    There may be chicken farming in our future for eggs and meat, we’ll see. We do not raise any livestock ourselves but we have developed friendships with locals that do.

  6. I think you missed the importance of canning your own meats. When is the last time you were actually able to buy a can of Keystone canned pork at any less than 3 or 4 times normal price? Yet I can go to Walmart and buy pork loin for 1.99 a pound and pork shoulder for 1.29 a pound. Lean to can your own meats and then you can can when there are no stores and you can can when prices go up.

    I’ve enjoyed canning and eating pork, beef, ground beef, turkey, and chicken.

    1. @Dale,
      This article is focused on canned meats. That’s just one of many diversified aspects of an overall food storage plan. Since I began writing about preparedness 11 years ago, I have always emphasized that it is best to diversify. I have a good number of articles that relate to home canning here on the blog, which is yet another way to diversify one’s food preparedness. Mrs.J and I semi-regularly home-can meats here at the homestead.

  7. Next, you suggest canned tuna in water. Canned tuna in water is one of the worst outcomes of the yuppies era and, unfortunately, it is more difficult to even find tuna in oil as the nation’s anti-fat fear rages on All we hear is how bad fat is for us when we might just need to control portion size, instead of remove it. Post SHTF, fat will be one of the nutrients most difficult to come by. Wild game almost never has anywhere near the fat we need when working hard or even just for good brain health.

    One of the only ways to get good fat for mid-range-term storage is in canned meats. When you’re walking miles to get water, washing your clothes with a washboard in the back yard, trying to grow all of your food in a garden, you’ll need all the fat you can get.

    I have read many reviews from people complaining about the amount of fat in Keystone ground beef. First, for survival needs, I want all the fat I can get. Second, the fat is easily removed since it has all accumulated out of the meat during the pressure canning. Third, the total fat is less than 25% of the total weight. That’s lower fat than the 27% of the bargain ground beef at the grocery store.

    1. @Dale,
      The reason that I buy canned tuna in water is because that is what Mrs.J likes. She eats more tuna than I do, so that’s the way it is around here… Yes, if one is considering SHTF long-term problems with food availability, oils are good. It’s calorie dense.

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