canned meats for survival

Best Canned Meats For Survival – Protein and Calories

Canned meats for survival. It’s an excellent food group choice for survival and preparedness.

Best Canned Meats For Survival

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. Protein 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. You know, the kind you simply buy at the grocery store. Tip… You can can your own meat too.

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 canned meats for survival 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 For Survival?

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” for survival?

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!

I always keep several cases of SPAM as part of my overall food preparedness. Do you know what tastes good for breakfast? First layer, toast. Second layer, slice of SPAM. Third layer, an egg – over easy. Fourth layer, a slice of white American cheese. Oh my, my…

Canned Beef

The most popular canned meat in the ‘Beef’ department appears to be from Keystone – their ground beef and their regular beef. Yes, it’s fairly expensive compared to fresh. However, it will store well for years. No refrigeration or electricity required.

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. I simply enjoy a good old fashioned tuna sandwich once in awhile. Canned tuna and mayo.

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 | Protein Grams & Calories per Ounce

Canned MeatProtein Grams /ozCalories /ozGrams x Cals
Ground Beef5.535193

In summary, the best canned meats for survival include “all of them”! I do keep a lot of meats in my chest freezer(s) too. However, I also keep a good quantity of canned meats too. If the power goes out, I can keep my chest freezer running (solar power system). However, if you’re not equipped with a backup power source, I highly, highly recommend getting yourself a decent storage of regular canned meats.

best canned meats for survival


  1. Because of the cost im thinking about doing my own canning, use venison,

  2. We can our own chicken using different seasoning (natural, jerk, chipotle & lime etc.) so we keep an eye out for 10-20lbs bags that go on sale. Keystone is by far the best tasting on the meats we have tried and we keep a few cases each of pork, ground beef and beef on hand.

      1. Whydah, Given that just around 50% of the weight of a chicken wing is bone, that’s $7 per lb for the edible parts.

    1. @RC Keyston is good but yall should try Werling and Sons Inc. out of OH. just run a search on brave or duckduckgo.

      They increased their pricing but still excellent canned meat very good quality. The packaging is top notch so it limits cans from being damaged in transport. Double boxed with paper fill to provide good protection.

      1. White Cracker,
        Thanks for the information. I ordered an assorted case of 12-28oz cans and will give them a try. Glad they had the products in stock and I seriously doubt the price will be coming down anytime soon.

      2. at one time we could find canned beef with gravy in the stores from a company called Crider out of GA.
        it tasted great over rice, but we have not seen it on the shelves for a while. if you see it try a can.

      3. Good tip. Keystone is stacked high in our pantry. Heres a tip. Always order by the case. Less denting of the cans.

        Keystone is pre-cooked and only has sea salt added. Great for soups, stews and casseroles.

        I bought mine last year. Good-by date until 2025.

      4. WC,
        I ordered 12 of the small cans (14.5 oz) to try them out. Placed the order on 25 Feb. and received them today. It cost $99. with no shipping charges and the cans were in a box with heavy brown paper surrounding the cans and a bigger box on the outside.
        I have to try these different varieties of meats, but so far the were fast and well protected from damage at the lowest prices in these troubled times

  3. We maintain canned meats, i.e. Spam, tuna, salmon, chicken, sardines, even corned beef now that we can find corned beef again. (I didn’t see corned beef on store shelves for a long time) But, it has really gotten expensive and will continue to increase in cost and future availability might be spotty. We were paying $10 at Sam’s for a pack of four cans of chicken. Yesterday it was $20. A three-pack of the corned beef was almost $18. The four-pack cans of salmon isn’t far behind. I have pressure canned beef, but the shelf life is not as long as the commercial products.

    1. I have not looked lately but Dollar General has corned beef. It was a good price????

  4. I vacuum seal powdered protein. Not sure the efficacy of doing such. I Vac it, write on the side the date, flavor, grams per serving size etc.
    Pros: Light weight. High protein. Seems to last at least 2 years with no flavor or texture change. It’s kept me full and not sick and all. Appears overlooked when the grocery run happens.
    Cons: it’s “just protein” some vitamins etc. The price, but it’s been fairly stable compared to canned meats and such here in STL area Missouri.

  5. when i was a kid back in the 60’s there was kelley’s bbq in a can. can’t find it now but they have kelley’s chili in a can. i really liked the bbq in a can.

    1. If you find pork butt/shoulder on sale and have a pressure canner, home canned pork is *amazing* with a bit of bbq sauce (from a bottle or homemade). The only catch is that you can’t can it with the sauce because the sauce will scorch and burn (not good eats). Home canned pork also makes amazing carnitas.

  6. I can’t believe the prices on Amazon for the meat you showed. Sure am glad we bought it when it was a fraction of that. Think I will can some more.

    1. Check on keystone. It moves around but I catch the 28 oz pork at about 8.00 all the time. I buy a dozen each time. Beef seems to be high everywhere

  7. Keep a close watch on meats with tomato type sauces like barbecue and chili. They will go bad and the cans will swell. I know from experience. Also Mr. kept buying vienna sausages from time to time. Had to throw away 90 percent. Eating a vienna is a last resort. They do not taste like the ‘old days’.
    I have eaten 10 year old canned wally world chicken. It was ok in soup.

  8. Costco, in our area, carries cooked, shredded beef in a 3 pound Mylar bag for less than $14. It has a good shelf life. No can means no metallic taste as it ages. One bag will feed a lot of people when extended with rice, beans, veggies or pasta. I’m impressed with this product and highly recommend it.

  9. Ken you only mentioned chicken breast in the context. I wonder if dark meat would fair better. I home can both and it seems that dark meat has more fat so should have more calories

    1. Try Swanson’s canned white meat chicken breast. It is cheaper at Walmart/Target. Usually goes for $1.78/can. I save the cans and use them when I make candles…. They are like tuna cans and don’t tip over…..

  10. although i prefer tuna in water, the tuna in oil has more calories and fat. better for long term survival. same with salmon. you need some fat’s in your diet.

  11. AZoffgrid
    Where is it located in your store? Is it under the brand name of Kirkland or other brand name?

    Is this freeze dried or fresh in a Mylar bag, I do not believe I have seen this item so I would like to see if this store carries it.

    1. AC,
      We bought some of the shredded beef in the mylar bags. It’s fresh and it seems like they pack a lot into the bags. I thought it was a good value. I think it’s from Argentina. It was stocked in the same aisle as their canned meats and fish and jerky. Our Costco carried it for several months and I’d buy a few each time I was there. Then the supply dwindled down and I bought a few more. Sure enough, they ran out and it hasn’t been replaced here. It’s worth keeping a look out for. I think it will keep well and it is good meat. We make BBQ beef sandwiches with it, but I’m sure I could extend it for more meals if needed.

      1. NW Gal
        Thank you for where this may be located. I do not recall it being in this store which is rather odd, it is their medium to larger store.
        I only go in when I need to refill of items other wise I am like a child in a candy shop. Blinders should be required, but then again one may end up with whiplash do to all the tempting products they sell. lol

        1. AC, You’re welcome! There’s so much stuff at Costco, it is easy to miss things. The shredded beef is made by Sampco and it’s actually from Brazil. We looked it up online to compare prices, but Costco definitely had the best price on it.

    2. AC
      SAMPCO is the brand and it’s a product of Brazil. I saw it today for less than $12. It is cooked and similar in texture to other canned beef, but no chunks. I usually see it in the area of other canned meats. The bag is 8”x12”x1” so they stack well.

      1. So its cooked? and packed in vacuum bags? That is good for where I live if there is the threat of freezing. I would much rather thaw a Mylar bag of cooked chicken (or any meat) than a canned one. I have no idea how many Stanley thermos hot coffee cups have frozen in the cab of my truck (including Pepsi, Coke, Gatorade and yes… even the whiskey – yes it was cheap stuff prolly less than 60 proof). Where I live the meat gets frozen…for the winter…period. Cans may not be safe after such an event so packed mylar bags might be the ticket. Anyone got any papers on that? I know freezing meat isn’t bad… its the can’s I worry about. Might mean buy or hunt fresh and package myself.

        1. Prepared
          It’s already cooked so it’s a true 3lbs of meat. Very little water in the package so I think it would be great in freezing conditions. Can be found on Amazon, but more than twice the price as Costco.

  12. We have been canning pulled pork with BBQ sauce in wide pints.Works well a sloppy Joe or on rice,pasta,or beans. The pork
    shoulder sirloin or bone in roasts are relatively cheap.(Smiths/Kroger $.97 lb. this week).The bottled BBQ sauce is always cheap. Opened a jar last week.The seal was good and the texture and smell were fine. The taste was the same as it was
    when it was processed in 2017. I did add a little water and a dash of sauce. No drizzles the next day.

    Follow the Ball Book.

  13. Is Corned Beef Hash any good… Taste wise?
    What about Refried Beans. Sometimes I see those on sale for $1/can.

    I also have Chili with beans. The stuff is like $2 a can.

    1. I’m not a fan of corned beef hash though the wife likes. I do like roast beef hash. refried beans are a great thing to have in the cupboard but straight pinto beans are more versatile. you can always mash them and fry them with a little bacon fat or oil to make refried

      1. Remember if you are really hungry………….anything you have will taste great, my favorite is taking spam slicing it add some brown sugar and a little butter and fry it…..makes a tasty sandwich.

  14. 21Bravo,
    Like most things, you’ll have to try it yourself to see if you like it. Things that we don’t grow up eating often take a while to get used to. My opinion on these two items? Corned beef hash is passable, but not a preferable thing to eat. I do like refried beans. Beans are definitely a protein source, but I think the reason Ken doesn’t really talk about them in this article is because he’s trying to focus on meats.

  15. My husband and I started canning meat a couple of years ago after I read conversations on this site. Thanks to Ken and all. We have a lot of ground beef and ground pork. The pork is good for bean stews and the beef for veggie stews. Always learning!

    1. Nice! And it’s always rewarding for me to find out that this platform has inspired or helped others once-in-a-while :)

  16. I like and use the canned meats and have tried several brands. I think Keystone is generally good but the ground beef has gone down in quality in the last couple of years (don’t like seeing/eating little spongey white bits). I have gotten many dented cans when ordering directly so I check all cans and use those first. If I can find them I buy at Walmart instead. Werling is good, I think they have just beef and pork, and well packaged for shipping as mentioned above. I did have a couple of cans that were half fat and gristle-y but the dog got that so not wasted. I have home canned but no where to bulk buy here anymore. Freeze dried meats packed in mylar are light and easy to store, although expensive. Someone gave me a pack of that Costco beef mentioned that’s sitting in my pantry. I haven’t tried it yet because the person who gave it to me said it tasted like cat food!

    1. JS,
      Lol, not as bad as cat food, but out of the bag it tastes like unseasoned pressure cooked beef. The magic happens with the addition of spices and gravy or sauces. We add a jar of salsa, a can of corn and a can of black beans, along with taco seasoning, garlic salt, Tajin, and hatch chili powder. Warning: be prepared to feed a platoon.

      1. Good to know! Next time I have a platoon over I’ll give it a try! Thanks for the recipe ideas. I was thinking of Italian seasonings and served on a French roll topped with giardiniera maybe?

      2. AZ…
        maybe that’s why so many stores are out of cat food, it ain’t great by any means, but it will get the job done. Ate both cat and dog food as a kid, just to see what I/we were feeding the pets. Cat food definitely better tasting than dog food, especially the dry stuff. Store what ya eat, eat what ya store.

  17. As someone that is getting into the Torah side of the house.. I would refrain from the pork products and learning a bit about how pork still can have a vast amount of parcites on even the cooked food.. . Its not wonder why the Law’s where written that way. Shrimp is also a no go and bottom feeding things like cat fish as well.

    I would say can up some deer meat or even get the beef from the butcher and can it yourself.. At least you know whats going into your body and avoiding the nasty GMO trash too.

  18. This maybe a little of topic but protein, vitamins and minerals are just three groups of nutrients needed for the human body to live. You cannot eat enough of one thing to give you everything that your body needs.
    I suggest stocking up on protein powders that has your daily requirements to stay healthy and fulfil your bodies needs. I used to take a protein pack of pills that gave me 1000% of my bodies needs and was considered a full meal in nutrients.
    With supplements you can sustain life and not eat as much actual food as you normally would and be healthier.

  19. Our household uses Aldi canned salmon at least once a month so this is LTS for us. The price has gone up to $2.97 for the 14.75 oz can. It sold for $1.98 a year ago. The Sam’s Club members mark canned chicken in 12.5 oz can is also good. This has also seen a substantial rise in price. I can ship an order to my kids or grandkids and know that they will appreciate having it and they will eat it. We used bumblebee tuna also, which Sam’s ships, but it now takes two cans to get the equivalent of what used to be in one can….so plan your storage accordingly. Even though we prefer eating our home canned meats, we also rotate through some of these to keep current on recipes and save the good stuff.

    We make our own pasta and pizza sauce as well, but still purchase both from Aldi and Sam’s. Their products taste okay and have reasonable pricing…and Sam’s will ship for me.

    Aldi also has reasonable priced and good tasting canned fruit.

    Anything we don’t get to is donated before expiry dates. Although the food center told me they are allowed to accept and distribute cans past their expire dates. They have a chart to determine what dates to accept.

    1. everything is getting out of hand…… The bs its only 8 percent is a lie…. they should tell the truth and mention its 50 percent or higher.

  20. WINCO is still having a sale on the large canned chicken breast: $1.68 for 10.2 oz, I believe.

  21. White Cracker,
    I received my canned meat order from Werling and Sons and was disappointed to find that 4 of the 12 cans were dented. 1 severely (not sure if seam was compromised) and 3 with moderate dents. Really good packing on the outside box but no packing at all on the inside box with the cans so they were banging together. I’ll let them know so hopefully they will pack the cans better.

  22. For anyone that doesn’t like the taste of store bought canned meats, especially chicken, try rinsing the meat before using it in a recipe. If you’re careful you can use the lid to strain out the liquid from a can of chicken, then add fresh water to rinse and drain it again. It’ll help a LOT with the flavor of the meat.
    If you home can your chicken, the liquid tastes much better.

    1. Kelly S,
      good advice, yes we always drain and wash off all canned meat and most canned veggies before we cook or add it to something.

  23. Tip from experience, lived in southern Tenn, when the bad storms hit we have had power outages that lasted weeks, used genset to power fridge and freezer. After a few outages, I have experimented with how long to run gensets to maintain food temps. You only need one hour of run time once to twice each 24 hour period in order maintain temps, humidity and outside temps need to be factored in. Now live in northern nevada, low humidity helps extend the need on run times. The other thing pouches of tuna, chicken, etc seem to keep way longer then cans and for some reason the taste is much better with the pouches.

  24. I purchased some cans of Keystone a few weeks ago at Wally. The pork was $7. something and the beef roast was $9. something. Amazon wants $17. something.

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