Grocery Store Canned Food For Your Deep Pantry

Canned Food for Preparedness

Canned food from the grocery store definitely fills a gap in food storage preparedness. Here’s why…

– They come in a wide variety of food groups.
– Available at all grocery stores.
– Easy to store in your pantry / shelves.
– A pretty good shelf life. At least several years for most.
– None of them technically need to be cooked prior to consumption.

These attributes make canned foods one of the quickest and easiest ways to store some foods for preparedness.

I am not discounting other foods and their own unique packaging & processing! Rather I’m saying that canned foods are simply…simple. It’s one aspect of an overall diversified food storage plan.

Grocery Canned Food Groups

Food storage diversification is important! In other words, a well balanced supply of food types. Grocery store canned foods are just one of them. Lots of articles on this site about other types.

Important! Consume and Rotate! Don’t let them just sit there for “just in case”. Hopefully there will never be a “just in case”, so don’t let it go to waste. Simply build up an inventory and then start consuming and replacing! Kind of like having your own little mini grocery store.

Canned Beef, Poultry, Seafood

Meat. Protein. Calories. No refrigeration required for grocery store canned foods (unless opened of course). You will pay more per-ounce/pound because of processing/packaging compared with the fresh meat counter. However you won’t have to worry about the power going out and food spoilage in your freezer.

Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Salmon, Ham, and of course >>> SPAM!

My personal meat department includes a variety of these grocery store canned meats, Home canned meats processed with our pressure canner, Fresh meats vacuum sealed in chest freezers, and some Dehydrated and Freeze Dried meats in #10 cans.

Canned Fruits

Fruits are high in natural fructose / sugars. This will satisfy the sweet tooth, in case that’s an issue for you! Plus, a serving of fruit each day is good for you, right? Peaches, Pears, Oranges, Mandarins, “Tropical Fruit” mix, etc.. You name it and it’s probably available in a can.

Canned Vegetables

Eat your veggies! Right? Vegetables are nutritionally good for you and compliment just about any meal. Consider Green Beans, Corn, Carrots, Spinach, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, or whatever it is that you like to eat.

Canned Beans

You can get some pretty good calories and protein from canned Pinto Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Navy Beans, Black Beans, Black Eyed peas, “Baked Beans”. I mention it separately because these canned beans can be pretty good with a bowl of rice (for example).

Canned Soups & Condensed “Cream of…”

Soups. There are LOTS to pick from. Whatever floats your boat, so to speak…

Cans of condensed soups such as Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, Broccoli, Celery. These go a long way towards complimenting other foods (think ‘rice’ for example).


There are plenty of canned stews available which are meals of themselves!

Note: Typically, grocery store canned foods might have a date stamped on them. Seemingly generally about 2 years from date of manufacture (more or less depending). However, grocery store canned foods will last longer than their “Use by” “Best by” “Sell by” dates. Here’s why:

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

[ Read: Sell by, Use by Dates ]

Okay, so no excuse especially for newbies out there >> Next time you’re at the grocery store, start diversifying your food storage. Pick up a few extra cans of ‘this or that’…


  1. I have cans needing to be given away. I cook from scratch and like yesterday, only go to cans for beef/veg soup.
    I try but just can’t open a can of ______.
    I cook pasta dishes/rice dishes that are easy to prepare and can feed only one person.
    No–food banks don’t take this food.
    15 barrels of rice will go a long way ..and yes, I have canned butter in the freezer and a bucket of sugar…….IF I have to live on rice because someone robbed me of my foods.

    1. Was talking to a guy the other day who takes all the out dated stuff from the local food bank,,, guess he gets a pretty good haul pretty regularly, they get donations all the time of stuff real close to expire date and cant put it out because of liability. ๐Ÿ™„

      1. We will eat canned goods at least 1 year out of date. Some things 2 or 3 yeas out of date as long as DW doesn’t know.

      2. I’ve ate stuff 5-10 years expired. Still tastes fine. Just do the smell test when you open it, you will know

        1. So, I looked it up:
          Growth of Clostridium botulinum in food may cause container lids to bulge and cause foods to have a bad odor. Commercial or home-canned food products with bulging lids or a bad odor should not be eaten. However, botulism has also been associated with foods that smell and taste normal; therefore, the smell and taste of food should not be used to determine if it is contaminated. Never taste food to determine its safety.

          1. If the can isn’t bulging, I’ll eat it. Sometimes things I’ve eaten over 6 years past “expiration” date taste a little like can but otherwise have been fine. I’ve never been ill from this & have done it multiple times. I did have a can of tuna explode while opening it. Not a pleasant smell.

          1. When i was a kid we ate those things all the time, my favorite thing was the can of crackers and the little can of cheese spread, used them for food when we were hunting

    2. JayJay,
      Please consider donating to your local food bank. They will tell you what they can accept and may be able to tell you who will accept the items that they don’t want.

      1. I already stopped at food bank when the line was there this past summer–she said NO in a very rude tone.
        I consider churches, but they have proven to not have common sense, too.

        1. We have an unmanned building for post office boxes.Folks will leave food items there and they do get taken.Hungry in need folks have no issues with that.

        2. Jay-Jay,
          What if ya go to a food bank with a long line and just start unloading some and tell all it is free?
          Just a thought.

    3. Fortunately, our food pantry keeps items on hand beyond their โ€œexpirationโ€ date. The head of the pantry said they have a list from the government which states how long the food is good past that date. She told me when I apologized one visit for bringing some canned items that would expire after 30 days. I still rotate and plan to get these to them 60 days prior, but sometimes life happens.

      1. Anony Mee,
        Hey girl, ya got power?
        We have been out since about 11 last night.
        Stay warm,

    4. If the can isn’t bulging then it should be safe to eat. I had 16 yr old Dinty Moore Beef Stew once- still here. It left a greasy taste in my mouth. Then, I threw the rest out. It was an experiment. If one is really hungry they will eat anything regardless of the date.

    5. I personally eat outdated food that was still good, and we all have. Bottom, line when food becomes scares any food on the plate will be beneficial to survival. My motto is keep it till you know its no good. Dark days ahead…

  2. Just made some stew with a can of bbq pork and a can of bbq beef “best buy” date Feb 2018. It was great!

    1. Parson, we(I now) use a meat cutting place nearby and buy in bulk ground beef. They package in round tubes 1 lb. each. I swear, it is as good as vacuum sealing and I have kept that meat in the freezer for years, not months. Those throwing away meat after 6 months are silly.
      Good day to ya!

      1. I did find a case of name brand green beans smushy dated 2014…Boy, I really need to start cleaning my food shelves and throw away dinner envelopes.

        But, I save the noodles, rice in those packages -they seem okay to use.

        One thing about canned goods. I read from a lady that wrote about getting stacks of green beans from the warehouse and dating them knowing they were not fresh. So, that best by date is arbitrary and we should keep an eye on the goods, like the green bean can that burst, leaked, and made a mess on the shelf.
        Who knew?? Yuck!

        1. If I find a recently out of date canned food, it is usually half price. I usually use it up within 2 years, just as good.

        2. JayJay. ALSO must watch all pop top cans , and hghly acidic products like tomatoes, pineapple. anything just past date that is intact./good. dehydrate, seal with oxy absorbers. LTS.

          1. I have never used absorbers in all years I have saved food.
            I’ve watched the pop top because so many were bought before I even realized they were unsafe, darn, they use them on everything now!!; I have had good luck so far with them…strange.

          2. Putting oxygen absorbers n dry- food, that is crisp will extend life and keep it sealed in low oxygen enviroment ..for an extended time ..(15-20 years as long as sealed)DIY is cheaper than you can purchase pre-prepared long term veggies. we prefer dehydrated to commercial canned in all but a few things.. frozen is number one -after fresh…When foods are near expiration dates-this is how i extend them. we do not have enough freezer space for veggies and fresh meats…nor the rotation .. my freezer is about 3. it only goes down to 5 below and if opened in 24 hours will not return to that temp swiftly.Fresh meats for 2-3 months, or precooked small batches are in freezer. long term is in jars,-in some form.meat w/liquid or jerky. many will not eat our plain fare. more for us.

          3. TOJS,
            Excuse me if I am wrong about the one who posted this, but, don’t you dehydrate ground beef?
            If it isn’t you, I apologize, if it is you, do you cook it first? Season first? How long does this keep? Does it re-hydrate well?
            Thank you,

      2. My ten year old lower priced freezers will easily keep a 0 degree F temps and yes,that meat will last many years.JayJay is correct IMO and experiences.

        1. freddie,if your freezers maintain that. good for you. mine won’t! We do not prefer freezer burned foods- so I had to get another plan. Mine works for me. Glad yours work for you.

          1. If you are getting freezer burn it isnt stored correctly,I use zip lock bags and squeeze out all the air and seal.At zero F it lasts years and years.

  3. One thing that is good lately,
    costco went back to name brand canned vegetables.
    way better than that chinese kirkland garbage

    1. Only if your family likes it… the Bacon flavored one is the only one i purchase.. we will eat it for breakfast to chang things up..every couple of months. a year supply for us is 4-5 cans.can not find a lite salt version in Bacon flavored… most of it is way too salty.

      I just opened last canned string beans dated 2016.. they were ok.corn and beets-(2016)with old date is ok… other things not so much. have given carrots,sweetpeas, mixed vegges both home canned and commercial to chickens.. they are ok when turned into eggs.

        1. Fried Spam with Cheese Grits, maybe a biscuit or two with some homemade peach jam.

          1. Seminole Wind,

            Got a recipe for those Cheese Grits? I’ve got some polenta stored up, could I use that?

          2. Farmgirl,
            I am NOT southern and certainly do NOT want any southerner mad at me or think I am ” an interloper” on their cuisine, But, I have used Bob’s Red Mill grits and polenta interchangeably.
            Again, No Offense, to any southerners out there, especially if I am wrong. I’ll blame Bob’s, because it says it right on the package.

          3. Lol, thank you for your disclosure ;-) As a life long southerner with deep southern roots…No you can not substitute polenta. Absolutely not

          4. Amazing,
            Thank you for the answer. Like I said, I blame Bob’s Red Mill. Lol
            Will never serve to a southerner and tell them it is grits.
            Thanks again.

          5. Amiz,
            Sorry, autocorrect thinks it knows better.
            Maybe you are amazing, but that was laptop, not me. Lol
            Again thanks for the info

          6. Seminole Wind:
            Talk “old lady” into her Buttermilk Biscuits recipe.
            Literally the best Biscuits I’ve ever had… sorry Mom, even better than yours…. almost.๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

          7. Old Lady, Ma’am,
            May i please request you post your buttermilk biscuit recipe?
            NRP says it is fantastic!!!
            Please and Thank You

  4. I posted awhile back on a can of Wal Mart white chicken breast that had a 2010 date. Put it in some soup and it was fine. Smelled fine, tasted fine. As we have talked about before the acid foods should be watched very closely, along with the pop top lids and I have found some canned meats with an acid type sauce to go bad. Common sense is the buzz word.

  5. I stored cans bigly, and regularly used them then a year later I moved.
    That was almost 8 years ago.

    Some near 1/3 is bushes baked beans because I like them a lot- most of these are still within a year or two of dates.

    But, I have cans of food to hand out in an emergency..
    Might use several of the oldest as targets.

    I’ll bring up some and see if they can be used in something.
    I will just assume spam is good indefinitely 40 +/- there.

    1. I even asked one and only friend to start opening these with me–she’s like me; she cooks from scratch…but taco soup helps me use the corn and black beans.

    2. watch even spam.. i got a bad batch a few years ago ..out of 5 cans 4 went bad. swelled up like a balloon.
      it could be used for zombies. getting rid of bad critters.

      1. But, but in.. ya know water would they were good for decades.. I saw it on tv, it must be true.

        Swelling at least allows easy decision making.

        botulism is a bad way to go, I don’t think I’d even do that to coyotes, depends on the situation I guess.

  6. Its like NRP always says
    store what you use,
    use what you store!

    am making chili right now from stuff out o the pantry,,,
    stewed tomatoes with a 2014 date, had better color than the ones with a 2019 date,,, all smelled fine, the bushs beans that went in were 09,
    just sayin is all

  7. I dont think there is any better than Aldi’s canned veggies for quality and price.I too will agree,stay away from the pop top lids if its for storage.Great point on outdated goods turned into eggs by chickens.

    1. freddie, not necessarily outdated, but some take on canned flavor…metallic. as long as they are not toxic, can cook them and add old grains- left over veggie/meat scraps, a cup of scratch grains and make a hot feed for winter. we have Colombian Wyandot / mix w/Americana..chickens are 8 months old.. just beginning to lay.-Much bigger chicken…dual purpose gentle…a little slow with preditors -must be protected…..Amercana(pure) lay n 5 both n May. Americana have laid all winter…with 3 hours added light at night.we have strict dietary needs-so our diet is fairly regimented . low Vitamin K, high protein,lower carb. Low sugar, low tolerance for milk,nuts and legumes( better since held all for 3 years), but still not tolerated well.

  8. Besides the convenience, canned food allows for staying gray early in a crisis. No cooking smells to alert passersby, no running a generator to cook.

  9. I found that caned fruit and caned tomatoes will not last as long as you would think. Also caned cheese wont last long. Green beans don’t taste very good after a year but pinto beans keep well. I like to stock wolf brand chili, spam, chicken, tuna, Hormel can ham, ranch style beans, Just some food for thought! pun intended.

    1. I just ate a commercially canned green beans. From 2012!!!!! 8 years!!! I added salt and bacon grease and they tasted great. Strange thing is I just threw away canned green beans from 2014 which proves, we don’t know how long those cans have been on a shelf at the warehouse, huh. And they are generic from Sav-A-Lot store.

  10. BOGO, buy one get one, deals can be found at some stores ( not as much now),
    they are a good way to increase inventory.

  11. Road blocks starting this week end..I left the message I got from a christian site I visit on OPEN FORUM
    This means all 3 videos I shared knew this was going to happen.

    1. New to this group.Where are roadblocks ?What state? Also where are the videos? Thank you.

        1. Ahhhh Jerez, so it ainโ€™t so in reference to grandma47, last year?…I know weโ€™ve slowed down but last year??? Dang!

      1. Grandma47, I am GreatGrandMom 47 also, great year. Referring to road blocks, listen to an interview on Brighteon with John Moore, โ€œThe Library Manโ€. He mentioned freeway/cloverleaf highway exchanges, so far possibly a rumor but keep eyes on high alert if in/near large city. Two interviews same website; Dr Richard Fleming and Dr David Martin, informative, form your own opinion. Regarding bread for the stomach, I skipped those lessons, preferring to hunt or fish, little late to learn, but willing. So much yet to do, still processing peaches, 3 day marathon, hope to finish 2morrow. GGM

    1. Mountain Trekker, can we recall US Reps in Wyoming? I would be glad to sign a petition. Or if you have one started I will circulate it in Big Horn County.

      The best I could do so far is email her a couple of nasty letters.

      1. DaisyK, I was thinking of you since your in a different neck of the woods, yes we need to do this state wide. This is getting out of my pay grade, but I’m checking on it. I’ll keep our Wyomingites on this site inform the best I can . Trekker Out

      2. DasiyK, After further research, I found out that in Wyoming, we can’t do a recall unless they have broken a law. So seems we will have to live with Liz Cheney for 2 more years, since she was just reelected in the last election in Nov. Trekker Out

  12. Thanks for the useful article Ken. I have noticed some new posters on this site and stocking up on canned food is one of the basics of preparedness that is reasonably affordable and doable for most of us. When I was single and on a tighter budget, canned food was a staple I kept around for emergencies. I still have a good supply of canned foods around even though I have more income these days.

    There are 2 times when I really appreciate using canned food: I am hungry and in a hurry. and in the depths of winter when the produce section of the store is looking pretty worn, Canned foods can carry us through until our gardens kick in or the trucks resume deliveries. ( I tend to favor having a can of Ministrone soup when I get off work and come home on a cold winter night.)

    Several members of my fat cat herd maintain their hefty proportions with the help of canned cat food on a daily basis and canned cat food is probably the best bait to use in a trap when trying to capture a meat eater ( weasels are obligate carnivores.)

  13. Anyone have advice for someone who knows 0.0 on raising chickens. Living in Wisconsin we have brutal winters…..but I have seen chickens roaming in yards

    1. WiBadger
      ken has a whole section on chickens,,,,
      he is at higher lats than you too i believe
      on the drop down menue there should be a chicken listing,

      1. Thank Kulafarmer! I will check it out. Was listening to iceage farmer yesterday and his broadcast got me to thinking about raising chickens.

        1. WiscB
          Ken has been setting up for chickens recently so the stuff he has been posting is excellent. Obviously everybody is in a different financial state, so some folks do more some less.
          i have a flock, goes up and down, just culled from over 30 birds down to 10, but im on Maui so no freezing anything going on, yet.
          my birds i barely pay attention to but know folks up on the continent deal with all manner of issues, from predators to weather and beyond,
          I think most here who have chickens or such will be more than willing to chatter away on them, so just ask away and soon you will have everybody chiming in on their experience, strength and hope, sorta a 12 step program of poultry!

    2. Wisconsin Badger,

      The breeds I stuck to, when I was raising chickens in SW Wisconsin, were Plymouth Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Red. Buff Orpies were the best, as they were gentle, made good mothers/sitters, and the roosters had the best temperament. Some also raised Americana/Aruacana chickens – I found them to be a little ‘wilder’ than the others.

      Keep them out of the wind, watch moisture levels in the coop in winter, use the deep litter method in winter, and use a heat lamp when it gets in the single digits and below. My coop wasn’t insulated, and those practices worked for me. An insulated coop, sized right for your flock, will help. Chickens generate a lot of heat, so if you can keep wind/moisture under control, do what you can to trap the heat they self-generate around them.

      Hope this helps.

    3. Wisconsin Badger,

      I realize I only referenced laying hens, assuming that’s what you meant about chickens. Buff Orpies are a decent dual purpose breed, but I also raised broilers for sale off the farm. Cornish Cross is the standard most people raise, but I switched over to Freedom Rangers for that. They’re generally healthier, forage better which cuts feed costs, and the meat is hands down moister and more flavorful than the cornish. I ranged my broilers, in moveable electrified poultry netting with a moveable wire, covered hoophouse to protect from predators at night. IMO, predation is a bigger challenge than cold temps. ALWAYS, shut them in tight at night, just before dusk. No holes in their lodging allowed – weasels are a thing, and can squeeze through a smaller hole than you’d imagine they could.

  14. So personally, grocery store canned stuff is all i got besides my grains and pastas or noodles.
    For myself, making other things by mixing or marinating or pickling or the like, is big. Being able to manipulate basic ingredients to make dishes.
    Like SPAM, ya i know, some o you think its awful, but im tellingya, home made teriyaki spam with some of my noodles and some veggies, as we say, โ€œbroke da mouthโ€
    ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿค™๐Ÿป

    1. I remember the year I lived on Oahu they had shut down Kalaukaua ave and had a Spamfest. All different booths with so many ways to prepare it. Good stuff!!

      1. My sauce

        2cups soy sauce
        2cups water
        5 cups sugar
        about half a cup of thinly sliced ginger
        heat mixture on stove stirring often, bring to a boil, 2 minutes stirring, remove from heat and cool,

        i pour it into mason jars and cap it and let it cool.

        if you like it thicker sauce add 1-2 tbs of cornstarch to mixture before heating

        usually use this as a marinade and dipping sauce. Really good teri burgers,

        2# burger
        1.5 cups sauce
        mix in thoroughly
        (will be loose)
        form burgers
        grill is good,
        i like doing them in a pan, carmelizes the sauce better on the burger,
        a mater and some lettuce with a gob of mayo on it on an onion bun or sour dough roll

        1. If im doing the SPAM
          i slice it first
          then marinate overnight
          then fry the spam adding juice and carmelizing
          its sticky, good sticky
          over hot white rice
          a little pickled ginger and salted cabbage with some kimchee

        2. A good use for the sauce
          marinated flank steak or bottom sirloin strips,
          marinate, 2 days at least fully immersed,
          BBQ or broil
          ###see note below###


          ribeye, butcher sliced on a machine to 1/4โ€ thick
          marinate 2 days minimum

          same with deboned chicken thighs

          marinate immersed 2-3 days



          i usually cook this stuff on the stove top, i like it better, big frying pan, oil, usually olive oil, cook slow, cook down the juices till its well browned and goopy,,, is yummyerer that way

        3. Note on sauce,,,
          i will many times go up to 6 cups or more of sugar,,,
          is better sweet!

          1. Dude…. STOP with all this!!!! I just drooled all over my keyboard. I think everyone on my conference call heard my stomach rumbling…… :-)

    1. I open a Dak ham the other night, just fine, dated 1999. I ate some, no problems with digestion at all, tasted just fine.

  15. Polar Brand smoked salmon and other fish are really good. They stack well and there is a lot of fish in a small can. Don’t forget cream of chicken soup. Use it with your crocked neck squash in summer casseroles. I use our home grown chicken breast with some of our canned carrots from the garden and peas to make home made pot pies with a bisquick top. Expired Idaho potatoes in the little packet are good a year after the date. One of mine got moved and we had it last week. It was still just fine and favorful. Remember to store sauces and broths for a change in flavor for lots of things!

  16. I have can goods dating back to 2012 that includes Spam, and different verities of canned soup that I’ve been eating and I haven’t run into any thing that was bad. I think for the most part it’s a CYA thing for the manufacturer.

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