The Best Canned Food for Survival

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The Best Canned Food for Survival

If you’re looking for survival food to last for the long term, canned foods will be a basic part of your strategy. But what exactly is the best canned food for survival?

There are so many different choices and varieties of canned food: fruits, vegetables, meats, and soups to name a few. They also come in different sizes, from your standard #2 can to family-sized #10 cans. In this article we will talk about:

  1. Best practice for storing food
  2. Benefits of storing cans
  3. What kind of cans to avoid, and
  4. Our choice of best canned foods to ensure a varied and healthy diet.

So without further ado, here is all you need to know about buying and storing canned food for emergencies.

Best Practices for Storing Canned Food

In order to ensure your food has a long shelf life, you need to follow best practices. These are the basics for good canned food storage.

  1. Keep in a cool environment, between 50 and 75 degrees. Above 75 degrees and food will spoil quicker.
  2. If it smells rotten, throw it out.
  3. After opening, it is best to save in a plastic storage container and put in refrigerator.
  4. Make sure to always rotate your food and eat the oldest food first.
  5. Always, always check the expiration date.
  6. Keep your canned food in different locations in case of an unexpected flooding or vermin

And always remember, buy food that you family actually enjoys eating.

Benefits of Storing Canned Food

Canned food has a number of benefits for preppers. Not only is canned food cheap, with a similar nutritional profile as fresh varieties, but it is also easy to store.

We also need to remember that storing canned food is usually to prepare for an emergency. For example, if the power grid went out, most of your food would spoil. And you wouldn’t be able to cook on your stovetop. Since canned food can be eaten straight from the can, it’t incredibly convenient.

And finally, canned food is portable. You never know if and when you will need to get out of Dodge. With canned food, you can stuff it in your bug out bag and go.

Kinds of Canned Food to Avoid

Not all cans are created equal and the type of can you buy can have a significant effect on how long it lasts.

According to the USDA you should NOT buy bulging, rusting, leaking or deeply dented cans. This is very important because swollen cans can mean contamination with Clostridium botulinum, which can lead to death.

Rusting cans can have holes in them that allow bacteria to get in. Not to mention they will attract rodents and vermin. So always be aware of the condition of cans in addition to checking expiration dates.

Our Choice of Best Canned Food for Pantries

1. Canned Tomatoes

Whole Foods Canned Tomatoes
1,286 Reviews
Whole Foods Canned Tomatoes
  • 365 by Whole Foods Market products give you that dance-down-the-aisles...

Canned tomatoes are an excellent choice for canned foods. They are high in Vitamin C, fiber and Vitamin B-6. They also contain lycopene, which helps protect against heart disease.

One thing to keep in mind is that acidic food tends to last for a shorter period. Expect canned tomatoes to last about 2 years.

2. Canned Tuna

StarKist Canned Tuna
11,914 Reviews
StarKist Canned Tuna
  • DELICIOUS, MILD FLAVOR: StarKist Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water cans...
  • EXCELLENT SOURCE OF PROTEIN: White Albacore Tuna is a natural source of...
  • ADD VARIETY TO YOUR DIET: This dolphin safe tuna is a wholesome choice for...
  • VERSATILE: StarKist Solid White Albacore Tuna is a versatile and easy way...
  • BULK 24 PACK: Buy your tuna in bulk with the StarKist 24-Pack of canned...

We love canned tuna as a survival food because it is heart healthy and a great source of Omega-3’s. Not only that, but it is also a very convenient source of protein, vitamin A and folate. And to top it off, canned light tuna is one of the best sources of Vitamin D.

Tuna is also a lean meat that keeps your full long- which is obviously an important consideration in a true emergency.

3. Spam

Spam Classic, 12 Ounce Can
6,597 Reviews
Spam Classic, 12 Ounce Can
  • Canned luncheon meat brand
  • Fully cooked canned pork with ham
  • 6 simple ingredients; 0 grams trans fat per serving; 0 grams sugar per...
  • 7 grams of protein with 180 calories per serving
  • Shelf stable; does not require refrigeration until after it's opened

Spam is a classic canned food for preppers and it’s easy to see why. Spam is known to last way past the sell by date and is ready to eat straight from the can.

Although spam is not the healthiest option, since it has high levels of sodium and is processed, it lasts pretty much forever. If your goal is to plan for the worst-case scenario, spam is a great option.

4. Canned Peaches

Dole Canned Peaches
7,801 Reviews
Dole Canned Peaches
  • HEALTHY SNACKS: DOLE Jarred Sliced Peaches has five full servings of fruit...
  • NATURALLY GLUTEN FREE: DOLE Sliced Peaches in 100% Juice is rich in Vitamin...
  • DELICIOUS PEACHES: With Dole's shelf-stable fruit products, you can have...
  • HEALTHY SNACKS AND JUICES: From packaged shelf stable fruit, to dried...
  • REFRESHING FLAVOR: Try the refreshing bright flavor of Dole's packed fruit,...

We want to, of course, add some canned fruits to our diet as well. Canned peaches are a great option as they are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate.

Canned peaches are also just as nutritious as fresh peaches, according to this study. Just make sure you go for peaches with no added sugar.

5. Canned Green Beans

Green Giant Canned Green Beans
409 Reviews
Green Giant Canned Green Beans
  • Delicious flavor when grilled or sauteed
  • Makes a great side dish
  • Great for pasta and salads
  • All natural ingredients
  • Fat-free

Green beans are a great choice to ensure you are consuming vegetables. The assumption is that the canned variety lacks the nutrition of fresh green beans, but that’s not the case. The main difference is actually a higher sodium content.

Green beans are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C and iron. Like most canned food, green beans can come with a lot of sodium. So we always go with the low sodium varieties. That being said, we think green beans are one of the best options for canned vegetables.

6. Canned Chicken

Bumble Bee Canned Chicken
2,470 Reviews
Bumble Bee Canned Chicken
  • PREMIUM WHITE CHICKEN: Premium, high-quality chunk white chicken will...
  • GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN: This 24 pack of 5 ounce cans of Sweet Sue premium...
  • CONVENIENT PANTRY INGREDIENT: Enjoy a can of chicken as a great-tasting,...
  • PERFECT FOR CHICKEN RECIPES: Sweet Sue canned chicken is the perfect choice...
  • CANNED CHICKEN: High-quality canned chicken is keto friendly and gluten...

The great thing about canned chicken is that the nutritional value, especially that of protein, is similar to that of fresh chicken. Of course canned chicken will be significantly cheaper.

Chicken is incredibly versatile as it can be used in salads, mixed with rice, or added to soups. We think it is a staple for your pantry and there is probably no better option for canned meat.

7. Canned Black Beans

Whole Foods Canned Black Beans
9,032 Reviews
Whole Foods Canned Black Beans
  • 365 by Whole Foods Market products give you that dance-down-the-aisles...

Canned black beans are one of the most popular choices for preppers, and with good reason. Not only are beans a great source of protein and fiber, but they are also high in iron and magnesium. They are also low in sodium and sugar.

Black beans also go great with other prepper staples like white rice, corn and chicken.

8. Canned Spinach

Canned Spinach
1,357 Reviews
Canned Spinach
  • RICH FLAVOR: The leafy spinach works great as a stand-alone accompaniment...
  • NATURALLY FRESH: Our canned spinach is picked at the peak of freshness and...
  • NO PRESERVATIVES: With no artificial flavors, non-GMO, and non-BPA...
  • NUTRITIOUS & DELICIOUS: Filled with three simple ingredients: spinach,...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY: Del Monte has earned a reputation as being innovative and...

When mom told us to eat our vegetables, most of us imagined spinach. And with good reason. Spinach is packed with vitamins , including Vitamin B and Vitamin K, and antioxidants. Spinach also comes packed with kaempferol, which is a flavanoid that has been shown to lower the risk of cancer.

Convinced yet?

What’s more, according to the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, canned spinach comes with vitamin C and dietary fiber at an 85 percent savings compared to fresh spinach. So this is a very good option to get your vegetable intake on the cheap.

9. Canned Corn

Canned Corn
574 Reviews
Canned Corn
  • Picked and packed at the peak of freshness
  • Rich, sweet flavor
  • Contains just two simple ingredients: corn and water
  • No salt added
  • Grown in the USA

Canned corn is a great alternative to fresh corn. It provides the same amount of dietary fiber and the same amount of folate, but at a cheaper price.

Little known is that corn is also a great source of antioxidants. With canned food, sometime nutrition is hard to find. So getting your much-needed antioxidants is a must.

10. Canned Salmon

Canned Salmon
8,453 Reviews
Canned Salmon
  • DELICIOUS FLAVOR: The StarKist Wild Pink Salmon can features wild-caught...
  • GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN: With 22g of protein per serving, our Wild Pink...
  • ADD VARIETY TO YOUR DIET: StarKist Wild Pink Salmon is a wholesome choice...
  • VERSATILE: StarKist Wild Pink Salmon is a versatile and easy way to liven...
  • BULK 12 PACK: Buy your salmon in bulk with the StarKist 12-Pack. These...

If you need your fish, there are few better options than salmon. It is one of the best sources of healthy Omega-3s around. Omega 3s have many known health benefits including reducing your blood pressure and decrease our risk of cancer.

In canned form it is similar to fresh salmon in nutritional value, including protein. In addition canned salmon has high calcium and Vitamin B levels.

In addition, if you are concerned about mercury, canned salmon is a good alternative to tuna.

11. Powdered Milk

Powdered Milk
3,419 Reviews
Powdered Milk
  • Adds Calcium and Vitamins A D to your smoothies and shakes
  • Makes breads and muffins tender
  • Adds flavor to sauces and soups
  • Carnation dry powdered milk can be stored in the cupboard until you want to...
  • To prepare, use ¼ cup dry milk for every cup of water

Whether you have young ones at home or not, powdered milk will come in extremely handy. Not only is it a certified shelf stable food, but according to FEMA, when stored in nitrogen-packed cans, they can last “indefinitely”.

That’s our definition of a great survival food.

We all know milk spoils quite easily. So powdered milk, stored in something like a #10 can, is a tremendous option. And luckily in powdered form it retains it’s nutrition: high levels of Vitamins A, K, E, and D.

12. Beef Stew

Beef Stew
1,531 Reviews
Beef Stew
  • DINTY MOORE Beef Stew: 10g of protein per serving
  • Ready-to-eat dinners that are gluten-free with no preservatives
  • Every can is loaded with hearty chunks of meat and vegetables
  • Shelf stable Simply heat and eat
  • A meal that works as hard as you do

Beef stew has been a favorite of mine since childhood. But the reason I love beef stew as a survival food is that you get a combination of meat and vegetables. It is also a great addition with rice for a complete meal.

Beef stew is not only a great source of calories, but also protein and much-needed fiber.

13. Chili

2,496 Reviews
  • Classic Beef Chili: Made from a tasty, slow simmered recipe with a savory...
  • Pop the Top and Serve: This can features an easy-pull top for quick and...
  • Pour on the Flavor: Our chili makes a great topping for hot dogs, french...
  • Try Them All: We make an array of delicious chilis including with and...
  • Since 1936 we've brought you the tastiest canned chili, made from choice...

Chili is another great option to eat straight out of the can or mixed with rice. There are many different variations of chili, including all natural chili with beans.

Chili with Beans
2,959 Reviews
Chili with Beans
  • 16 grams of protein per serving
  • 100% Natural; no artificial ingredients, Minimally processed
  • Easy pull top
  • Perfect for bowls, dips, dogs, and appetizers
  • Two-bean beef tomato chili

With chili you will get a healthy amount of iron, protein and fiber. But be aware that the sodium content is extremely high.

14. Canned Soup

Canned Soup
4,391 Reviews
Canned Soup
  • Made with a homestyle, heart-healthy blend of seasoned chicken broth,...
  • Packaged in a non-BPA-lined, 10.5 Ounce. recyclable can
  • Heart healthy, 0 grams Trans Fat per serving
  • Low in Saturated Fat & Cholesterol
  • A soup that features the tastes you crave from home

We believe canned soup should be a part of every prepper pantry. You never know what kind of health you’ll be in, and what kind of food you can hold down.

There are countless varieties of canned soup, but our favorites include chicken soup and vegetable noodle soup. Chicken soup is known to have anti-inflammatory benefits, which is perfect if you have a cold.

15. Pork and Beans

Pork and Beans
805 Reviews
Pork and Beans
  • Sweet and savory beans with bites of pork
  • Package includes 12, 19.75 oz. cans—Each can has about 4.5 servings
  • No synthetic colors, artificial flavors or preservatives added
  • Ready to eat— Serve heated, chilled or at room temperature
  • Perfect for serving as a delicious BBQ side dish

We think this is one of the great combinations. This can be eaten out of the can, but is better heated up.

With pork and beans, not only are you getting a good meal in itself, but a great addition to rice or pasta. You’re also getting a ton of protein and fiber.


In order to properly prepare for a disaster, your first line of defense is usually canned food. With a shelf life in the 2 or 3 year range, you should be able to withstand any short-term crisis. For a more long-term crisis, you can always go for freeze dried foods and MREs.

While the best canned food for survival is different for everyone, a good plan includes not only diverse nutrition, but also proper purchasing habits. Make sure you always look at the condition of your can and always rotate your cans to maintain freshness.

And finally, stock up on what you actually enjoy eating! The worst kind of spoilage is the kind that happens when you look at your pantry and don’t want to eat anything.

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