Best Canned Food for Long Term Storage

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Best Canned Food for Long Term StorageA solid food stash. It’s one of those things that’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have. Because the truth is, we just don’t know.

My buddies up in Buffalo had no idea a blizzard would hit so bad that a 5 foot wall of snow would stop them from opening their front doors.

Or people I know in Texas who did not foresee a flood making the streets into rivers for five days. Or just last week when somebody at the power company decided to play Red Light, Green Light with my power.

Just for a few hours, but still. Power grids go out, weather happens. And there’s always the chance for something worse.

What to Stockpile

There’s an entire industry out there that’ll help you build up your long term food stash. From freeze dried boeuf bourguignon to facsimile MREs. Dried rice and beans are also great for the bunker.

And water. I could go on for a day and a half about how to ensure your water supply in unsure times.

But today I want to talk about the easiest, commonest, and probably the most varied ration you should include in your stockpile. Canned food.

It’s nothing special, not particularly high-tech, but it should be the foundation of any well-rounded emergency food inventory.

How Much?

Think about your needs. Is it just you surviving? Or do you have the wife and kids too? Pets? Better get a nice reserve of dog food cans. FEMA recommends enough food for everyone for two weeks.

And that’s a good start. Two weeks is better than no weeks. A month is even better and if you have the space, I’ve seen some people who do a whole year.

But how much is a week of food? Most men need about 2,500 calories a day. For women it’s around 2,000. Let’s just say 2,500 calories per person per day. That’s 17,500 calories per person a week.

The awesome thing about canned food? The calories are listed right there on the label. Like I said, canned food shouldn’t be the only thing in your food stash, but here’s an example of a full day of calories just from canned food:

Canned Food for One Day

  • 16 oz. Can of Del Monte Green Beans = 70 calories
  • 12 oz can of Bumblebee Tuna = 270 calories
  • 16 oz can of Westbrae Natural Organic Black Beans = 385 calories
  • 12 oz can of SPAM = 1,080 calories
  • 18.8 oz can of Campbell’s Chicken Corn Chowder = 380 calories
  • 15 oz can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli = 440 calories

TOTAL= 2,625 calories

True you could omit the green beans up there and still hit the mark, but a little green in your diet is going to be a good thing. It’s not just about the calories. Nutrition is something to consider when your options for fresh food is limited.

I know at least a few of you chuckled when you saw SPAM on that list. Sure it’s the butt of jokes, but look at that calorie count, Monty Python. I can totally see myself chowing down on a can of the stuff as I rummage through the rubble in my Road Warrior suit.

The best food to stockpile food in case of disasters

Keep rotating your canned food to ensure your stockpile is always fresh.

Rotation, Rotation, Rotation

It’s not just enough to stockpile a bunch of cans, close the basement door and wait for disaster to strike. You’ve got to keep that stuff fresh as possible.

While we still have access to grocery stores, keep moving new stuff into your storage as you use up and replace the old stuff. Keep rotating so when it’s go-time for your emergency stash, you won’t be stuck with a bunch of bulging, expired cans of botulism. Though, that does bring up a good point.  

How Long Will My Canned Food Last?

Apparently, we as a culture throw out a lot of food and a lot of that happens because people don’t seem to understand that not all expiration dates are the same.

There’s a “best by” and a “use by” date. “Use by” usually means after the date stamp, the food gets into unsafe territory. But “best by” means that taste quality can diminish after that time, but is generally still safe to eat.

Some people say that canned food is still good 1-2 years after the “best by” date stamped on the lid. But of course you’re gonna want to use your judgement.

If a can is dented or puffy, don’t chance it. If you open a can and it smells funky, don’t eat it, but you know that. You’re smart. Smart enough to start a food stockpile.

Keep a stockpile of water in case of disaster

Don’t forget to stockpile water for emergencies.

What Are the Best Choices for Long Term Storage?

Look back at that list up there and you’ll remember the biggest calorie provider is good old SPAM. The meaty ravioli is another calorie packer. For calorie and protein punch, canned meat is a good choice—like tuna, salmon, and chunk chicken.

Canned black beans are a good calorie provider with 385 calories. Canned peaches, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges will get you your Vitamin C. You don’t want to survive the zombie apocalypse just to die of scurvy.

Canned vegetables are good—think green beans, corn, garbanzos—because they’re packed in water, and water, my friend, is a very good thing to have.

But don’t just go by what you should have. You’re actually going to have to eat this stuff so try to include some stuff you actually like.


Nobody knows what’s going to happen, your best bet is to be prepared. Now you have a little more info about the long term storage of canned foods—how to pick them and how long they’ll last. Next time you buy food, add a few cans for the stash. I think you’ll like the feeling a little food security brings.       

Some of The Best Canned Food at Amazon

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Canned Food Image Creative Commons via Wikipedia. Original: lyzadanger Derivative work: Diliff, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link.


Meet the Author

'Mountain Man' John

'Mountain Man' John is a Survival and Preparedness enthusiast who loves everything outdoors. He has a passion for learning anything and everything to help sustain his and his families way of life post SHTF. He frequently shares his knowledge on a variety of topics from his hands on DIY projects, learning new skills such as hunting and trapping along with reviews on his Survival related purchases - Prepping has been in his family for generations, it's in his blood.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Johnson Jul 27, 2017, 4:48 pm

    Nice article. We have purchased dried long term food stores, homemade dried survivor food, canned good and MRE’s in our BOB bags. We live where there is a lot of snow, fires, and times of limited travel. One lesson learned: you cannot have enough water! As to canned foods, SPAM tuna, and home canned chicken breast (with pressure cooker) , as well as every kind of bean your family will eat is a mainstay. Try to purchase veggies packed in water….you can never have enough water! Next is dries rice and beans. Remember, your neighbors will not be prepared, therefore: you can use food to barter for supplies you run short on, like fuel or batteries. Invest in a really good water purification device. No matter what, you’ll never have enough water.

  • Donald Conner Dec 2, 2017, 1:01 am

    Got something against green beans? ALL green canned vegetables are a dietary necessity. They supply minerals and vitamins that do not exist in other vegetables. And have been found to aid resistance against colon cancer. Learn to like them by preparing them in different ways, hmmmm? Rice and beans are important sources of nutrition, wheat has oil in it, and will turn rancid over time, as will brown rice. White rice only !! Rabbit is good, but the fact is if that’s all you have to eat, you’ll slowly starve to death because there is very little fat on them, Squirrels the same. Canned hams that will not need refrigeration are good too. Fats and oils are also mandatory. May will keep a long time in a steady state temperature, out of light, which is why they come in dark green or other dark colored glass bottles. Once the seal is broken, the thing to do is to put clean marbles in the bottle to bring the oil level to the top. This prevents or at least slows oxidation.