Best Canned Foods For Survival Prepping: Top 5 Hand-Tested Picks

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

When it comes to building a stockpile of survival food, canned food is going to be one of your best options.

Best Canned Foods For Survival Prepping

Interestingly, I have met people who did not have an emergency supply of food in their homes because “That fancy survival food is too expensive!”

However, once I pointed out to them the perks of using canned food, they quickly changed their tune.

Whether you are unsure of what to purchase or just want to learn a little more about prepping with canned food, stick around as I share with you my buying guide pointers and 5 of my favorite canned food options!

What To Consider When Buying Canned Food

Before running out to the store, here are a few things to think about when it comes to prepping with canned food.

What Kind of Food

“What kind of food should I buy?” This is undoubtedly the first question people ask.

And my answer is super easy.

Open your kitchen cabinets and look to your shelves to see what food you already have. This food is what you like, what you buy, what you eat, and what your body is already used to.

An emergency stockpile of food is simply an expansion of what you already have.

If you like chicken noodle soup, then buy more of that.

If you do not like beans, then do not buy that.

Part of the reason you should buy what you like is that this food does not last forever and will need to be rotated at some point.

This means when it gets close to its expiration date you can eat it instead of throwing it away because you do not like it.

Mix It up!

You will want to have a variety of canned items stored away.

I know this kind of goes against what I said in the above section about only buying what you like but, hear me out.

If you only have one or two types of canned food stored away, you are going to quickly have menu fatigue, i.e. you will be bored.

The other reason is that you may not be receiving all of your nutritional needs with those two items. In a survival situation, you may have to hold your nose shut and eat something you do not like to make sure you are being nourished.

Why You Should Store Canned Food

Canned food makes great survival food for several reasons.


The first reason is that it is incredibly affordable. I recently went to the store and found chicken noodle soup on sale for eighty cents a can. I was able to put ten cans of soup in my cabinet for only eight dollars! But even when it is not on sale, canned food is still a cheap option.

If you shop around, you can find deals all the time. This is especially true at bulk stores where flats of canned food can be purchased.

Long Shelf Life

Most canned goods have expiration dates of at least a year if not two or more. And when stored properly canned goods can last well beyond their best by dates.

When the SHTF you may not be able to go to the store for the foreseeable future. Looking into your cabinets and seeing food that will remain good for years is a pretty darn good feeling.

No Refrigeration

When the SHTF you may not have power, which means no refrigeration.

The fact that canned food stays good for so long without refrigeration is a pretty sweet deal.

Storing cans properly in cool, dry, locations will help to extend their shelf life. 

No Cooking Required

Just like in the above section, you may not have the ability to use your appliances like a microwave or stove.

But no worries because canned food does not need to be cooked before eating. It can be eaten straight out of the can!


Since canned food does not require refrigeration, freezing, or special packaging steps, it is incredibly easy to store.

They can be bought at the store and placed in the basement or pantry as soon as you get home. It does not get much easier than that!

Different Sizes

One type of canned food may come in several different sizes.

This allows you to easily personalize portion sizes based on your needs.

But another reason to have different sizes of cans has nothing to do with portion sizes but the can itself.

After the contents have been eaten up, wash the can out and it can be used as a water collection device, a stove, security alarm, a means of transporting fire, a candle holder, and many more uses!

Best Canned Food For Survival: Top Picks

Below are five choices for canned food to stock up on. The choices are based more on the food type rather than the brand. So, substitute out brands or low sodium options based on what you and your family like. A meal that your family is used to can be very comforting during difficult times.

 Beef Stew – Most Filling

Beef Stew

Beef stew is loaded with carbs, fat, and protein. Everything that a body needs.

Okay, not everything a body needs but it has large chunks of potatoes, carrots, and meat that will leave you filling full.

Other than being incredibly filling on its own It can be used as a base for other recipes. By serving it with rice or beans this two-pound can will feed several people.

Dinty Moore BeefStew

Many people like beef stew for the above reasons. It is one of those meals that “sticks to your ribs,” making you feel full throughout the day.

Here is another trick I have found with these large cans. A couple of cups of water can be added to them to thin the stew out without affecting flavor all that much. This will allow you to feed more people out of a single can and will help to cut down on the sodium content per serving.



Dinty Moore Beef Stew 15 Oz (8 Pack)
  • Gluten Free; no preservatives added
  • Every can is loaded with hearty chunks of meat and vegetables

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 Pork and Beans– Good Even Cold

Pork and Beans

Ah, pork and beans, one of the staples of a prepper’s pantry!

Pork and Beans

This is because they are a good source of fiber, taste great, and can be added to other foods.

I am sure they are out there but I have not met a prepper yet who doesn’t have pork and beans in their cabinet.

The can in the photo are beans in tomato sauce but they do come in different flavors if tomato sauce is not your thing.



Van Camp's Pork & Beans 15 Oz (Pack of 8)
  • Pork and Beans in Tomato Sauce 15 oz cans
  • High in fiber

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Canned Meat-Versatile Protein

Canned Meat

There are quite a few different options to choose from such as chicken, sardines, kipper snacks, SPAM, and tuna.


I chose tuna because most of my family likes it. But other than liking it, tuna is a great source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and B vitamins.

Many people enjoy tuna and use it in various ways. Such as eating it right from the can, adding it to casseroles, or making a sandwich.



BUMBLE BEE Chunk Light Tuna In Water, Wild Caught, High Protein Food,...
  • WILD CAUGHT TUNA IN WATER: Premium, high-quality wild caught, canned chunk light tuna fish in water
  • GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN: Pack of 24, 5 ounce cans of Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Water; Each can...

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vegetables and Fruit– Keeping it Well Rounded

Vegetables and Fruit

When fresh foods are not available, having some canned vegetables and fruits will help in receiving hard to get nutrients.

While canned vegetables and fruits do not have nearly as many nutrients as fresh ones do, getting some is better than nothing.

Canned vegetables are great to use as side dishes and fillers in the main meal.


The sweet taste of canned fruit will be a nice treat when you are only eating survival food and when other desserts are hard to come by. For a healthier option be sure to choose fruit that is canned in its juice and water instead of syrup.



Libby's Whole Kernel Sweet Corn, 15 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
  • Premium corn that preserves its naturally sweet flavor and color
  • Canned Whole Kernel Sweet Corn, 15 Ounce Can (Pack of 12)

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Cream of Mushroom Soup– A Great Additive

Cream of Mushroom Soup

While this can be eaten as a soup it is not all that filling.

The main reason I added this to the list is that it is great at flavoring or thickening other dishes.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

For example, noodles by themselves can be rather bland. But add a can of cream of mushroom soup to it and it instantly tastes much better!

This is another one of those canned items that almost everyone buys, making it a popular option to have stored with your survival food.



Great Value Cream Of Mushroom Condensed Soup, Gluten-Free, 10.5 oz (Pack of...
  • It is gluten-free, making it beneficial for individuals who are sensitive to gluten
  • An easy way to enjoy a bowl of nutritious and delicious-tasting soup

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Open questions about Survival Food Prepping

Can you eat cold soup?

Without a doubt, you can eat cold soup. In fact, all canned food is safe to eat right from the can. But warming or cooking it will make it tastier!

Are there any downfalls to eating canned food?

Yes. Many canned foods are not that healthy because they typically have a lot of preservatives such as sodium (salt) A diet consisting of only canned food is not recommended. But this is partly because our diets during normal times consist of fast food and other highly manufactured products.

Can you eat canned goods after their expiration date?

Most canned foods are still good well after their expiration date. Older canned food may not taste as fresh but can be perfectly fine to eat. Here are some signs that indicate a can of food should NOT be eaten.


Canned food is a great way of beefing up survival food stores easily, cheaply, and quickly, not to mention they have a very long shelf life.

During a survival situation, canned food will provide the calories we need to keep going and to get work done.

If you plan on storing canned goods do not forget to purchase a manual can opener! Actually, it would be best to have several on hand. Thanks for reading and stay prepared! What are your favorite canned foods to store and why? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.