The 21 Best Canned Food for Emergencies

Sudden emergencies like floods, storms, and hurricanes—and long-term ones like the great coronavirus pandemic of 2019-2020—all require food stockpiling to be prepared since, for physical survival, food is on level one of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needsOpens in a new tab.. It is often highly recommended to purchase canned foods, in particular, for any short- or long-term emergencies.

What is the best canned food for emergencies? The best canned foods you should purchase and store for emergencies are those that are nutritious (such as those packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals) and have a long shelf life to last through any emergency at any given time.  

While it may not be advisable to consume canned food daily, it’s one of the safest options when you’re experiencing an emergency. For instance, during a pandemic, it’s smarter to consume canned food instead of going out to seek fresh food since you’ll be risking exposure. So, in this article, we will outline the best canned food that can provide you with the nutrition you need. L

Let’s go shopping!

1. Soups

Canned soups are a lifesaver when accessing soup ingredients becomes challenging. And sometimes, you may have ingredients, but soup prepping time isn’t available. That’s when you reach the pantry for some canned soup that only needs warming.

Canned soups offer a variety of combinations, so there’s something for everyone—vegetarian, vegan or not. Here are the best canned soups:

2. Vegetables

Although canned vegetables won’t feel as fresh and pure as ones from the farmer’s market, they are a lifesaver during emergencies. Not to mention, they are cheaper than their fresh counterparts, which makes them suitable, especially with tight emergency budgets.

Furthermore, according to an article in the American Journal of Lifestyle MedicineOpens in a new tab., canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones. And with some products like tomatoes, canned ones are more nutritious since the process boosts vitamin B, vitamin A, and carotenoid levels.

3. Meat and Meat Products

If you want meat and meat products to last you for years, go for the canned types. These help in supplying you with protein-rich food of your choosing even during emergencies. If you can get grass-fed canned meats, the better.

You’re also going to need a steady supply of canned meat products for sandwiches and other easy meals. Here are some options to choose from:

4. Poultry

In contrast to what the layman thinks, canned poultryOpens in a new tab. doesn’t lose its nutrients in the canning process. So, during emergencies, you should consider adding canned chicken, turkey, and other poultry products to your stock.

Canned chicken recipes are limitless. Most of them may taste like you spent the whole day prepping them, yet they’re so fast and easy. You can try:

  • Chicken Taco SoupOpens in a new tab.: Having all the ingredients outlined, all you have to do is mix them all up, boil, simmer, and serve—an easy meal for emergencies.
  • Home Lime Chicken EnchiladasOpens in a new tab.: Another easy to make a dish that can be frozen for more tasty meals.
  • The Fastest & Easiest Chicken Noodle SoupOpens in a new tab.: This recipe lives up to its name by having incredibly few cooking steps. Yet the taste is too precious to believe how with fast it can be prepared.
  • Pantry Enchilada Chicken SkilletOpens in a new tab.: Exactly what you need during an emergency and can’t reach the store. Just a few pantry staples, and you can set an exquisite dish on the table.

You can use canned poultry products like:

5. Seafood

According to a report on Consumer ReportsOpens in a new tab., canned seafood is healthy, just like fresh counterparts. You can get the same amounts of proteins and omega 3 fatty acids, which help with your cardiovascular health. Moreover, a USDA study found out more omega-3 fatty acids in canned red and pink salmon than in fresh equivalents.

And if you can stock canned whole fish, you can acquire high calcium since the canning process softens the bones. In fact, Tim FerrisOpens in a new tab., one of the most popular American entrepreneurs, revealsOpens in a new tab. that he can never travel without canned fish.

With canned fish, there are several options. You can eat some straight out of the can, make seafood salads or even better, explore all your seafood recipes, and more even during emergencies.

6. Bread

Fresh bread will not be easy to acquire when you have an emergency. For instance, if you’re experiencing a total lockdown, you have beak your own if you have the ingredients, but even better, you can fish out some cans from your pantry.

And while the bread wouldn’t be as fresh and sandwich-able as you like, it can work with other things like beans and eggs. 

7.Pancake Mixes

Pancake mixes in the pantry give you peace of mind since you know you can whip up something delicious anytime. It doesn’t have to be pancakes alone. You can use the pancake mix to make crepes, waffles, muffins, and even cookies.

8. Butter and Ghee

Whether you want to spread bread, flavor your food, or use it in other cooking procedures, butter is a great ingredient to have in your kitchen. And even when you’re experiencing an emergency, you can resort to canned butter. It can hold up to three years or even more.

So, when you can’t regularly go to the store to fetch butter, don’t ditch all the recipes you love. You can look for canned butter and butter powder like the shelf-stable Augason Farms Butter PowderOpens in a new tab..

However, if you lean toward ghee during a butter vs. gheeOpens in a new tab. debate, you should consider stocking canned ghee as well. After all, ghee is friendly to the lactose intolerant who can’t take butter. The PATANJALI Cow GheeOpens in a new tab. is one of the best-canned ghee you can find.

9. Nut Butters

Nut butter adds not only amazing flavors in our lives but also packs great nutrients. Since you’ll be consuming the same content you find in nuts, you’ll be supplying monounsaturated fats to your diet. These fats increase High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)Opens in a new tab. cholesterol (the good kind) and reduce Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)Opens in a new tab. cholesterol (the bad kind). The Jif Creamy Peanut ButterOpens in a new tab. is one of the best you can find to last you years.

10. Nuts and Seeds

Canned nuts are one of the top sources of protein and other numerous nutritional componentsOpens in a new tab. during emergencies. You can enjoy them in soup recipes or consume them as a snack—whatever option suits you.

You can enjoy walnuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamia, cashews, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts and more in the following high-rated cans of nuts:

Nutritional seedsOpens in a new tab. like pumpkin, chia, hemp, sunflower, and flax seeds have a range of significant health benefits you don’t want to leave out in your emergency stockpile. You can blend them with fruits and vegetables to create powerful smoothies or just peel and eat them as snacks.

11. Animal Milk

Milk has numerous health benefits. It is one of the greatest sources of protein and minerals, not to mention its ease of absorption. During an emergency, you’ll need to include any type of milk you prefer.

12. Juice

Drinking juice is one of the best ways to stay hydrated. Unlike water, it is tasty for those who skip drinking water. Moreover, juices have nutrients derived from the fruit itself. Since you might be unable to access fresh juice during emergencies, it’s vital to stock your pantry with canned juice.

13. Fruits

According to the United States Drug Administration (USDA)Opens in a new tab., an average adult needs two servings of fruit per day. These servings can be sourced from any form of fruit, and canned is also a viable option. 

So, you don’t have to forget whole fruits just because you’re experiencing an emergency. Canned fruits are a great option for the nutrition you need. The benefit of canned fruit over canned juice is not only the legitimacy of the fruits but also the fiber that comes with them.

14. Cheese

Cheese is not only nutritious but also comes in handy in tasty recipes like the famous mac and cheese. But canned cheese got a bad rap since people claim that there’s no natural cheese in it and it’s downright unhealthy. However, Science DirectOpens in a new tab. outlines the ingredients clearly for you to understand what you’re getting into your system. Most canned cheese has a long shelf life of at least one year.

15. Corn

If you still want to enjoy corn offseason and during crises, you should consider packing your pantry with some cans. It only loses some of its vitamin C during canning, but that’s negligible given that it maintains taste, cooking time, and other nutrients as well—at a lower price.

16. Beans and Other Legumes

Beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes are the highlight of many recipes. They are not only an affordable source of protein, but they also pack other important nutrients like iron and vitamins. Their fiber content can also help lower cholesterol.

Legumes are a treat for many vegetarians and vegans. Also, they are easy to incorporate in simple soups to tortilla recipes. The following variety of canned beans can help:

17. Tomatoes

TomatoesOpens in a new tab. are nutrient-packed food you can use in many ways. Make a sandwich, cook, or stew them; you get the nutritional benefits like healthier skin, heart, and overall body. Moreover, it’s one of the main constituents of an anti-cancer dietOpens in a new tab. thanks to its lycopene, which is also abundant in its canned form.

You have a couple of options when it comes to canned tomatoes. You can choose whole- peeled, crushed, diced, and even stewed types. You can eat them straight from the can, cook, or stew them more. Keep in mind that cooking and stewing tomatoes can decrease its vitamin C content, but it also increases the lycopene content.

You’ll need canned tomatoes since accessing them during an emergency can be a hard, if not impossible task. And, you can choose from the best canned tomatoes below:

18. Sauces

Stale food? No problem, just put some sauce on it! Canned sauces may be the best flavor adding ingredients you can rely on during emergencies. Check out some of these canned sauce options:

19. Coconut Milk

Since coconuts can’t last long, you’ll have to consider switching to coconut milk—the canned kind.

Canned coconut milk is made by adding water to shredded coconut and straining the liquid and canning it. So, you should be confident that you’re getting the real coconut milk, only with preservatives. If you love dairy-free products, canned coconut milk is the way to go during emergencies.

20. Dried Fruits

During emergencies, one of the few fruit options you may have is dried fruit. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, but they have one issue—high sugar. However, this is something you can mitigate by drinking fluids and eating the dried fruits in moderation.

You can get a consistent supply of fruits during emergencies with the following canned, dried fruits:

21. Cereal

Canned cereal generally features a longer shelf life than normally packed cereal. If you must stay remote for even a decade, you can count on canned cereal to last you that long. 

Moreover, canned cereal may have added minerals and vitamins that you can consume when there’s a short supply of products full of such nutrients. The Future Essentials Canned Cocoa Rice Krispies CerealOpens in a new tab. is one of the best ready-to-eat, long shelf life canned foods.

Tips to Help You Build an Emergency Food Supply

With all the amazing canned food mentioned above, you may get overwhelmed by the variety of choices, wondering what to buy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in crisis. However, don’t agonize. Along with the foods to buy, here are some tips to help you store the best canned food options most efficiently.

Start with a Plan

First, don’t panic. Relax and plan. You need to ask yourself all the following questions so you can make an effective food saving plan:

  • How long are you saving food for? 
  • Who are you saving the food for? Do they have any allergies you need to keep in mind?
  • What are the basic meals you and your family can eat? 
  • What long term treats do you like? 
  • What budget have you set aside for the emergency?

The biggest question of all is the timeline you think the emergency will last; this gives you a head start on what to buy and the budget you can operate around. 

The Department of Homeland Security advisesOpens in a new tab. you to at least make sure that you have supplies that can last 72 hours. However, this will depend on the nature of your emergency since natural disasters can last a few days, while a pandemic can last for much longer.

Since you can always use canned food after a long time, it’s best to go overboard with the timeline according to the money you have. You can stock up two months’ worth of supplies; even if you use up only half of the stockpile during the emergency, you can continue using the canned food for the next few months and even years with proper storage.

Prioritize Basics

The basics come first always. Don’t stock up on snacks and forget the main ingredients for the meals you normally would eat. It will not only be a waste of time but also money in uncertain times. 

Think about it: what are the most common foods you can use to obtain the most important nutrients? With your answers put down, sort the highest in priority and keep doing that even for snacks. Don’t forget to include purified waterOpens in a new tab. since it may become hard to access safe water.

Focus on Nutritional, Tasty Foods

With all the hurry during emergencies, you might throw any food you get your hands on in the pantry. However, that’s unwise since you might end up unhealthy with all the junk you may consume.

Instead, base your shopping around the healthiest foods you can find. With the right canned goods, you can get nutrients from many tasty foods. Ensure that you invest in your health even in times of uncertainty. When an emergency strikes, be the healthiest you can be by doing your best to consume healthy foods.

Purchase in Bulk

Bulk purchases are generally cheap. Since you might need a lot of food during the emergency, it’s best to purchase as much as you can and in lump sums. In the case of canned foods, choose to buy bigger, more affordable packs than single cans. This way, you can be confident of seeing through the emergency even if it exceeds the anticipated timeline.

Take Some Seeds with You and Consider Indoor Gardening

During emergencies like pandemics, you might have to stay indoors for a while. Even if you can access the little supplies available in the grocery stores, you risk exposure, plus you might not get the food you desire. However, you can mitigate this issue with indoor gardening.

You can choose to grow food hydroponicallyOpens in a new tab. using ready-made kits available on Amazon. This would not only help you grow your own food no matter where you are but also provide you with a steady source of fresh fruits and vegetables with growing conditions you control.

Even better, indoor gardening during crises helps you keep busy since it can be depressing to sit around doing nothing. Through indoor gardening, you can source ingredients to incorporate with canned food like:

  • Microgreens
  • Sprouts
  • Kales
  • Spinach
  • Spices like basil, cilantro, mints, and celery among others
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Spring onions

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when facing an emergency, remember not to panic. Choose long term supplies, including canned food, for emergencies; canned food will supply you with the nutrients you need while you balance them with any fresh content you can find. Buy them in bulk so they can see you through the crisis and beyond.

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