Unless you raise livestock for meat, you are at the mercy of the industrial meat complex in an SHTF situation. As I’m writing this article, online retailers are out of canned beef, pork, and chicken, limiting how much you can purchase. Meat, protein, and fats are hard to get in an SHTF situation, so stock up.
13 Reasons Canned Meat is an Excellent Survival Food
- Excellent Protein Source
- Source of Fat, which is often difficult to come by in survival situations
- No freezing, thawing or pre-cooking is necessary
- Shelf Stable
- Long Shelf Life: Most canned meats will last 5+ Years beyond the “best buy date.”
- Unopened cans don’t need refrigeration.
- Pre-cooked so you can eat the meat out of the can without heating
- Commercial canning sterilizes meat
- Sealed Cans are an excellent container for long-term storage
- It remains edible far beyond the best buy date
- In a pinch, you can place the can directly on campfire coals to heat
- Perfect for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 72 Hour Emergency kit.
- Excellent for rotation in a long-term survival pantry.
- Canned Meat loses very little of its nutritional value in the canning process.
Tip: Avoid mixing meat soups that include vegetables or tomatoes when storing meats for long shelf life. These ingredients reduce shelf-life.
Tip: Meat canned in oil has the most calories and nutrition
Warning: Once canned meat is opened, it must be eaten immediately or refrigerated; for this reason, choose cans with a serving size that can be eaten in one meal.
22 Of The Best Types Of Canned Meat For Prepping, Survival, and Storage
|Type of Meat||Fat||Protein||Serving Size||Calories|
|Tuna in Water||.5 g||22g||3oz||100|
|Canned Bacon |
(Chata in Retort)
|Deviled Ham Spread|
Flower Pork Liver
How Do You Use Canned Meat?
You can make anything with canned meat that you can with fresh meat.
Think of it as an ingredient in your meals but with one less step.
There are many ways to use canned meats; giving a comprehensive list is impossible. The following are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
32 Uses for Canned Meat
The most flexible meats will be Beef, Chicken, and Pork but don’t discount fish and seafood; they provide nutrients that the other meats don’t.
- Eat pre-cooked meats cold out of the can
- Heat and eat
- Mix with Rice and/ or Beans
- Mix into cooked pasta
- Eat on a cracker or bread
- Mix with foraged salads or produce from the garden
- Pork, Beef, and Chicken can be used in the same recipes you use for fresh meat
- Canned corn beef is a staple in the Bahamas, cooked as a hash over rice, called “fire engine.”
- Beef and egg noodles
- Chicken and noodles
- Mix into Top Ramen
- Salmon Patties
- Chicken and beef stroganoff
- Cabbage Rolls
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Orange Chicken Stir Fry
- Beef, Chicken, Pork Sandwiches
- Stir-fry with any available fresh vegetables and eat on white rice
- Sardines or kippers on toasted bread
- Beef, Chicken, or Pork with stewed dried beans
- Heat Meat and BBQ sauce and eat on bread or rice
- Chicken Salad
- Make a gravy with meat and canned mushrooms and pour it over rice
- Salmon Spread on Crackers
- Meat Chowder
- Casseroles, Soups, and Stews
- Sloppy Joes
Look at the retailers down below for links to recipes by meat type.
5 Reasons To Avoid Canned Meat As A Survival Food
- High Sodium Content: Avoid canned meats if you are sensitive to salt.
- Nitrates are often used as a preservative (check your label)
- Gravy, juice, or additives are included in the can weight. You’re not getting as much meat as you think.
- The use of antibiotics, poor living conditions, and animal feed are suspect in some cases.
- Not good for bugging out unless you use a cache system. (hiding food and gear in a predetermined location.) Cans are too heavy to carry on foot.
Tip: If you are willing to pay the price, you can get canned meat considered “healthy.” Brands that are organic, free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and sodium-free are available.
How Should I Store Canned Meats?
- Store canned meat on a shelf up off of the floor
- Keep your storage area clean, dry, and cool
- Store 18″ from the wall so air can circulate
- Store at or below 75° F and above freezing
- Rotate your canned meat with FIFO, First In, First Out, a method used by Restaurants. Use the old cans first.
10 Cans of Meat You Should Never Eat
If you are shooting for a shelf-life beyond the “Best Buy” date, you’ll want to inspect your cans before using them to ensure your meat didn’t head south.
Avoid using cans of meat that show any of the following signs:
- Leaking or stained
- Badly Dented
- Foul Odors
- Missing or loose lids
- Meat in the can has a change in color or odor
- When in doubt, throw it out
- Don’t taste-test meat you are not sure of
How Long will Canned Meat Last?
Canned meat has a “best used by date” of 3 to 15 years, but it can last longer. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, A “Best if Used By (or Before Date) is not a purchase or safety date for canned meats. It indicates peak quality, not that the meat is bad.
What Effects Canned Meat Shelf-life?
- The canning process
- The type of meat in the can
- How the can is stored
- How the can is handled
- The condition of the can when opened
According to the United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service, there are three Dates that may be on food products:
- A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
- A “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for the best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date and is not required by law.
- A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for using the product at peak quality. The manufacturer of the product has determined the date.
Read the entire USDA document concerning Food Product Dating. See the link under resources at the end of this article.
10 Popular Brands of Canned Meats for Preppers And Survivalists
Packaged in Lima, Ohio, with two ingredients: Salt and Meat
Keystone Canned Meats
- Ground Beef
- Beef Broth
- Chicken Broth
- Turkey Broth
Head over to Keystone.com and check out their recipes
Werling and Sons, Inc #2
Family-owned since 1896, canning meat since 1966. It started as a butcher shop in Burkittsville, OH
Werling and Sons, Inc Canned Meats
- Canned Hamburger Meat
- Pork Sausage Filling
Werling and Sons Recipes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you recognize Spam as mystery meat in a can. It only contains 6 ingredients: Pork with Ham, Salt, Water, Potato Starch, Sugar, and Sodium Nitrite.
Spam has kept more people alive than any other canned meat on the planet. It first became popular during WWII. In places like the Hawaiian Islands, it’s part of the culture; you can find it in McDonald’s and Burger King sandwiches.
Spam Canned Meats
Some of these flavors are hard to find, depending on where you live.
- Spam Classic
- Spam Lite
- Spam with less sodium
- Spam with Hormel Bacon
- Spam Hickory Smoke
- Hot and Spicy Spam
- Jalapeno Spam
- Teriyaki Spam
- Black Pepper Spam
- Spam with Portuguese Sausage
- Spam with Tocino Seasoning (Filipino style sweet pork)
- Spam Spread
What Is the Most Popular Spam Meal?
Answer: Spam Fried Rice
Interesting Facts About Spam:
- 12.8 cans of Spam are eaten every second
- Spam is sold in 44 countries
- 100 million pounds of Spam was sent to feed troops during WWII
- In Southeast Asia, Spam is given as a luxury gift
- Hawaii eats 7 million cans of Spam per year
- Residents on the Island of Guam consume an average of 16 cans of Spam per person per year
- 8 billion cans of Spam have been sold
Information Compliments of Spam.com
Head over to Spam’s website to check out recipes
Lehman’s is a retail and online store that provides tools and food for people living simpler life. Some canned meat products are branded “Lehman’s, and some are not. In business since 1955 and located in Ohio.
Meat Ingredients: Meat and Salt with no added preservatives or water
Lehman’s Canned Meats
- Canned Beef-Keystone
- Canned Chicken-Keystone
- Canned Turkey-Keystone
- Canned Pork-Keystone
- Canned Ground Beef-Keystone
- Canned Bacon-Lehman’s
- Turkey Broth-Keystone
- Chicken Broth-Keystone
- Beef Broth-Keystone
If you are a survival type, prepper, off-gridder, or homesteader, Lehman’s makes for an interesting browse. Head over and check them out. Lehmans.com
Wertz’s is veteran owned and located in Tiffin, Ohio. Their canned meat is farm-raised without the use of Antibiotics or Hormones, and it’s GMO-free.
“Hello, I’m Don Wertz, and I am the proud owner of Don Wertz Family Farms and Wertz’s Farm Market. My Wertz Family has been raising beef in North West Ohio since 1852. I am the 7th generation of our family and keeping up with the family tradition.”
Wertz’s Canned Meats
- Home Grown Beef
- Home Grown Pork
Check out the Wertz Recipes
Kirkland Signature Brand (Costco) #6
You have to have a membership to purchase from Costco. Their canned chicken is super popular among preppers, as is the roast beef. Roast beef is hard to find. Costco also offers other canned meats in bulk, like Libby’s Vienna Sausages, Canned Albacore Tuna, and wild-caught sardines in olive oil. Their stock is always changing, so you will have to check them out to see what they have.
Costco Wholesale Canned Meats
- Kirkland Signature Premium Chunk Chicken Breast
- Kirkland Signature Solid White Albacore Tuna
- Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
Hormel Foods owns Spam, so this will cover Hormel Meats, other than Spam.
Hormel is processed and packaged in Minnesota.
Hormel Canned Meats
- Smoked Ham
- Chicken Breast
- White and Dark Turkey
- Roast Beef and Gravy
- Ham Patties
- Corned Beef
- Canned Whole Ham
- Pig feet
- Pork Hocks
Armour is owned by the Conagra Corporation out of Chicago
Armour Canned Meats
- Potted Meat
- Deviled Ham
- Vienna Sausage
- Roast Beef With Gravy
- Corned Beef
- Treet Lunch Loaf
Owned by Libby’s Brand Holding, based in Geneva, Switzerland
Libby’s Canned Meats
- Corned Beef
- Vienna Sausage
- Roast Beef
Bumble Bee #10
Bumble Bee is owned by Thai Union Group out of Thailand
Bumble Bee Canned Meats
- Chub Mackerel
- Solid White Albacore
- Red Salmon
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Shelf Life of Food Bank Products PDF
Ready.gov, Build A Kit, Emergency Preparedness link to .gov site
Unites States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food Product Dating PDF