Best Canned Meat For Emergency Supplies On The Market Today

By Just In Case Jack | Last Updated: April 18, 2020

Best Canned MeatsFor some reason, canned meats have gotten a bad rap over the years.

And it’s too bad because they are a powerful emergency stockpiling staple and can make mealtime a breeze.

So if you can get past the canned meat sigma, you’ll find they’re a fantastic prepping investment for the future AND for today.

That’s why I’m going to share everything I know about canned meats, including:

**Note: If you want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.

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Canned Tuna

What Is Canned Meat & How Is It Made?

Canned meats provide high-quality, protein-rich food packaged in convenient, shelf-stable containers.

Canning meat is a technical process. It uses high heat to destroy any microorganism that may cause premature spoilage.

Most of us are familiar with conventional forms of canned meat. You know, the popular ones found on most grocery store shelves (think tuna). But that’s only a fraction of the options available today.

Nowadays, you can find a much more extensive range of meats – especially online.

This variety gives you more options for your emergency food planning. Or just better quality canned meat options for your hearty everyday meals.

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Why You Should Stockpile Canned Meat 

There are three main reasons to choose canned meats over fresh meats:

  1. Sterilization
  2. Preservation
  3. Convenience

So let’s briefly discuss all three.

1. Sterilization

The majority of canned meats are commercially sterilized in a factory setting. This sterilization process provides consistent products with a nearly indefinite storage life.

Note: This is true as long as the can remains intact and stored at a stable “room temperature” range.

2. Preservation

Long shelf life is important for those looking to maintain a stable food supply. And room temperature storage means you don’t have to rely on refrigeration!

So if the power goes out, your canned meats can remain suitable for years or even decades. This extension is especially true if you’re willing to push the “best by” dates!

3. Convenience

Canned meats are usually “pre-cooked” AND “pre-chunked or sliced.” Allowing you to simply:

  • open the can
  • dump
  • and mix

Canned meat helps make your mealtime preparations an absolute breeze.

NOTE: Canned meats are just one part of a well-rounded emergency food supply plan. You should also look into investing in freeze-dried meals as well.

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How To Cook With Canned Meats

First off, many people have a low opinion of cooking with canned meats, but that’s a shame.

These shelf-stable pantry staples can bring a lot of value to a meal with minimal cooking time and effort.

Since they’re “pre-cooked,” canned meats are great for:

  • Slow-cooked recipes (such as soups)
  • Quick finger food snacks (especially sausages)
  • Lunchtimes staples (such as chicken salad sandwiches)
  • They fry up well with eggs and potatoes in a hearty breakfast hash or a quick omelet.
  • Canned chicken easily drops into any pasta casserole and makes pot pies quick on a weeknight.
  • Heck, try breaking out some southwestern spices to add to your canned meats. This combination works well to make your favorite Mexican dishes. Yummy dishes such as tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.
  • Have you ever heard of “SPAM musubi”? Check it out if you want to change your preconceived notion of what canned meats can do

So as you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate canned meats into your daily cooking process.

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Best Canned Meat Features

Package Size Vs. Portion Size

When it comes to canned meats, packaging and portion size matter.

The real benefit of canned meats is shelf-stable storage – as long as you keep the container sealed. Once you break a can’s seal, refrigeration is necessary. It’s the only way to prevent canned meat leftovers from quick spoilage.

Now, a sizeable canned ham may be the best deal per-ounce. But if you’re planning meals for one, managing the leftovers from such a large portion may not be workable.

Large can sizes are even more of a challenge at a campsite or if the power goes out. Similarly, bulky cans make for heavy packs on backpacking expeditions.

Instead, with smaller packages, you can distribute them among the group to share the load. But this also increases the amount of packaging material used, which can add up and is a waste of weight.

And to make things more complex, canned meat products often include gravy or broth. These additions count towards the weight of the container – meaning less actual protein.

These ingredients act as a substantial filler. Hence, they reduce the amount of actual meat in each container.

So be sure to consider this in your meal and emergency food planning.

You may need to increase the serving size if broth or gravy makes up a significant portion.

For example, a 6oz label may only include 4oz of actual meat!

When you’re planning meals, it’s worth reviewing recipes ahead of time to see how far they’ll go. The last thing you want in an emergency is to be one serving short for your family.

So choosing the right size package is a bit of a balancing act.

I recommend creating meal plans that use the entire meat can instead of only partial amounts. This strategy leaves everyone well-fed and produces fewer partial can leftovers.

High Sodium Content

As part of the canning and preservation process, most canned meats include a lot of added salts.

Why? Because salt helps to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. But this is a real challenge for anyone who’s trying to stick to a low-sodium diet.

Also, the ‘spice blends” in many flavored versions of canned meats contain even more salt.

To offset this, you can try reducing the amount of salt added elsewhere in the recipe. But you may want to look for low-sodium versions of your favorite canned meats.

Also, avoid any pre-flavored varieties if you must watch your salt intake.

Preservatives and Fillers

As already mentioned, canned meats usually begin the preservation process with salt. But nitrites and nitrates are other common preservatives found in processed meats.

With canned meats, manufacturers often include lots of preservatives. They use this tactic to help increase shelf-life and inhibit mold and bacteria growth.

But these preservatives can cause severe food allergies for some.

So some manufacturers use sodium ascorbate instead of nitrites. Unfortunately, there is no complete substitute for “some” level of nitrates. It’s part of the meat curing process.

Shelf Life

Shelf life is a significant selling factor for canned meats. So it’s worth knowing how long each type will last on your shelves.

Using proper storage practices, you can help canned meats remain edible even longer.

A dark, dry pantry with temperatures under 75deg year-round is best.

You should also inspect your canned goods regularly. Use up or discard any severely dented, rusted, or leaking cans immediately.

But, if properly stored, canned meats are generally suitable for up to 5 years past the “Best By” date on the can. But as with all emergency food, it’s best to rotate your canned goods periodically, just in case.

FIFO Mini Can Tracker Stores up to 30 Cans

I recommend using a “first-in, first-out” inventory strategy. And the best way I know to do this is with first-in, first-out canned storage racks.

This inventory strategy ensures you don’t leave cans on the back of the shelf far longer than those in front.

Go here to read more about canned storage racks and organization techniques.

Cans Vs. Jars Vs. Foil Packets

For many years there were only two options for containers used in canning – glass jars and metal cans.

Glass Jars For DIY Canners

Glass jars are the overwhelming choice for DIY home canners. But industrial canning of meats turned to metal long ago.

Modern “tin cans” no longer use tin but instead use steel lined with food-safe plastic.

This structure helps to keep the food inside the can from coming into direct contact with metal. And thus, it prevents “off” tastes and corrosion, which can lead to leakage.

But both of these technologies rely on a more robust, more rigid container.

In the past 20 years, more and more manufacturers have begun using mylar foil packets. These specialty packets are capable of withstanding the pressure and heat of processing.

Example Of Meat In A Mylar Foil Packet

These packages are far lighter than traditional metal and glass. And less waste and requires less space in a pack or pantry.

They allow for packing the food with less water and zero air space. This newer process improves food quality and reduces filler.

Some are even resealable to hold your leftovers if needed. But resealing this way won’t be sterile, so you must keep it refrigerated.

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Best Canned Meats To Stockpile (Or A Quick Meal)

Most of us have grown up with standard grocery store canned meat options. But there’s more variety out there than most people realize.

Here’s a selection of some of the best-canned meats on the market to fill your pantry for today or a future emergency.

Best Bulk Deal

Survival Fresh Canned Meat SelectionAll-Natural Mixed Canned Meats By Survival Fresh

If you want to stock high-quality canned meat for your emergency supplies with a single order – look no further than these deals from Survival Fresh!

First off, these canned meats are delicious.

Just check out some of these reviews – they speak for themselves. Preppers, campers, and meat lovers have rated them the “best survival food” time and time again.

The bottom line is: This ain’t your father’s can of Spam!

Not only does it taste great, but Survival Fresh meats have an ultra-long shelf-life of 25 years! This gives you the confidence to buy in bulk and store them away in your survival pantry.

But how does Survival Fresh Canned Meat last so much longer than any you’d pick up at the grocery store?

Survival Fresh Canned Meat

The Survival Fresh Meat is first sealed uncooked into the cans, then it’s sealed and slow-pressure cooked. This provides a much longer shelf life. 

Grocery store cans of meat are lucky to have an 18-month expiration date. And they’re often loaded with fillers, preservatives, and growth hormones.

Only with Survival Fresh Meats can you enjoy all-natural healthy protein with a shelf life of 25 years.

Canned Beef

Keystone Canned Beef

Keystone Ground Beef comes in a 14.5 oz can, which is a smart size for a single meal.

It’s surprisingly low in sodium for canned beef and high in protein.

So, if you’re looking for the base for chili or a meaty spaghetti sauce, this is it.

Hormel Beef Tamales

Hormel Canned Beef Tamales are a great way to break up the monotony of camp food.

Some people think they’re a little bland, but that’s nothing that hot sauce and a couple of jalapenos can’t fix!

These Beef Tamales can make a quick lunch by themselves or an essential part of a more substantial meal with rice and beans.

Armour Corned Beef Hash

Armour Corned Beef Hash was a staple of camping breakfasts when I was a kid, and it still brings back that memory.

It’s fully cooked and edible right out of the can. But trying frying it up to “crispy” in a pan over the camp stove makes it far better!

Add a fried egg or two, which is one of the heartiest breakfasts you can find.

Each serving has 22g of protein – but it is also quite high in fat and sodium.

Canned Ham & Pork

Dak Premium Canned Ham

Dak Premium Hams are popular for those looking to serve the whole team.

It’s canned meat that’s ready to eat straight out of the can. But the flavor and texture are better if the entire thing is re-heated and glazed in the oven.

They seem to have quite a wide range of prices online, so be sure to watch out for sales.

Butterfield Farms Diced Canned Ham

Butterfield Farms Diced Canned Ham is pre-diced into small cubes. These cubes-sized meat chunks are an easy addition to just about any meal.

I like using it with peppers and cheese for a Denver omelet. But it adds well to soups or ham salad sandwiches as well.

The texture is far better than other canned ham options, but the salt level is a little high. Draining and rinsing the canned ham with warm water before putting eating it helps cut the salt.

Armour Banner Sausage

Armour Banner Sausage is an excellent option for breakfast.

While the packaging shows individual patties, they’re not presliced in the can.

This canned meat is great for picnics, camping, and road trips.

Canned Poultry

Kirkland Signature Premium Chunk Chicken Breast

Kirkland’s Chunk Chicken Breast is one of the most versatile canned meats on the market. You can add it to just about any recipe that calls for chunks of chicken!

It’s an easy addition to sandwiches and pasta and also does well in tacos and chicken salad.

The large pieces also stand up well in a chili or soup, allowing you to add a quick protein.

Valley Fresh 100% Natural Turkey Breast

Valley Fresh Natural Turkey Breast is nothing but white meat turkey breast. This white turkey meat is perfect for quickly dropping into a turkey soup!

In fact, you’ll find the chicken soaking in a seasoned broth. So it’s simple to add some canned mixed veggies and egg noodles will make a great start towards a single pot meal!

Canned Seafood

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Wild Planet Wild Sardines are a great addition to a quick lunch with crackers and cheese.

They’re easy to share and packed with protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. They’re far lower in sodium than many other processed canned meat.

StarKist Solid White Albacore Tune in Water

StarKist Solid White Albacore in water provides a lighter flavor and firmer texture.

It’s incredibly high in protein and simple to use in sandwiches and casseroles.

You can also find plenty of flavored versions of StarKist tuna. These flavored versions give you lots of different flavors for a great lunch wrap.

Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Pure Olive Oil

Genova Yellowfin Tuna contains both sea salt and heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil. This blend makes for a bolder flavor and less of the “dry” texture found in water-packed fish.

The yellowfin tuna itself is less fishy than common albacore tuna. And it’s just as high in protein and omega-3s.

There are also no preservatives or additives. Thus, it makes for a cleaner food option suitable for those with food sensitivities.

It’s not cheap, but this is one of the better sources of canned fish you’re likely to find.

Spam & Others

Hormel SPAM

Hormel SPAM is “the” canned meat that most of us remember. There are lots of varieties of SPAM on the market today, but I like the original best.

It’s inexpensive and provides a good boost of calories, fat, and protein. And while it’s high in sodium and contains nitrates, most similar products do as well.

As with other processed meats, SPAM is best if you slice it and fry the edges crisp. Doing so improves both the texture and the flavor.

Armour Vienna Sausage

Armour Vienna Sausages seem to live in the back of everyone’s cupboard for years. At least until you suddenly have a random sausage craving or run out of other options.

There are plenty of recipes to add to stews, omelets, or even pizza. But I like to slow simmer them in barbecue sauce and serve them as a side dish.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our #78 Item Complete Prepper Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

How To Can Meat At Home (DIY Canned Meat)

Many of us have tried canning fruits and vegetables at home. But we often hear you can’t can meats safely yourself.

And while it’s wise to be cautious, it IS possible to can meat and fish at home – if you have the right equipment.

All American 921 Canner Pressure Cooker

The critical piece of equipment for canning meat is a Pressure Canner.

Why? Because, first off, meat is a low-acid food, which makes it an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.

Because water bath canning for vegetables can only reach temperatures of 212deg, but a pressure canner can safely reach temperatures upwards of 250deg.

That’s a high enough temperature to kill all bacteria and spores – even in meats.

So, if you’re going to try canning meat and fish yourself, make sure to read up on pressure canners thoroughly. Follow all instructions to a T.

Many wild game cooks and hunting websites have many canning recipes for various types of meat.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is another excellent resource.

NEVER skip any cleaning and preparation steps; take them seriously. You must begin with sanitized jars and clean utensils to prevent bacterial contamination.

Take extreme care when prepping the meat because leaving bits of shell or bone or extra fats all affect the quality of the final product.

 Final Thoughts

Don’t allow the image of a blah tuna noodle casserole or chunky SPAM and eggs turn you off of canned meat. The variety of canned meats and seafood on the market deserves a second chance.

They add a quick dose of high-quality protein to any meal and adapt well into many everyday recipes.

They also provide long-term storage without needing to rely on refrigeration or electricity.

If you want to be part of the resilient few, read up on home canning and save that bounty for leaner times.

Take it from me; there are plenty of ways to incorporate canned meats into your survival foods. And once you give it a try, I bet it’ll hook you for life!

Jason K.

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