Best Canned Meats To Add To Your Survival Pantry
For some reason, canned meats get a bad rap.
And it’s too bad because they’re a powerful emergency stockpiling staple.
They can make an emergency meal a breeze.
So if you get past the stigma, you’ll find a fantastic prepping investment.
That’s why today, I’m going use my background in Engineering, Food Manufacturing & Preparedness to cover the following:
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Best Can Meats To Stockpile (Or For A Quick Meal)
Most of us have grown up with standard grocery store canned protein.
But there’s more variety out there than most people realize.
Here’s a selection of some of the long-shelf-life meats on the market today:
Best Bulk Deal
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, they're delicious.
Preppers, campers, and meat lovers have rated them the "best survival food" time and time again.
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 last so much longer than any you'd pick up at the grocery store?
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.
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 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 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.
Ham & Pork
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.
Hormel Canned Ham has a nice smoky flavor. These 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.
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 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!
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 options.
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 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 & Other Luncheon Meat
Hormel SPAM is "the" meat in a can 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.
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.
How Meat Is Put In A Can
Canning is a technical process.
It uses high heat to destroy any microorganism that may cause premature spoilage.
Most of us are familiar with conventional canned proteins.
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 meat products– especially online.
This variety gives you more options for your emergency food planning.
Or just better quality options for your hearty everyday meals.
↓ How Factories Produce Canned Meat | How It’s MadeClick here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.
Why You Should Stockpile Long-Shelf Life Meats
There are three main reasons to choose canned over fresh:
So let’s briefly discuss all three.
Most 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.
Long shelf life is important for maintaining 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 goods will remain suitable for years or even decades.
This extension is especially true if you push the “best by” dates!
They’re usually “pre-cooked” AND “pre-chunked or sliced.”
Allowing you to simply:
- open the can
- and mix
This helps make your mealtime preparations an absolute breeze.
Note: These are just part of a well-rounded emergency food supply plan.
You should also look into investing in freeze-dried meals as well.
↓ Meat Stockpile – Types Of Canned ProteinsClick here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.
How To Cook Meat From A Can
First, many people have a low opinion of cooking protein out of a can, but that’s a shame.
These shelf-stable pantry staples have been around for hundreds of years.
Back in the 17th century, it was called potted meat.
And it can bring a lot of value to a meal with minimal cooking time and effort.
Since they’re “pre-cooked,” they’re great for:
- Slow-cooked recipes (such as soups)
- Quick finger food snacks (especially sausages)
- Lunchtimes staples (such as chicken salad sandwiches)
- They fry 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. 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 you can do
So as you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate canned protein into your daily cooking process.
↓ Unbelievable Secret Revealed: How To Cook Government MeatClick here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.
Best Canned Meat Features To Look For
Package Size Vs. Portion Size
Packaging, and portion size matter.
The real benefit 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 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, they 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 amount of protein 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 proteins!
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 amount instead of partials.
This strategy leaves everyone well-fed and produces fewer partial can leftovers.
High Sodium Content
As part of the canning and preservation process, most proteins in a can 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 contain even more salt.
To offset this, only add a small amount of salt (or non at all) elsewhere in the recipe.
But you may want to look for low-sodium versions of your favorite meats.
Also, avoid any pre-flavored varieties if you must watch your salt intake.
Preservatives and Fillers
As already mentioned, this food type usually begins the preservation process with salt.
But nitrites and nitrates are other common preservatives found in processed meats.
In these 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 is a significant selling factor.
So it’s worth knowing how long each type will last on your shelves.
Using proper storage practices, you can help your canned protein 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, these 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.
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 are the overwhelming choice for DIY home canners.
But industrial canning 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.
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.Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.
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 protein 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.
The critical piece of equipment is a Pressure Canner.
Why? Because 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.
↓ Canning Meats (Super Easy Raw Pack)
Don’t allow the image of a blah tuna noodle casserole or chunky SPAM and eggs turns you off.
The variety of 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!
Prepare, Adapt & Overcome,
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