Storing Canned Food For Emergencies: A Simple and Practical Precaution

Buying extra food to keep your pantry stocked was more common prior to fast food and delivery apps. Modern people accustomed to dining out and ordering in may not keep more than a day of food at home. Yet today’s economic pressures and sobering news reports are a heads-up to prepare for power outages or trucking interruptions.

Our article discusses both conventional and premium (healthier) canned foods you can store today. We’ve included a checklist of shopping options for food purity and packaging materials.

Making Your Own Emergency Food Storage

If you’d like to choose your emergency food storage menu and ingredients, you might want to can, dehydrate or freeze dry your own emergency food stores. Preserving leftovers can lower your daily food cost, too. Here’s our list of equipment for making your own food reserves (also shown below).

You may prefer your own canned food to store-bought. See the All American 1930 Pressure Cooker/Canner.

Dehydrating food is an economical way to store foods. See the Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Food Dehydrator.

Freeze drying is regarded as the most convenient and palatable stored food. See the Harvest Right Food Freeze Dryer.

Conventional Canned Foods

Conventional canned foods are affordable and have long shelf-lives. Canned food was instrumental in settling the American West and has lowered food prices since the 1800s. You can eat canned food cold if necessary. If the lights go out, having canned food on hand beats having no food. (Don’t forget manual can openers and water.)

Planning long-term food stores raises the nutrition and food purity questions many have about their daily diets. Most canned foods are not an ideal diet for prolonged periods, for these reasons:

  • Canned food is heated to sterilize it, reducing some nutrients (but leaving others intact).
  • Foods not labeled Non-GMO (Non-Genetically Modified Organism) may contain genetically modified ingredients. (It’s best to confirm the ingredients of each product and decide what companies to trust for food purity.)
  • Canned foods generally contain salt, as an inexpensive method of preservation.
  • Canned foods may contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Canned foods may list “sugar” as an ingredient but use sugar made from GMO beets.
  • Conventional food cans are lined with plastic containing the chemical BPA to keep their contents from interacting with the metal can. BPA resembles estrogen and can reportedly leach into the food.

Public demand has resulted in more natural canned foods, discussed below.

Healthier and Premium Canned Foods

Laying in a supply of healthier canned food is usually more expensive than choosing regular canned food. Yet companies have answered demands for purer food and safer packaging. You might not find all your favorite foods in BPA-free cans but you can easily find a short-term supply of healthier canned food.

Inexpensive canned food brands now produce low-sodium and unsalted foods. Organic canned foods are widely available and gradually coming down in price.

Some manufacturers don’t line their cans with plastics containing BPA but instead use newer materials. We suggest reading each manufacturer’s promises to avoid chemicals in their canning materials. We’ve included links to products of two such companies, and their BPA statements, below.

Canned Food Quality Checklist

Food Purity

  • Non-GMO
  • Organic
  • Cane sugar specified (Sugar listed may be made from GMO beets)
  • Seafood catch origin (which waters)
  • Seafood tested for mercury
  • Seafood tested for radiation (from Fukushima)*
  • Food country of origin
  • Ocean of origin for seafood

*One company used to test their Pacific seafood for radiation but apparently stopped. We do not know if Pacific seafood carries a radiation risk or not, and suggest doing one’s own research.

Preservative Content

  • Low sodium
  • No salt added
  • No nitrites or nitrates

Packaging Materials

  • Non-BPA
  • BPA Non-Intent (BPANI) (Avoids BPA but doesn’t promise zero BPA)

Healthy Ingredients

  • No added sugar
  • No corn syrup
  • No high-fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit canned in fruit juice, not syrup
  • No MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Gluten-free
  • Not canned in oil

Quick Shopping List of Healthier Canned Foods

These companies are among those carrying non-BPA cans, and describe their packaging materials in some depth.

Eden Foods (Organic non-BPA canned beans and other foods)
Eden Foods Non-BPA Page

Amy’s (Organic non-BPA canned beans, chili, and other foods)
Amy’s Non-BPA Page

Safe Catch Tuna and Seafood
Safe Catch Tuna Non-BPA Page