The Ultimate Guide to Storing Canned Goods for Emergencies

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Over 60% of Americans have no plan for if and when an emergency hits. One of the best things you can do to prepare for an emergency is to stock up on non-perishable food items. Emergencies can happen no matter where you live – natural disasters have been recorded in every state in the US. That means you can most definitely benefit from keeping your pantry stocked with food that will be ready to eat if a natural disaster knocks out your power or you don’t have access to the grocery store.

Why Store Canned Goods for an Emergency?

During February, National Canned Food Month, we want to remind you of the importance of canned goods in your emergency supplies. In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation, you may not be able to get to the grocery store or have access to power. That's why it's essential to be prepared by stocking up on canned goods and other food items that can serve as a reliable source of sustenance at home. 

Canned goods can typically last around two years when stored properly, which means you don't need to worry about expiration dates if an emergency arises. By having canned goods at the ready in your pantry, you'll be prepared in case of an emergency and won't have to worry about uncertain store availability or power outages. With proper storage techniques, your canned goods will last longer and provide nutritional benefits if the worst should happen.

What Are the Essential Canned Goods to Stockpile?

You want to make sure you have enough food to last for at least a few days in the event of an emergency.

When you are looking for canned goods to serve as your last resort food supply, some of the best options are foods that are high in macronutrients and calorically dense. For example, a can of beans or lentils will provide a combination of carbohydrates and protein, making them great for survival situations. Plus, many types of canned vegetables and fruits are also available, adding vitamin and mineral content to your meals. It is important to eat a balanced diet even when you are recovering from a natural disaster or another emergency.

In addition to the canned goods mentioned above, you should also consider stocking up on non-perishable water and other sources of non-perishable nutrition such as energy bars, beef jerky, and nut and seed butters.

Water bottles can expire, making them a less reliable source of hydration for emergencies. Water bottles are not considered non-perishable because of the material they are made from, which can weaken and degrade over time, causing seepage of chemicals into the water. This seeping of chemicals makes the water inside a plastic bottle unsafe to drink after a certain point.

Instead of stocking up on plastic water bottles, opt for non-perishable emergency water pouches, like our ER™ Emergency Water Pouches. These pouches are designed to stay fresh for up to five years without negatively affecting the quality of the water inside. In addition, they are less bulky and cumbersome than bottles, making them a much better option for situations where you need to evacuate your home.

How Long Do Canned Goods Last?

So now that you know what to keep in your supply, let's talk about how long they last.

Canned goods can last longer when stored in a cool, dry place like the conditions you'd get in a pantry or cupboard. So, if you're storing cans that are in good condition, you can expect them to stay good for:

  • 2 to 5 years for fruits and vegetables

  • 3 to 5 years for high-acid fruits (think pineapple or tomatoes)

  • 4 to 5 years for meat and poultry

  • 5+ years for everything else (pickles, olives, jams etc.)

That said, it's always a good idea to check the "best by" date on your canned foods before you eat them. Bacteria can build up over time and make the food less safe to eat. As a rule of thumb if any of the following conditions are present, dispose of the food immediately.

  • Rusted or Bulging Can

  • Never use a can that is rusted or bulging.

  • Off Color, Flavor, Odor, or Appearance

  • Never eat food that has an off odor, flavor, color or appearance. It is not worth the risk.

How to Rotate and Use Up Stored Canned Goods

When it comes to using canned goods in your emergency stockpile, it's important to be mindful of their expiration dates and rotate your stock regularly. While canned goods may be safe to eat longer than the expiration date, you'll want to use them up before their shelf-life is over. Not only will this help to ensure maximum freshness, but rotating your stock also gives you the opportunity to use up older cans and verify that everything is still in good condition.

You can easily stay on top of your inventory by following a few simple steps:

  • Date cans as soon as you bring them home from the store so you know which ones should be used first.

  • Place new cans behind older ones when stocking shelves and cupboards.

  • Try to use at least one item from each category with each grocery order so nothing gets left behind.

  • Make sure to inspect all cans for signs of damage or spoilage, like swelling or rust, before using them.

Once you have gone through your emergency stockpile, it's time to buy more supplies! Make sure to write down what is already in storage so that you don't end up repurchasing something that is already in your inventory.