Canned foods that last the longest – Top 12 You Should Have

Food is a basic human necessity. Whether you’re preparing for a camping trip, an emergency, or any other type of natural calamity, you must be careful about what food you stock. Most people come up against a wall when determining the best foods to buy for survival. When it comes to canned goods, one thing to keep in mind is their “best by date” because some types can last for years longer than such date.

Are you wondering if what canned foods last the longest? Then you are in the right place! This article lists down the top twelve longest-lasting canned foods you should have in your food supply at all times.

What canned foods last the longest?

The shelf life of canned foods is greatly affected by their ingredients. For example, salt aids preservation and thus increases the longevity of these types of food goods on a store’s shelves. Therefore you will find that the following canned foods last the longest:

  1. Honey
  1. Milk
  1. Coffee
  1. Meat
  1. Eggs
  1. Vegetables
  1. Beans
  1. Lentils
  1. Fish
  1. Rice
  1. Soup
  1. Fruits

Benefits of canned foods

Canned Foods offer many benefits that are especially important in a survival situation. The following are some of the significant benefits of canned foods:

Long shelf life

You’ll be amazed at how long canned foods will keep you going. Some can last up to 30 years, while others may endure much longer. 


Ideally, canned foods require no preparation. This is definitely a benefit when you consider that in a survival situation where you will be focusing on other important things. So, you will need to put a little stress as possible into preparing the food. All they need is a can opener, and they’re ready to go!


Canned foods are incredibly versatile, and this makes them perfect for inclusion in your survival food storage. For example, you can use canned beans to make chili or soup, vegetables to make tuna casserole, and many more.. 

Ease of storage

Canned foods are easy to store and don’t take up a lot of space. You can pack them away in boxes, sacks, or even buckets for convenient storage until you need them.


If you have to bug out, canned foods come with you. They’re easily portable and won’t go bad even if they’re exposed to the elements. This makes them an ideal food to take on the go.


Compared to other long-term food storage items such as freeze-dried foods, canned goods are incredibly affordable. In fact, you can buy them in bulk for pennies on the dollar. This means that you can stock up on your favorite varieties without breaking the bank.

Variety of food options

Canned foods come in various flavors and types, so you’re sure to find something that you love. This is important in a survival situation because you’ll need to have a food that you look forward to eat.

Nutritional value

Despite what some people may believe, canned foods are packed with nutritional value. In fact, they often contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. 


Canned foods are sanitary and can be without fear of contamination. This is a huge benefit, especially if you are preparing for an emergency in which clean water may be scarce.

Able to withstand extremes

Canned foods can withstand extreme temperatures and harsh conditions, making them perfect for use in any climate or environment. 

What canned foods last the longest?

Now that you know all about the benefits of canned foods, it’s time to find out which ones will last the longest. The following is a list of the top twelve canned foods that have a long shelf life:

  1. Honey

Honey is one of the very few food items that have a long shelf life and does not go bad. This is due to its high acidity levels and low water level, which prevents any bacteria from growing inside. As a result, you can be certain that your honey is safe to eat even after the sell-by date has passed. This natural sweetener has a shelf life of up to 30 years and doesn’t require refrigeration. It can be used in baking, cooking, or as a sweetener for tea or coffee.

  1. Milk

Powdered milk is a rich source of protein. The milk will keep for 20 years without turning bad. However, according to studies, the nutritional value decreases by 20% each year. Thus, you should rotate your powdered milk to keep its freshness and nutritional value.

  1. Coffee

One of the essentials you can’t forget is coffee. Its shelf life is remarkable, and drinking it keeps you energized. Coffee can last up to 25 years without losing its flavor or freshness. It should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from heat and light. So you’ll always have a hot beverage on hand when you need one.

  1. Meat

Canned meat is a great way to add protein and flavor to your food. It has a shelf life of up to 10 years, but it’s best to rotate it every two years. Varieties such as beef, pork, chicken, and turkey are all available in cans and make a delicious addition to your meal.

In general, canned meat contains more salt than other canned goods. As a result, it will stay longer on your shelf. You should also think about the other components in the canned meat, such as sauces and sugar while selecting which one to keep. Additional sauces will cause it to deteriorate more quickly on the shelf. A high sugar level will also accelerate quality loss.

  1. Eggs

Many persons are unaware that powdered eggs even exist. They are dehydrated eggs whites that have a shelf life of up to 7 years. To rehydrate them, you just need to add water. They are great for baking and make a good substitute for fresh eggs when necessary. Eggs are a great source of protein, and canned eggs are a convenient way to have breakfast on the go. They last for several years and don’t require refrigeration. 

  1. Vegetables

Canned vegetables are a great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables. They last for up to 5 years, but it’s best to rotate them every year. This will ensure that you’re getting the most nutrients and flavors from your vegetables. Canned vegetables are also affordable and readily available in most stores.

Although fresh and raw veggies are more nutritious than canned ones, they rot more quickly. On the other hand, Canned vegetables have a longer shelf life and are often less expensive. Canned veggies, despite having a lower nutritional value, may last on your shelf for years. Furthermore, canned vegetables are easier to prepare and consume in an emergency situation. Because most canned vegetables are pickled without the use of additional artificial chemicals, they are more natural and less dangerous. 

  1. Beans

Canned beans are a great addition to any diet. Canned beans are high in fiber, and they give you energy throughout the day. These nutritional benefits will ensure that your whole family stays healthy. In addition, beans are high in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and anti-oxides. Beans will make you feel fuller for a long time after eating them while providing your body with the energy it requires. Beans’ shelf life is dependent on storage conditions and can range from 3 to 6 years.

  1. Lentils

Lentils are a great addition to your diet. They are simple to prepare and high in fiber. Having a few cans on hand will keep you full for a long time. Canned lentils can last up to 5 years in your pantry.

  1. Fish

Canned fish can be a healthy and nutritious addition to your diet. Canned fish may provide an easy and nutritious meal for you. In addition, canned fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that help lower the risk for heart problems. Canned fish is an essential item on any prepper’s storage shelf. It’s high in protein and can survive for up to five years when properly stored.

  1. Rice

Rice is a staple part of the diet for many cultures. It has a high-calorie content and provides nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates & protein. Rice, when canned, can last for 2 to 6 years.

  1. Soup

Canned soup is an easy way to make a quick and healthy meal. It has a shelf life of up to 2 years and is often high in sodium. Canned soups and broths are a delicious way to get your daily intake of vegetables, meats, or both. 

  1. Fruits

There is no doubt that fruit and vegetables are the backbones of healthy eating. Filled with essential nutrients, vitamins, fiber – they’re packed full of goodness! 

Fresh fruits are much healthier than their canned counterparts, but they rot very quickly. Canned fruits are a delicious and convenient way to get your daily recommended fruit intake. They last for up to 2 years and can be eaten as they are or added to other dishes. Canned fruits can also provide you with essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. However, canned fruits have a greater sugar concentration than fresh fruits. As a result, those who suffer from diabetes should avoid them. 

These are the top 12 canned foods that will last the longest on your shelf. When selecting which ones to buy, think about what meals you’ll be preparing in the near future and what ingredients you’ll need. These canned goods provide a variety of nutrients that will keep you and your family healthy. Make sure to rotate them every year to ensure that you’re getting the most flavor and nutrients possible. Having these items on hand will make it easier for you to prepare a meal during a crisis. Stockpile these foods so that you’re prepared for anything.

Foods to avoid in cans

That said, there are also some types of foods that you should avoid buying in cans. The following are foods that have a low shelf life and will not last as long as other canned goods.

Baked goods, cereal, pasta, and pizza will not last as long as other canned goods and should be avoided. Snacks such as chips and candy bars should also be avoided, as they have a very short shelf life. In addition, avoid canning food that does not have a high nutritional value. 

Factors that affect the shelf life of canned foods

There are many factors that come into play when it comes to the shelf life of your canned goods. Below are a few factors that may affect the shelf life of your canned food.

Shelf Life

The expiration date on your can of food is what you should follow as a guideline for its usability. Canned foods have been known to last for decades past this date, but those aren’t necessarily safe to be consumed. Foods tend to lose taste and quality after their expiration, and they will not provide you with nutrients and energy like they’re supposed to. 

Storage Conditions

Canned foods last longer when stored properly in cool, dark places such as pantries or basements where the temperature remains constant throughout the year. Keeping canned goods next to chemicals such as oil paints or detergents will contaminate them and reduce their shelf life. 

Light Exposure

Canned goods last longer when kept in the dark because light exposure can cause the food to lose its taste and quality. Unfortunately, exposure to light also speeds up the deterioration of canned goods, making them less safe for consumption after a certain period of time. 

Type of canned food

Not all canned foods last the same amount of time. The type of food, its preparation, and the packaging all play a role in how long it will last on your shelf. For example, canned meats tend to have a longer shelf life than canned fruits and vegetables. 

Age of the can

The older the can, the less likely it is that the food inside will be safe to eat. If you have an older can that’s been stored in a cool, dark place, it’s best to discard it and replace it with a newer one. 


Sauces include components that deteriorate faster than canned food’s primary ingredient. Thus canned meat without sauce can stay in your pantry for longer. 


Cans that have been mishandled will not last as long as those that haven’t. So make sure to check for any dents, rust, and leaky containers before buying and storing them. 

When buying canned goods, make sure to keep these things in mind so that you’re getting the most out of your investment. With proper storage and attention to detail, your canned goods will last for years to come.

Signs that your canned food has gone bad

Every year it is good to do a full stock of every canned food one has, rotating out the old families with new ones. The following signs will help you decide if the food you have stored away has gone bad.

Sudden change in color 

Over time food stored in cans will lose its bright color and begin to look dull, old, or gray. If your can looks like it’s changed colors or if it has turned brown, then discard that can immediately. The same goes for rusting on the exterior of the can – these are all signs that something is wrong with what you’re eating. 

Bad smell

If there is a foul odor coming from the canned good when you open it, do not eat any of what’s inside. Just discard it as soon as possible. 

Sour taste

A subtle change in taste is often the first sign that a food has gone bad. For example, if your canned good tastes sour, then it’s time to toss it out. 

Mold growth

If there is any mold growing on the surface of the food, or if there are any signs of liquid seeping out, do not eat it. Instead, throw away the can and anything that came along with it.

Bulging cans

Canned foods will bulge when they have gone bad. If you see this happening with any of your cans, discard them immediately. This is because the seal has been broken, and bacteria may have gotten inside, making the food unsafe to eat.

Swelling cans

Another sign that a canned good has gone bad is if it swells up. If you see this happening, then the food inside is most likely beginning to rot. Discard the can and anything accompanying it.

Leaking cans

If there is liquid streaming out of the can, it means that the seal has been compromised and the food inside is no longer safe to eat. So throw away both the can and its contents. 

Insects or rodents present

If you notice any insects or rodents near your canned goods, it means that they have found their way into your stockpile and eaten into the food. This could lead to poisoning, so get rid of everything that was affected by this to keep your family safe. 


Canned foods can last anywhere from 2 years to decades, but there are many factors that come into play when it comes to their shelf life. Knowing what makes food go bad can keep your family from getting sick and your canned goods lasting for as long as they should. We hope that this article has helped you better understand the shelf life of different canned foods so that you can purchase these long-lasting canned foods for your pantry.


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