What Really Happens When You Only Eat Walmart Cans For 30 Days?

By Diane November 13, 2018 07:21

What Really Happens When You Only Eat Walmart Cans For 30 Days?

We started adding significantly to our food stores a few years ago, and now cans from our first large purchase are beginning to expire. I can donate them to my local food pantry, but my husband (Jim) wants to eat them all – nearly 400 cans of food. I do not want to waste food, so we will try to use them all before their expiration date.

We have always preferred fresh and frozen food, so we don’t normally eat much that came from a can, but my mother used a lot of canned foods when I was growing up, so I think it will be easy enough to convert to canned vegetables.

The Challenge

Jim decided this would be a good time to try living off our food storage, so he has given me a challenge. We will eat only the expiring cans, and I can use any seasonings that I have in my food storage. Unfortunately I haven’t stored very many seasonings, because I have a full complement in my every day cupboard. By his rules these will be off limits.

First Impressions

What Really Happens When You Only Eat Walmart Cans For 30 Days2

In the beginning, we have many foods to choose from. I have stored canned meats, vegetables, and fruits. So, our meals will be fairly normal, it seems. Normally we eat oatmeal, grits or other cereals for breakfast, so our first change is breakfast food. I decide that we will alternate between fruits and the occasional corned beef hash. We really enjoyed the corned beef hash, but we found the canned fruit to be lacking in staying power, we would be hungry again long before lunch time.

For lunches and dinners we will have canned meat and canned vegetables. This seems like an easy solution that shouldn’t require much change to our routine. Unfortunately, we will have to give up bread and pasta.

Initial Inventory

I took an inventory and tried to make meal plans, but we ended up eating what we wanted each day rather than the original plan. Making the meal plans did reveal some imbalances, however. We had enough canned meat to eat one can a day for the two of us. So, if we had the planned corned beef hash for breakfast, that was our meat for the day. We were well stocked on vegetables, but there wasn’t a lot of variety. We had purchased cases of green beans, pinto beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, peas and chicken stock, but only a few cans of potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, and other vegetables and vegetable mixtures.

We had enough fruit to get us through the first three weeks, but would have to switch to purely vegetables for the last week. I tried to save out some of the more filling vegetables like sweet potatoes, but we ended up eating corn for breakfast a few days.

Related: Canning Amish Poor Man’s Steak

Calories and Hunger

What Really Happens When You Only Eat Walmart Cans For 30 Days1

This ended up being a diet for both of us and we lost weight. I lost twelve pounds over the month, and Jim lost five. He was already lean, and really could not afford to lose much more. I’m glad this was only for a month, for his sake. The calorie count of the cans varied, but overall they were lacking. For example, a cup of green beans has only 40 calories. It was difficult to get 600 calories a day, much less enough to supply significant energy for our jobs and life.

Fortunately, we did have some foods with more calories, such as meats, candied sweet potatoes, German potato salad, fruit, and a couple of cans of pie filling. But most of the time we ate large amounts of low-calorie canned food.

The bulk of the meal would fill us up for a short while. However, hunger would return quickly. I considered cheating several times, and I think my husband might have had a few burgers and fries when away from home. I was able to resist the desire to cheat for the sake of the challenge, but it was very difficult. I was hungry most of the time.


The first thing I noticed was a lack of salt. I had not put any salt in my long-term storage, so Jim declared it off limits. Salt makes a big difference to the flavor of foods. Otherwise, the first two weeks went well. The meals were not as good as our usual, but the foods were acceptable. However, it soon became monotonous. Our meats were a rotation of canned ham, corned beef hash, tuna, and canned chicken, plus a few soups with meat. Green beans, corn, carrots and tomatoes were getting old.

I think it would have been easier if I had stocked some different seasonings and spices. Cajun seasoning, All-purpose seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and onion powder would have allowed me to change up the flavor of our meats and vegetables and added more flavor to soup.

Our Favorite Meals

We enjoyed the corned beef hash for breakfast, but learned that some brands are better than others. We also enjoyed the canned ham, possibly because I only had four cans so it was like a treat. We got tired of canned chicken and tuna quickly. I’m not very creative with tuna, so that may have been the problem, and we had more chicken than anything else, so it became monotonous. I had some canned stew type soups and these were a treat, both because it was a pre-seasoned meal and because it was easy to heat and eat.

Related: 14 Must-Have Canned Foods You Didn’t Know Existed

Lessons Learned

We learned a lot about food storage and how to plan for better meals.

  • Buy more fruit for calories, sweetness, and diversity
  • Spices and flavorings are important
  • Don’t forget the salt and pepper
  • Buy an assortment of food, instead of large amounts of any one food at a time
  • Taste a can of each food before buying large quantities
  • Learn to cook the foods you stock in different ways
  • Keep track of expiration dates
  • Buy some foods with higher calorie counts for balance
  • Buy pastas, rice, oil and other filling foods
  • Plan meals with the foods you purchase so you have everything needed

We were able to put together nutritious meals, but we needed more calories and more variety. Toward the end of the month the variety of foods shrank, and we were eating green beans, peas, carrots, and tomatoes over and over again.

I cannot stress enough how important spices, seasonings, and stock cubes are. In the future, I will stock a large variety. All those cans of tomatoes would have been more interesting with spices to make pizza and pasta sauce, or even just by adding a little balsamic vinegar.

We missed the pasta, fresh vegetables, potatoes and butter. I learned how important our vegetable garden is and how much we enjoy many of the foods we eat every day.

I am glad that we spent this month eating our Walmart canned food storage, but I hope I never have to do it for real! I’ll be planning our purchases for food storage differently in the future, focusing on meals, and I’ll be allowing more time to eat the expiring foods.

Questions to Consider

I am not sure about the nutritional value of our month of canned meals. Because of hunger we probably ate more vegetables than usual, but is the nutritional value of canned vegetables acceptable long term? And did we get enough protein in one shared can of meat daily? I would also like to hear your opinions on ways to better plan so that we don’t end up in this situation in the future. How do you rotate your cans?

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By Diane November 13, 2018 07:21
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  1. Wannabe November 13, 13:20

    It’s cold all week long. Bundle up and if you get snowed in then take the advice in the article. Yea I don’t know how vegetarians survive. They must eat a lot of peanut butter or something. Spices are a great thing to stock up on. All spices. Not just salt and pepper. Steak seasoning, creole seasoning, garlic, packs of taco and chili mix, dill, oregano, etc. whatever you normally cook with get it and put in your stores. And if you are cooking and think” I need garlic but I’m out”. No , just get some in your end of world supply. Don’t forget toilet paper as well. Also good point to taste canned food before buying in bulk. Bought English peas because they were on sale twenty cents a can. Bought about four dozen. Fed them to the chickens. Family won’t eat them. As well as canned carrots and mixed vegetables and creamed corn. Chickens loved them all except the English peas. They just trampled on those. So stay away from canned English peas.

    Reply to this comment
    • Txazann November 13, 18:32

      Re: English peas. The cans of small English peas can be utilized in a pea salad. Mayonnaise onions celery cheese cubes or shredded salt and pepper maybe some cucumbers just depending throw it all in there chill it’s really pretty good

      Reply to this comment
    • Mitch November 13, 20:22

      I always bought canned stews,canned and dry beans,instant and regular rice,etc..Then,I thought about WHAT IF? Other than the usual life sustaining supplies,you should stock up on: water,coffee,sugar,salt,pepper,various large containers of dry spices and bottles of vinegars,hot sauces,Worcestershire sauce,ketchup,mustard,flour,baking soda,baking powder,vanilla–Bottles of alcohol,iodine,neosporin,peroxide,band aids,bandages,cotton,q tips,ace bandages,stuff to make splints,crutches-various batteries and flashlights,solar lights,solar battery chargers..rolls of plastic and shovels to build water gatherers..hammers,nails,rope–Anything that you can use to survive and to BARTER with…Even Tobacco and liquor would be valuable. Watch those apocalyptic movies and tv shows to figure out WHAT you would need to survive when TSHTF! I even have a small crossbow.. know the list is Long but think about what you would need if you couldn’t go to the store and buy it.

      Reply to this comment
      • Susie November 16, 01:25

        Precisely what I have done. What if. The list is long but just think what it would take to exist on a daily basis without being able to go buy it. Makes your eyes open (hopefully). You’ve done well. Keep it up.

        Reply to this comment
  2. emmer November 13, 17:32

    do you ordinarily bake biscuits or breads? storing wheat and a hand grinder would make more variety. grinding corn with a hand grinder is only for the strong, but wheat ground coarse and then reground fine is doable for most, tho time consuming.
    beans/rice/corn make a good protein. i think most americans eat way more protein than they need–hey, meat tastes good. but, the byproducts of protein breakdown are hard on your kidneys.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Beefree November 13, 17:40

    This article is so misleading….the expiration date on a can is so arbitrary that you can ignore it it. The nutritional value does not drop significantly well after that date and the ingredients are perfectly fine for years.

    I have opened cans that we have stored that are over3 years old and bought that same product fresh…after preparing in two pans the people I had taste them could not tell me which was the old can good.

    You can also google for info on what the lifespan of canned goods are…tomato products, because of the acidity will not be as long as a can of peas for example, but if you dump your stash because of the expiration date please call me, I’ll come get them.

    Reply to this comment
    • Sue November 13, 21:55

      you are so right…you can eat anything after expiration date…..it does not go bad…

      Reply to this comment
      • Damonzach November 14, 00:04

        Um, I don’t think so

        Reply to this comment
        • Graywolf12 May 6, 19:21

          Expiration dates do not mean the food will kill you. It means the taste will be lost to some degree. Don’t waste money by throwing away good food that has passed the “expiration” date. Most of those dates are “best by” not expiration date. I worked in and taught medical microbiology for over 40 years, so if there was a chance it would hurt us I would not feed it to my family.

          Reply to this comment
      • Armin November 14, 00:48

        For a while. LOL!

        Reply to this comment
  4. Pokey Puppy November 13, 17:57

    For your protein, try protein powder. Try different brands because some are nastier than English peas. I use Syntrax brand. The chocolate truffle flavor is excellent although it’s more expensive. I lived on it after surgery for a month. I did have to supplement it with a multivitamin, calcium chews, and B12. It impressed me enough to put some in storage.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Photogirl November 13, 18:57

    You should try purchasing canned salmon (expiration date into the 2020s) and make patties. Canned Stews can be enhanced by using your stored canned goods. Add dried minced onion to your seasonings it will help with the flavoring in the salmon patties.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Sue November 13, 19:50

    While this is an interesting experiment, I don’t think it is really accurate. In an end of the world situation, you would have your dry goods to pull from, also. In this case, your meals would be more filling and stay with you longer. If you want to stick with canned food, I would consider adding more potato, rice and legumes. I’m not sure what you can add, (other than the legumes), to give you more protein. Part of my plan is freeze dried meat, broken down into meal sized portions. Even with this, I find I need to use oil or shortening to increase the fat intake.

    Reply to this comment
  7. la0508 November 13, 20:05

    I don’t have a link, but I remember looking up the nutrient comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned foods. Canned foods are apparently just as good as fresh or frozen at least in their vitamin/mineral/antioxidant content–UNLESS you heat them up again. That additional boiling really dropped the nutrient content. So, be sure to warm them gently, just take the edge off, if you are eating them for nutrient content.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Ruby November 13, 20:19

    the best canned English peas are LE SUEUR and they really are good, but a bit more expensive.

    Peas with mayo and chopped boiled eggs + onions are really good.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Sam Adams November 13, 21:03

    I have a freeze dryer and I can use fresh and freeze dry and water reconstitutes it. Freeze drying is the answer. AND you can make full blown meals and put them in Mylar packages with an oxygen absorber and can last for 25 plus years. This is the best way to preserve food as you eliminate moisture and the oxygen which both destroys nutrients and food value.

    Reply to this comment
  10. FRANK November 13, 21:19


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  11. Rejoice November 13, 21:44

    Opened a can of chicken noodle soup the other day that was 5 years pass expiration and a can that had a 2019 date. Couldn’t tell them apart. Looks and taste was the same for both cans.

    Reply to this comment
  12. left coast chuck November 13, 21:47

    Having just recently read of an arctic expedition where one of the members died of scurvy, I have made it a point to add Vitamin C pills to my stock. Vitamin C is lost when food containing it is heated. I don’t know if my logic is accurate or not, but that means that all canned goods will have zero Vitamin C.

    In fact the book talks about eating raw meat to obtain the necessary Vitamin C, whereas when they cooked the meat, which made it tastier and far more palatable, the Vitamin C was destroyed and the scurvy came roaring back. Just a couple of days of raw meat caused the scurvy symptoms to recede.

    According to a sidebar in the book, it usually takes about 30 days of little or no Vitamin C for scurvy symptoms to start to manifest themselves, low energy, confused thought, it then progresses into more physical symptoms, sores, stiff joints from bleeding into the joint, bleeding from the nose with no physical reason for the start of the bleeding, bloodshot eyes, petechiae, then shrunken gums and teeth falling out, finally stupor and death.

    I notice that Spam was not on the list of meats. Spam certainly is salty and combined with vegetables will add the necessary salt to the dish to make it more palatable. Also Spam is high in fat. When your diet consists mainly of vegetables, you are not getting the fat you need for energy. While Spam may be the bane of nutritionists in normal times, I would submit that Spam may well be a life saver in an EOTW situation.

    PS: NO! I absolutely do not work for Hormel nor do I own any stock in that company.

    Reply to this comment
    • atomic phil November 14, 03:24

      Sauerkraut helps prevent scurvy (Fermentation can be fascinating.) This can be important if citrus is unavailable.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck November 14, 05:19

        True. I also read recently, and cannot recall whether it was this book about the arctic expedition where all died except an Inuit woman that said that the British Navy used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy before they adopted limes or it was the book about the large Indian town on the Mississippi River. One of the two of them.

        I’m not sure what I would rather do, eat sauerkraut every day or suck on a lime. Can I please have some Tang? Maybe it was America in 1494. Hard to catalog where I read what sometimes.

        Reply to this comment
  13. left coast chuck November 13, 22:07

    I went on line and looked up how much protein a person needs per day. A 5 oz can of StarKist tuna says it has two servings per can. It says a single serving provides 12 grams of protein per serving which they say provides 22% of the daily requirement for a 2,000 calorie diet. If my math is correct, and if the figures provided by StarKist are correct, one would have to eat 2.25 cans of tuna per day in order to obtain the necessary protein.

    Further, I copied this from the internet:

    “The amount of protein needed each day depends on a person’s age and sex. Adult women need approximately 46 grams of protein per day, while adult men need 56 grams, according to WebMD.

    “Infants and children need less protein than adults. WebMD says babies need around 10 grams per day. School-age children should consume anywhere from 19 to 34 grams of protein per day. The recommendation for teens is 46 grams per day for girls and 52 grams per day for boys. Many foods contain protein, but some are healthier than others. WebMD recommends eating lean meats to avoid increasing saturated fat intake. The CDC notes that protein is also found in eggs, dairy products, seeds, nuts, fish and legumes.”

    It is easy to add up what you are consuming each day if one just reads the labels. That, of course, assumes that the labels are correct and without a testing laboratory, we don’t have a clue how accurate the labels are.

    One of the problems I have with “Survivor Food”, those buckets of freeze dried foods with a shelf life of 26 years, is that they depend upon carbohydrates to pack in the calories. Of course, pasta and rice are cheaper than meat and vegetables. If you are considering buying “survival buckets” of freeze dried food, before you put down your hard earned money, be sure to examine the contents label with a discerning eye. See how many meat dishes there are in the package. Don’t just count calories. Look at the protein content.

    I can’t comment on MREs, but I know that C-rations had a meat dish for all three meals per day. It might have been sausage patties in gravy or for some lima beans and ham, but there was meat in every meal. The calorie count ran to about 3500 calories per day if you ate everything in the box and drank the cocoa (or ate it as some did) and used the sugar and cream in your C-ration coffee.

    Reply to this comment
  14. left coast chuck November 13, 22:17

    Overall, I found this article very helpful. It made some good points about monotony of diet. No matter how much we try, we are spoiled in our diet here in the U.S. I suspect as soon as the hunger pangs start to kick in, we will be willing to eat things we now find distasteful and we will be quite happy to have Vienna sausage three times a day —— or tuna fish ten times a week.

    When we know that other foods are close at hand, it is easy to get tired of the same diet day in and day out. When your choice is tuna fish again or nothing, only a very few will turn up their nose at tuna fish again.

    I suspect that all the folks who can’t eat whatever will suddenly find that they are not allergic to peanuts or wheat or whatever it is that they can’t eat now when that is all there is to eat. I think when one is scraping the wallpaper off the wall to get to the wheat paste holding the paper on the wall to keep from starving, the gluten allergy will have long since disappeared. I could be wrong, in which case, those folks are in serious trouble. Folks on a restricted diet will be among the early ones to succumb.

    Reply to this comment
    • Rebecca Ednie November 14, 02:14

      Wow, you don’t know much about allergies and health issues do you? True, many people eat gluten free or dairy free because it’s fashionable not because they are truly intolerant of gluten or lactose. But I’ve never heard of anyone who claims they are allergic to peanuts or any other allergy that’s anaphylactic unless they truly are. And yes, those of us who have serious health issues will be screwed if/when SHTF!! I am reliant on many medications so if society truly breaks down long enough that medications are impossible to get, I’m a goner. So I prep for the short and mid term only. My hubby wouldn’t let me prep more anyway!

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader November 16, 04:20

        Rebecca – have you looked into alternative treatments for your problems? Not all treatments are quackery. It’s just a suggestion. I have a few things wrong too and have found some alternative treatments that have worked so well that even my doctors were impressed and stopped the expensive and nearly useless meds they had me on. These treatments will still be available even after the SHTF.

        Reply to this comment
  15. Homesteader November 13, 23:07

    Canned goods have their place in stored foods but that shouldn’t be the extent of it. At least, the impression I got from the article was that they have stored only store-bought canned goods. Evidently, they have not bothered to learn skills (something I cannot stress strongly enough) that would help them expand their diet like making bread, pasta, butter, cheese, etc. I also got the impression that they don’t can their own foods. There are some lessons to be learned from this article about the monotony of only storing certain types of foods, even if it looks like a large variety, and especially of not being aware of the nutritional and caloric values of what is being stored. It was wise of them to try this now while they still have time to adjust their stores and make the improvements they need to make. Better to learn of your mistakes now than when the SHTF.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dinie November 18, 18:58

      Yes. In a ETOW situation you would eat anything available. At forst I woukd tackle things in the fridge because you only have a few days without it before it goes bad. My problem is that I have a upright freezer full of meat. I am slowly working on canning it so if something happened that woukd be my first priority. Canning the meat so I dont loose it all.
      I dont really like much store canned food so I can my own each year from my garden or things I buy at the farmers market. I have many, many cans stored right now for winter. Depending on when something happened I think we would be ok food wise for awhile.
      Having skills is cery important. I think knowing how to make dofferent meals with what you have is very important. Also, knowing how to garden, can, make a fire so you can cook are vital skills to know. I keep salt in bulk for canning.

      Reply to this comment
  16. MagicBill November 13, 23:13

    You ask about calorie content and a good source is myfitnesspal.com. You can track calories and even scan the barcodes of the foods you’re eating.

    Reply to this comment
    • Meathead November 14, 00:28

      Want to store cornmeal, rice, flour, grits, etc. for a long period of time?
      Use well-washed and dry milk cartons for the container. Gallon size for a family of five or more or one-half gallon for fewer family members.
      Order Oxygen and Moisture adsorbent packs. Put the adsorbent packs in the bottom of the carton and add the contents up to one-inch from the top. Shake the carton to settle the contents until the one-inch space is reached.
      Squeeze two sides of the carton to remove some of the remaining air and screw the cap back on tightly. As long as the sides remain indented, you will know that the carton is airtight.
      Store in a cool, dark space. Heat and light are enemies of long-term storage.
      Oxygen adsorbent pack is to kill any bugs in the contents and to prevent any eggs from hatching.
      Moisture absorbent pack is to greatly increase the storage time of the contents.
      We have used cornmeal that was stored this way for ten years with no spoilage.

      Reply to this comment
      • Grammyprepper November 14, 06:14

        I would not recommend using milk jugs for storage. Not only will the plastic degrade over time, but it is difficult to get them truly clean enough for storage. Soda bottles are a little better, juice bottles/ thicker water bottles even better long term. Glass would be the ‘ultimate’, but not always practical. I personally have been collecting and using Crystal Geyser Spring water 1 gallon bottles(99 cents at the grocery store, clean spring water to drink vs tap water), as well as some soda and juice bottles for water storage, mainly. The 20 oz soda bottles are good for smaller portion packing too.

        Reply to this comment
  17. IvyMike November 13, 23:56

    I was dirt poor for the 1st 30 years of my life, now I am an old f with a beautiful house and some land and 2 pair of shoes and eat beautiful fresh food I prepare for us every day and night, but I can tell you how to live out of cans. You’re going to survive TEOTWAWKI without canned spaghetti and meatballs? The canned pasta with meat section at Costco is vital to your well being. SPAM. Canned beans. Mix canned beans and canned taters and you will be in poor man’s heaven! Beans and SPAM! My Dad’s family would not have survived the Great Depression without Vienna sausage, they would’ve been devastated w/o sardines and crackers. Canned chili, OMG, have you never opened a can of chili and nestled it close to the coals of a campfire til it bubbles up?
    Mix in a few vegetables, I’m partial to canned green beans, canned corn, shoot canned creamed corn can be a desert, but don’t waste space on tuna, no fat. That’s what these foods have in common, fat and protein, they’re calorically dense, I was working as a stone mason, landscaper, lumberjack, farm labor when I was eating all this stuff, combine it with some cheap cold beer and you will not have to worry about losing weight.
    Add a great thing I learned on this site, Rocket Stove!

    Reply to this comment
  18. Meathead November 14, 00:03

    I’ve never seen a can of fruit, vegetables, etc. with an “expiration date”. Most have an “Use By” or “Best By” date. We have eaten numerous cans of food that were two years past the “date” on the can. Cans with acidic contents tend to eventually leak as the acid eats through the protective lining in the can, so we stay away from them.
    In the Mid-1970’s, I ate Spam that was canned in 1952 and it was good.
    I highly recommend Spam for protein as it can be prepared in different dishes (soup, casserole,stew,etc.) and lasts waaay past the date on the can. Besides, modern cans don’t need a “key” to peel the can open like years ago. lol

    Reply to this comment
  19. Yosemite November 14, 00:15

    I think your experiment is a GREAT IDEA to give one an idea of HA SURVIVAL REALLY MEANS!
    Something to compare like the guy that ate NOTHING but McDonald’s! Ok so you only shopped at Walmart…. BUT doing so you again limit yourself to only one store!

    As someone above you did not have an Canned Salmon..other than tuna I did not see any canned fish such as sardines or Smoked Herring or canned crab or canned brine shrimp or octopus or smoked oysters for OR anchovies example……… You want some variety….
    I did not see any canned evaporated milk or Sweetened Condensed Milk…..or canned crackers
    Another thing I did not see is any cans of Roast Beef and Gravy easily found in Dollar General or such type stores…..
    Now other things you might have to elsewhere….such as canned powdered eggs or canned butter….bread/ cakes…cheese….

    I will take it you learned to add seasonings ….I will make a suggestion on condiments…every time you go to a fast food restaurant….always grab a handful of them no matter the flavors From KFC their so called “Honey” and other “dips” from other places where ever you can find them to some of the flavors Taco Bell has different sauces and degrees of HEAT. Arby’s Sauce or Horsey sauce or Ketchup and Mustard and Mayo. salt and pepper packs Soy Sauce Sugar and creamers, whatever you can find. and put them in the stash of food box or where ever ou are storing in.
    There are numerous other various items packaged in such manner….look around and you might be surprised at what you can find….

    I have seen canned rice but has been a while… One can also find canned Pizza Sauce…..and other sauces!
    Something I store and keep on hand are KIKOMAN BRAND So sauce and Teriyaki sauce because I prefer it over all else I have tried. I also keep the Oyster Sauce.
    Ramen is cheap and filling..maybe not very nutritional…..the seasoning packets can go a long way and cook the noodles and add canned vegges and meat and make a soup…..

    One can use a coffee grinder to grind grains and other things. Maybe get several of them and use one for grains another for herbs or other grown spices…..or whatever…………just saying…..
    Just some thoughts and things to consider……….let me know our thoughts….on this.

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader November 14, 07:41

      On your comment about using a coffee grinder for grains. I’ve not seen a coffee grinder that can grind grain, grind it fine enough for use in something like bread, or even be able to grind the volume needed for making bread. Do you know of any that can? We use one to grind herbs and it struggles to do enough herbs for making one of our herbal blends like pizza or taco seasoning. We don’t make more than about 2 ounces total of either blend at any one time. If you’re planning on grinding grain for bread or other uses, I’d suggest investing in a really good, non-electric grain grinder, and preferably one that can be easily hooked up to a motor or even a bicycle.

      From my own experience, canned milk has a very short shelf-life of only a year or so, if that. OK to have in small quantities that get used regularly. What else can sweetened condensed milk be used for except making pies or other desserts? Wouldn’t powdered milk be a better choice? There’s even a whole milk powdered milk available, but I’ve yet to find it in bulk, only in small jars of about 12 to 16 ounces. I know most people balk at powdered milk but if you mix more powder than the instructions indicate, it makes a better milk. How much more depends on your own taste preference. You just have to add a half-cup or so at a time and then taste it until you get it where you like it.

      Reply to this comment
  20. d. November 14, 00:44

    Walmart sells a pretty good dark bread in a can. It tastes like molasses. It would add variety. You can make a big batch of biscuit mix and put it in glass jars. Be sure to stock oil, crisco/lard, coconut oil. Watch for a sale on packets of gravy, spaghetti sauce, pasta packets. They take little space. For vitamin C, try Tang. Organic sprouting seeds are good to have too. I could never eat only canned food and don’t plan to.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Armin November 14, 00:53

    Lot of other people also forget about the small things like salt, Diane. We can do without sugar but we can’t do without salt. Not only is salt important for a myriad of things bit it also adds iodine to our diet which to me is much more important.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck November 14, 03:02

      Armin: Salt only adds iodine to our diet if it is the iodized variety of salt. One can buy both iodized salt and plain salt in the supermarket.

      However, you are right. In addition to needing salt, we also need iodine. You can get it from seaweed and other ocean products and, of course, added to salt.

      Reply to this comment
  22. roro November 14, 01:30

    if ya dont have nothing good to say shut the heck up & get your head out of your fecal export port

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  23. Highland November 14, 01:34

    Spices and cooking oils such as Olive oil and Coconut oil are extremely important. Not only will the spices make all preserved foods (canned, dehydrated and freeze-dried) much more palatable, but those packets of seasonings such as Chili Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, etc. and packets of gravy mixes such as Country Gravy, Hollandaise Sauce, etc. are very important to stock pile. Whenever spices and packets are on sale at the grocery store, I purchase mass quantities. Not only do I use them constantly in cooking in normal life, but just imagine what I would be able to receive by bartering the spices and packets with someone who, for example, might have a huge amount of ammo and might really be sick and tired of unseasoned Beans, Rice and game animals…LOL. Moreover, drink mixes are also very important. We purchase #10 cans of various drink powders from Thrive Life foods. The Apple Drink, Peach Drink and Fruit Punch are fabulous. The drink powders are a great barter item too.

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  24. Sam Adams November 14, 03:00

    The best way to store food: I have a freeze dryer. Water reconstitutes it or you can eat as is. Freeze drying is the answer. AND you can make full blown meals and put them in Mylar packages with an oxygen absorber and can last for 25 plus years. This is the best way to preserve food as you eliminate moisture and the oxygen which both destroys nutrients and food value. All other ways of storage today are prehistoric compared to Freeze dried food!

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader November 14, 06:36

      Freeze drying may be the way to go but not everyone can afford one. They’re just like the microwaves were back in the 70’s. The first ones for home use were very expensive, costing several hundreds of dollars, some were even a thousand or more. Now you can buy them for less than $75. When the freeze dryers for the home become more affordable, I’ll consider it. Also, they are going to have to do something about the noise level of those things. The last thing I want to do is listen to something louder than a vacuum cleaner for 24 hours or more. For now, I”ll stick to my dehydrator and canners, and keep using O2 and moisture absorbers.

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  25. Silverbullet November 14, 09:43

    OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE! You must add fiber to such new diets. The amount of fiber in those products is not really enough. You can easily do that with cereals with canned milk or nuts are the best. Also on storage of salt and sugar, the paper based containers will get hard as concrete. Place these items in a sealed plastic or glass container. Our preference on the protein is the free range chicken eggs, if you have he space. Others that are high in protein are mung beans, and you can also grow some of them out as sprouts. You really need a balance with long term carbs so potatoes, easy to store and keep, are a must. Anything not canned is going to be more nutritious. We have also placed several thousands of Louisiana cray fish in the swamp near us. Great source of protein without any hassle. They have multiplied to huge numbers. Not going to be available to catch in cold weather tho but for us the catfish that come in to eat the crayfish was a welcome treat! If you are indoors all the time during the event, replacing sunlight is a factor. You can do that rather well with vitamins. Especially the B vitamins.

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  26. JOHN November 14, 11:56

    Great article .refreshed my memory on things I should and should not be doing .( over 70 )
    The comments were also a big plus JOHN

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  27. Redfox007 November 14, 13:05

    Well, I have to say, some people can be fooled all the time. The dates on canned goods are totally stupid. A can of food is good until it starts to bulge, or has rust around the end. They do not change over time. This is a farce and A HEALTH OFFICIAL AGREES WITH ME.

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  28. FLake November 14, 15:33

    If you store what you eat and use normally, rotating your stored supplies you should be fine. The only difference being your on- hand supplies you would be for 3 – 6 months and not just a week.

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  29. Allen November 14, 19:12

    This has nothing to do with this. But when I found it, I thought it would be something to tell preppers. Read the end by whom.
    “A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies, who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause, who home schools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government. Any of these may qualify (a person as a cultist) but certainly more than one (of these characteristics) would cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family (as) being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference.”

    Attorney General Janet Reno in an interview with “60 Minutes”

    Reply to this comment
    • Rydaartist November 15, 16:04

      Read an article in the 80’s about the length of can’s safe shelf life. Their words not mine. 7 years for neutral Ph, 5 years for acidic.

      Reply to this comment
    • Skye November 17, 14:46

      Wow. Guess I’m the ultimate cultist. (well, except that I didn’t homeschool my child.). And proud of it!

      Reply to this comment
    • I can cook anything October 15, 16:36

      So she is a product of liberal college..
      No surprise there. Those people will be the undoingof America if left unchallenged.
      The Ten Commandments are about how people should live,in harmony with each other and with our planet.

      Reply to this comment
  30. Tom November 14, 19:23

    I didn’t read the whole thing, just the bullet points. My observations, * Eat clam chowder and you don’t get cream, but some kind of whitening agent. You will carp white stools, creepy color, * Meat is generally boiled to death before canning, and the stock, (possibly the most nutritious part), is not in the can. They replace the stock with carragenan gum, other non-nutritional fillers, and artificial flavors. There is little meat. I plan to take a can, (American company), and pick the few specks of meat out, dry it in a paper towel, (remove the gum), and weigh the miniscule amount of meat. American companies are run by people who hate the American public. Juanitas, a hispanic brand, is an exception. It probably has the stock removed, but there is plenty of meat, and it wasn’t boiled to extraction of every drop of stock, making it tasteless. It says Wilmington CA, but it may be imported from Mexico to Wilmington. I considered pemmican, (I’m told it tastes awful, but I would of course make tastful dishes with it), but have been steered away. I will be pressure canning raw meat, for the uninitiated, canning cooks the meat, pressure can all meat to avoid death.

    Reply to this comment
    • Wannabe November 14, 22:44

      Yes, pressure canning raw meat is wonderful. Cooks it and locks in all the flavors to enjoy down the road. You can do recipes and add seasoning and vegetables. It is all good. Makes meal time easy because all you have to do is open jar, heat and serve.

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    • Graywolf12 May 6, 19:30

      If you are passing white stools see your doctor ASAP.

      Reply to this comment
      • I can cook anything October 15, 16:38

        So she is a product of liberal college..
        No surprise there. Those people will be the undoingof America if left unchallenged.
        The Ten Commandments are about how people should live,in harmony with each other and with our planet.

        Reply to this comment
  31. mbl November 14, 23:14

    I find the challenge flawed because they author says she and Jim are going to eat only from the cans that are due to expire soon. That usually means it’s going to be lopsided because you’ll find that no one really was excited about the one can of borscht you tried two years ago, and is even less excited now that the remaining six cans you bought at that same sale price around the time you bought that one you ate are now going to be the daily lunch for next week.

    As others have said, there are differences between the best by vs expiration date on food items. Canned food can go bad if it sits long enough on the shelf, but so long as the can isn’t dented, it can usually be safely served past the expiration date. It loses nutritional value over time, and I’m sure if you asked five people how long after the expiration date they’d eat the item, you’d likely get five different answers.

    Having experienced food poisoning from eating 3 olives in a can too-long forgotten on the shelf, I can tell you my time past expiration date will likely be shorter than many.

    I have a Use Me Now shelf where I put items that are nearing their expiration dates. I need to work those items into my meal plan as soon as possible. If I check the dates on my canned or stored foods monthly, it’s easy enough to note which ones have been there awhile or are approaching their expiration date and move them to the Use Me Now shelf.

    I do something similar with frozen foods, too, to avoid losing foods to freezer burn.

    It seems that many are interested in food storage and are adept at stocking up, but they don’t always have a food implementation program. I usually have a mix of fresh, frozen, and canned foods to work with and think having to eat from just one group would lead to problems.

    I’d be interested in knowing if the author and her husband were able to eat up all 400 cans in the time they gave themselves.

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  32. Tennessee Prepper November 15, 01:00

    I think this article is critical for Preppers to consider when looking at their food storage needs. I have a fair amount of self prepared mixture of dry goods (sugar, salt, pepper, grains, beans, powered milk, oats and a variety of other similar items that gives a variety of foods to cook with and eat. However, these as well as can goods are missing one essential thing. They are mostly missing enzymes and other essentials you only get from fresh foods and especially greens. One thing I have added to our regular diet and rotate within my food storage is sprouting seeds. They can be stored long term in Mylar like other items. When sprouted and eaten in just small quantities daily, they can provide the needed enzymes, minerals and vitamins that can make the difference between succumbing to illnesses or staying healthy. They are simple to grow in growing trays or canning jars and are not expensive. Micro greens are also equally life saving in an long term emergency situation. Also, there are lots of food storage plans/checklists out there that can be customized to fit your families needs. I suggest you google food storage plans. There are lots of sites that provide Excel spreadsheets that outline what you need and can easily be altered to your family’s tastes and needs.

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  33. Bill November 15, 03:53

    Good article. As with most things when it comes to prepping, there’s “THEORY” and then there’s “PRACTICE or REALITY”.

    Anyone who’s serious about prepping for more than just a short term power outage, storm, or any local event, really needs to take up this sort of challenge for themselves and find the holes in your plans, or those holes will find you when you are no longer in a position to make the needed adjustments.

    Put in simpler terms like my father and older brothers used to say…EVEN IF YOU PREPARE, YOUR SURVIVAL IS STILL NOT MANDATORY.

    As far as dates on cans, I believe I said this once before…many years ago, waaay before the internet, I spoke with Del Monte Foods and asked about dates on cans.

    They told me that according to the law and truth in labeling, the date has to be put on there, because if the can is stored in less than ideal conditions, like in a cabinet next to the stove where it gets heated and cooled repeatedly, the food inside the can will slowly degrade to a point where the nutritional value of the food inside the can, no longer matches what the label says outside the can. Therefore the can and label have expired or to put it another way, the contents are not at its “BEST”.

    Don’t hold my feet to the fire, but I believe she told me that the label and contents have to be within a 2% of each other, and i kept in less than ideal storage, the can will continue to lose 1 to 2% of food value each year past that date on the can.

    Keeping cans stored in a cold basement drastically changes the “BEST BY DATE” and extends it for years and even decades, but once the can leaves the factory, they have no control how a can is stored, so they always use worse case conditions when applying dates. I’m sure lawyers and accountants have a say in this as well, but what do I know.

    Now for what we buy for long term canned meats, we only buy the best canned meats that have been prepared properly and not cooked to death and have good cuts of meat, not eyelids, lips, ears, and butt holes from old wore out milk cows.

    We buy from Wertz, and they only use young steers that are around 30 to 40 months old, and only the filet, ribeye, and porterhouse cuts for their canned meats. The same is true of their pork. It’s hands down the best meat we’ve ever had out of a can and ready to eat, and for what you get, it’s not any more expensive than what you’d pay for the same cuts of uncooked meat in the store.

    The 28 ounce cans are cheaper per pound than the smaller 14.5 oz. cans, but still run under $12 a pound, and that’s not a bad price for premium cuts of cooked and canned meat that’s ready to eat or for long term storage.

    Pork runs about $9 a pound in the 28 oz. cans.

    No additives, GMO’s, or anything like that. Shelf life in a cool place, like a basement, is 25 years. How they came to that figure….I’m not sure, but if I was to guess, I’d say they know how they do things, and applied big food companies test standards to that and came up with that number…or maybe they’ve stored cans of meat that long since they’ve been in business for generations.

    Another thing I really like about these canned meats is that you can have a few boxes of instant mashed potato’s and the liquid in the can makes a great gravy. Add in a can of Walmart veggies, and it’s a good meal.

    Now I’m not saying buy all high end meats like this, but having at least half your meals each week made with good food, can go a long way for improving moral.

    Everyone should have at least 50 pounds of sugar and 50 pounds of rice stored away, not for long term, but for short term events as well as everyday use. Salt, it’s so cheap I can not see why you wouldn’t have at least 20 pounds for emergency as well as everyday use. You see these basic items get to about half of what you had stored, buy another 50 pounds.

    Even at 25 pounds, you have a good amount of on hand food, BEFORE going into long term stored food.

    For me, I also have 100 pounds of oats and I always have many jars of peanut butter and Hershey’s Cocoa, because we have a great no bake oatmeal, PB, Hershey’s cocoa cookie recipe, and a VERY easy 2 minute PB fudge recipe. I have also added several pounds of semi sweet dark chocolate chips to top my PB fudge. Both are super fast and easy, and really satisfy the sweet tooth chocolate cravings as well as snacking all day long. I do like oatmeal for breakfast too, with some cinnamon and sugar.

    Cinnamon, sugar and rice is also a cheap sweetish snack I enjoy once in a while back when we were very poor.

    We love fried rice and while canned chicken isn’t the best for fried rice, it’s pretty darn good at the same time, and in an emergency, it would be VERY good. I keep a couple of those plastic jars of dried diced onions and mix those in with the chicken and it’s liquid since that liquid has flavor and rehydrates the onions at the same time. We buy Kikkoman soy sauce by the gallon and always have several on hand and use it in the fried rice. Top with some scrambled eggs, or freeze dried eggs, and you’re good to go.

    I keep some of those Bac’n Bits which is just TVP, but added to veggies and canned pork an beans, it really helps with adding a lot of good flavor. I’ve thrown some in when I’m making eggs, mac and cheese, mashed potato’s, and anything else I’m making that I think would benefit from bacon flavoring without having to fry up just a small amount of real bacon.

    I keep pure vanilla on hand too and add some to powdered milk and that makes it taste a lot better and kids will drink it easier too.

    All these things I have on hand all the time and not just for short term emergency use. In my family, we use these items as well as many many other things for flavor and everyday use. It’s not expensive and everything has a long shelf life, and fairly easy to prepare in an emergency or to give away to others who fail to prepare.

    I really enjoy articles like this. Keep up the great work.

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  34. Rydaartist November 15, 16:25

    You must go to a different Walmart than me. Hornel Chili w/with out beans, tamales in a can. Diced Anaheim peppers also green and red enchilada sauce. In the Oriental aisle you could find water chestnuts. So if you have no spices this at least adds variety. Do jars count? Artichoke hearts have olive oil and the heart which makes them rich in flavor and you get fiber.
    Now if you expand to Dollar General they have a canned beef with gravy that could be made into many different meals, canned ham (parts and pieces) but it has a meat gel around it that makes for richness and vitamins.i would also only buy Tuna canned in oil

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  35. EthanHale November 15, 20:29

    Enjoyed the article as well as the comments because it made me think about my preps.

    First I looked at the use of near expiration “best used by” dates as a simple test as to the taste. I for one do not toss items that are past dated. As items get near their dates I donate them to the local food pantries, spread the wealth hoping they don’t remember that I seem to have a large store.

    I have a number of spices both bought, dried and frozen that we use as a matter of ease. I also have a son in law who has a BBQ team that makes their own sauces so we have an abundance of different sauces.

    Rice is a mainstay of my preps as it can be mixed with anything. One thing I did not see but have been faithful in adding are “cream of” soups which either diluted or not can be added to rice to make a “meal”.

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  36. Bev December 4, 18:04

    I would go with more dry/dehydrated or home canned foods. You’d spend less and have a greater variety with DIY caning.

    I have Chili, prok and beans, meatloaf, fish for corquetts, venison steaks, whole quail, halfs of chickens, stews, vegetables, fruits, pickles, even pickeled eggs all in jars.

    Of course we eat them and rotate so they are as freshly canned as possible as the seasons and sales allow for more of a product.

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  37. Red Ant February 26, 23:03

    Wal-Mart Sucks. they only deal in cheap food, there brand is junk.I stopped buying there crapy food. now shop at HEB hell of a lot better and finding out that they are cheaper on there food then Wal-Mart. stop supporting Wal-Mart there in with the GOV. when Wal-Mart runs out of food it becomes a Fema Death camp.

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  38. Tennessee Prepper March 1, 13:40

    The key to health and life living off of food storage is having a good supply of calories, vitamins, minerals and good enzymes. Canned and dried foods can provide you with all the enzymes. You need fresh vegetables/vegetation for enzymes. I recommend that you look into sprouting. Sprouting seeds keep for years sealed in mylar. They are easy to grow in jars or trays and provide a great source of just what your body needs to stay heathy.

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  39. lwbuchholz May 6, 16:48

    I liked the premise of this article. It prompts one to think out of the box and think of what they have and what they would like to have if they couldn’t go to the store. I always say that if you can buy it canned you can can it just do it safely. You can can breads and cakes. So to me this article says think it through and prepare for an emergency. Even for a month they were bored and weren’t eating healthy so they learned something from it and so should we. And I see in the news lots of emergencies last more than a month so it was good thing to think about!!!

    Reply to this comment
  40. Graywolf12 May 6, 19:36

    Am I the only one that likes sardines? I also stock Vienna sausages, and potted meat. Throw out the low fat, low callories, and diet items. I a bad situation you need extra cvalories to exist.

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  41. Mark May 6, 21:37

    It is my belief that you should always have an over abundance of salt on hand, not the poison w/iodine, but pink Himalayan sea salt (purchase at San Francisco Bath Salt co). I personally keep 50+ lbs in stock. One way to preserve meat is to salt it and either smoke it or dry it.

    I didn’t see anybody mention honey. It never goes bad! You can purchase bulk and the worse that happens to it is crystallization (ebeehoney.com). Obviously you use honey to sweeten anything that you wish.

    Reply to this comment
    • Graywolf12 May 7, 14:38

      We all need iodine in our diet to keep our thyroid gland working properly. Himalayan pink may contain iodine, but I’ll have to check it out to be sure.

      Reply to this comment
      • Mark May 8, 21:02

        The following comes from:

        “Although pink Himalayan salt may naturally contain some iodine, it most likely contains less iodine than iodized salt. Therefore, those who have iodine deficiency or are at risk of deficiency may need to source iodine elsewhere if using pink salt instead of table salt.”

        Of course the key phrase in that statement is “most likely.”

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  42. Graywolf12 May 8, 21:29

    It took a lot of searching, but I found a site that gave the composition of HPS. It contain iodine. The article said 0.1 g, but I could not find 0.1 g in what, a Kg, Lb., ton ??? With out iodine we would all have goiters.

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  43. DeltaFoxtrot48 May 24, 19:17

    In a radioactivity event you are going to wish you had iodine on hand. It displaces and blocks radioactivity in the thyroid gland – which is super sensitive to that.
    Of course if you have no protection from fallout, high-dose radiation will just kill you anyway. But for less lethal situations or if you have fallout protection you might want to consider keeping iodine pills around (I get mine from my doctor – I have to take low doses daily with thyroid pills because of low thyroid output).

    Reply to this comment
    • Dinie May 27, 16:30

      True, but thats a whole different discussion. I keep a few different kinds of salt because salt is great to keep on hand anyways. I dont worry about nuclear as much as most people do. I know more about it (cant discuss that here though) as I am involved in the system.

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