The venerable #10 can is popular with a lot of preppers. These are the big, industrial-sized cans you see on the shelves of Sam’s that are loaded with green beans, peas, carrots, or whatever. They’re awesome, right?
Well, they’re popular with a lot of preppers, that’s for sure. It makes sense. One can with a lot of food, often at a discount because of the bulk, is a wonderful thing when you’re trying to store a lot of food.
However, I’m not a fan.
A #10 can is a great thing for churches, schools, or anyone else who is feeding a lot of people, but I’m not. I have a family of four, and I’m not planning on feeding the whole neighborhood any time soon.
You see, a #10 can has 13 cups of whatever food it’s storing. Since the average serving size is a half-cup, that means a #10 can contains 26 servings. That’s 6.5 meals per can for my family.
Unless we’re just eating that can of vegetables, we’re going to have leftovers. That’s a bad thing in a grid-down scenario. Leftovers are, at least in my mind, waste at a time like that. With the fridge on the fritz for the next decade or so, how are you going to keep that can of peas fresh?
Oh yeah, you’re not.
That’s why your standard, garden-variety can of peas is superior in my not-so-humble opinion. I can open a single can and prepare it for my family. It has five servings for my family of four, which means we can eat 1.25 servings and call it done. No waste.
Of course, this is just a general rule, rather than something hard and fast that all must obey.
You see, there are some things you can get in #10 cans that make a lot of sense. Coffee, for example, often comes in these cans. You open it, use it as you need it, and it’s still shelf stable as is. No refrigeration required.
Further, some preppers like getting wheat and rice in #10 cans. Obviously, these don’t require refrigeration either. Just pop a lid on them and put them back on the shelf until the next time you cook with that ingredient (within reason, at least. Once a can is opened, the clock is running on spoilage, but not like a can of “wet” vegetables).
Storing these may make a lot of sense for some folks. In these cases, I see nothing wrong with it.
However, “wet” vegetables that my family enjoys like peas, carrots, and green beans aren’t good candidates for this.
Plus, there’s another side worth thinking about.
Let’s say you have enough food to begin to barter a bit. Your neighbor is a mechanic and thinks he can get your car running again, and wants some food in return. Sounds fair, right?
Well, you go to pay him, and you break out a #10 can of food.
Someone else sees this can and gets to thinking. Those are bulk storage cans, after all, and most people associate them with restaurants. What else do you have in there, they wonder.
Uninvited guests are a bad thing. While I may not care for some of my neighbors, I’d rather not have to shoot any of them. In part, it’s because once the shooting starts, there’s always the possibility that I’m the one shot instead.
If this can be avoided, I’d rather avoid it.
A regular household can of veggies isn’t likely to elicit much attention unless no one else has any. They’re so common that few will even notice their existence. Even if they notice it, unless we’re deep into the disaster, no one will think it represents anything in particular.
That means you’re not going to have to send anyone out in a blaze of glory. Personally, I’m OK with that. I’d rather my wife and kids not see me as a killer.
That’s my reasons for trying to avoid the #10 can as much as possible. While it might be cheaper, it opens up other issues that I’d just rather not deal with. Besides, the cans we’re all used to work just fine and we can find them anywhere. They stack far more easily on one another that way than trying to work in regular and #10 cans with one another on your food storage shelves.