I'm a person who goes on long outdoor expeditions and there are many canned foods that I would like to bring with me but the weight of the can is just too much. I would like to be able to open a can such as this: enter image description here

and then pour the contents into an aluminum bag such as this: enter image description here

Will this work? how long will this stay good?

What is a way I can keep canned food to last a couple weeks or more when opened and put into a light weight bag?

Thank you.

  • Those aluminium bags are much better for dried foods. Those also have the advantage that you're not carrying loads of water around with you. That's more of the weight than the tin
    – Chris H
    Jun 9 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


Cans, pouches and jars are sterilized once they are closed to kill any pathogens, which is why they store as long as they do. Once you open them the magic is lost as they'll be exposed to bacteria and other organisms that cause food to spoil - without refrigeration they will go bad very quickly. So no, you can't transfer the food from one package to another and keep them from spoiling without reprocessing them, which is a lot of trouble.

Bottom line is you'll need to buy hiking food which is already in foil packets. Fortunately there's plenty of choice.

  • The downside of the hiking pouches is that they're 10-20x the price per serving, and not very nice. But you may be able to find some not marketed for hiking - my local Indian supermarket (in the UK) has a good selection at a good price.
    – Chris H
    Jun 9 at 17:32
  • Totally @ChrisH, you absolutely can spend a mint on fancy hiking food, which is often dehydrated and therefore easier to carry over distances. If you don't want those in the US you can get surplus Army MREs, which aren't exactly haute cuisine but they fill your belly and are reasonable. From my experience neither option tastes that good so you don't need to spend a bomb.
    – GdD
    Jun 9 at 19:13
  • I've had some success with dehydrating my own. The OP may like to look up backpacking chef if that sounds interesting. Another cheap and cheerful option is instant pasta meals with some soya chunks added. They're light and don't use much fuel. No worse in taste than the backpacking stuff. Or 3 courses: nuts, instant ramen, dried fruit & chocolate mixed
    – Chris H
    Jun 10 at 6:59

You can’t.

The moment you open the can, the safe contents get exposed to the environment, and the same food safety rules apply as for freshly cooked food, which means no longer safe (not necessarily spoiled but certainly full of bacteria and fungi soon) after just a few hours.

To achieve a comparable long shelf life, the food in the cans would need to be treated the same way as it was previously during canning, i.e. heated up to a specific temperature for a certain amount of time. This is almost certainly not possible with the bags you are considering. They need to be food safe, withstand temperatures of around 120°C (and you need a pressure canner too) and keep their seal safely and reliably over time. I would expect them to mange neither.

Of course you could consider other methods like pasteurization, but that would probably require refrigeration and still not solve the issue of a safe seal.

If weight is that much of an issue, either buy the kind of food in ready-made pouches or carry the dry ingredients and cook them at your campsite.

  • Not those bags, but there are heat sealable multilayer ones. You would also need to exclude air pretty well, and use a canning approach that ensures the middle reaches the proper temperature. Not easy.
    – Chris H
    Jun 9 at 18:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.