Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Beans and Rice

Can you possibly think of anything more boring to discuss than the subject of Beans and Rice? I know that many of you probably think this article is going to be a bit of a snoozer but for anyone that needs to eat at the lowest possible cost a basic “beans and rice” diet just can’t be beat. This does not mean that you have to eat nothing but these two food items day in and day out. What it does mean however is that if you keep plenty of these low cost foods on hand then you will never have to worry about where your next meal is going to come from.

Right now as I type this up you can get a twenty pound bag of Pinto beans at Wally’s Wide World of junk (Aka Wal-Mart) for about $17.00. A twenty pound bag of white rice is about $10.00. That’s forty pounds of food for less than thirty bucks. The caloric value of a pound of dry, uncooked white rice is approximately 1620, whereas a pound of dried pinto beans is about 1575 calories. If you actually go out and buy a twenty pound bag of white rice and a twenty pound bag of pinto beans you will have yourself 64,000 calories worth of food. Based on an average daily diet of 2,000 calories you will have a 32 day supply of grub. That’s less than a dollar a day per person. Pretty damn cheap!

Beans and rice together will provide you all of the essential amino acids your body requires so it is entirely possible to live off of nothing but these two foods for an extended period of time. I know that some will argue that brown rice is much more nutrient dense than white rice, and this is true but in addition to being more costly, brown rice does not have anywhere near the shelf life that white rice does. For those looking for basic emergency/survival foods that are cheap then white rice (with beans) just can’t be beat. You can store white rice for more than a year with little to no degradation in quality. If properly stored then white rice even two or three years old will still be eatable and provide the body with useful energy. Dried beans store as well if not better than white rice.

I think it’s pretty clear that anyone preparing for the hard times ahead should seriously consider adding plenty of these basic foods to their stockpile. If you only have a three month supply of storage foods on hand right now and you feel that this is inadequate then you can literally double your supply overnight for less than a hundred dollars per person. Not a bad deal.

I have been stockpiling beans and rice for a while now and have plenty of these basic survival foods on hand. If for some reason I were not able to leave the house for months and months I would have plenty of food to sustain me. Let me state right now though, I do not advocate an emergency stash of nothing but beans and rice. I know some people suggest buying wheat in large quantities for a “survival stash”, and wheat certainly does have its merits, but you also need a good dependable grinder which adds a bit of complexity to the equation. But you can walk into almost any store and grab a bag of beans and/or rice right now and have them ready to eat in no time.

Since this blog is aimed more at survival in the here and now and not in a future time when a comet strikes the earth like in the novel “Lucifers Hammer”, or a super volcano plunges us into a three year long nuclear winter I would suggest that you rotate your stock. Don’t go out and buy several hundred pounds of food and bury it in the backyard if your goal is to do some Cheap-Ass-Living now. 

Label your supplies with the date it was purchased and store in a cool dry place away from any vermin. Polyurethane buckets (food grade) are perfect containers to store these items in. You can stack em and easily move them around when needed. Most preppers suggest that you add oxygen absorbers to storage foods and gamma lids to the buckets. This is not really necessary however if you store everything in the proper manner and rotate your stock in a timely fashion. Remember, “first in first out.”

I look at a beans and rice based diet like this. When you build a house in the conventional style you first construct a frame. Once that is done you then fill in everything else such as the roof, the walls, etc. Once that is done you finish it out to your personal preferences. The same is true with what we are discussing here. Build your frame-beans and rice. Add the roof and walls-other cheap food items like wheat/flour, corn meal, pasta, sugar, etc. Then finish it out to your liking-fresh veggies, spices, meats, and so on. 

Remember, we are poor so to achieve self-sufficiency on a limited budget we build on a “pay as you go” basis. I’m starting my dietary framework as cheap as I can with plenty of beans and rice, how about you?


  1. Nightshift here.....Tex, good post, some advice never goes out of style. Hope this post means you will be regular again.....I mean your posts, not the other regular.....well, nevermind. Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you.

  2. Hey Tex! - While growing up in Texas, my family always seemed to have a pot of beans on the stove, so rice and beans in dozens of variations have been staples in my life for a long time. The pinto is a good starting point, but other varieties are also worth considering to add a variety of flavors and textures... and don't forget the lowly lentil! The lentil is every bit as nutritious as the pinto and even has a bit more protein.

    As for wheat, there are a number of ways to prepare it without using an expensive grinder. Wheat berries make a fine cereal after boiling, much like oat groats. The berries can also be added to soups and stews. Sprouted wheat and other grains (even sprouted beans!) can be made into very nutritious breads without grinding using Essene bread recipes. Also, a grain grinder needn't be expensive. I've used a "Corona" type grinder for several years now and can make passable baking flour by running the product through the grinder three times. Such grinders are currently available through Amazon for under $20.

    Expanding on the sprouting topic... sprouting adds another layer of nutrition and flavor to simple grains and beans. They can be considered as near equivalents to fresh produce and vegetables. In addition to the nutrition of the mother seed, once germinated and sprouted, levels of enzymes and vitamins increase dramatically and the sprouts are also more easily digested than the original seed.

  3. OK. A late comment perhaps so no one is likely to read it, but here is my favorite rice and beans story...

    Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king. Years later they meet. As they catch up, the minister in his fine robes takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says, “You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

    To which the monk replies, “If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

    1. Ok. That is awesome and beautiful in it's truth and simplicity. I am remembering and using that story. Btw and for the record I am a vegan. Beans and rice are good but lentils are cheap as well and still go great with rice. Also please remember to add a B12 supplement and of course try to add vegetables if possible.