Can a Prepper Have Too Much Rice?

5 and 6-gallon pails of rice and beans
A mix of 5-gallon buckets and 6-gallon Super Pails of dried grains and beans. Some are from commercial sellers, others were put up by Pete.

In preparation of our upcoming move, I recently inventoried the prepping supplies we keep at an off-site storage facility, meaning a 10×15 foot storage unit with a roll up door that you frequently see along the highway.  Ours is actually inside and is air temperature and humidity controlled, which is important if you want to store food as hot temperatures play havoc with your shelf life.

When combining the contents of our off-site storage facility with the food that is happily stored in our new prepper property, I realized that we have 25 buckets of white rice.  This includes long grain rice, converted rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice, the latter of which is our favorite.  Most are buckets we put together with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers and maybe 8 are from commercial providers.  A few date back to our pre-Y2K days, but most are from the 2010 to 2014 era.

As some of my Southern friends would say, that’s a right lot of rice.

We are not planning to live on rice alone; I have a total of 40 buckets of wheat, seven buckets of rolled oats, six buckets of 7-grain mix and four pails of corn.  The wheat includes hard red winter wheat, soft white wheat, and something called Parie Gold from Wheat Montana.  That is also the source of our buckets of 7-grain mix.  Most of the wheat was purchased in pails and they weight 40 to 50 pounds each.  The oatmeal is much lighter and weighs as little as 14 pounds per pail.

A Decade of Rice

If you do the math, we have something like 6,500 servings of rice, or enough to feed my wife and I a serving of rice every day for about 9 years.  Now I like rice, but that sounds like too much.

White Rice
White rice is better for long term storage than brown rice because it will not turn rancid. (Photo credit Dreamstime)

But what if my kids and their significant others show up?  Six people is enough to change that equation.  The available servings drops further if all our prepper friends show up, because we could have 11 or 12 people. What if we are doing a great deal of physical labor and need more calories?  (An official serving is only 150 to 180 calories.) And what about helping the neighbors?  Thankfully, we have enough rice that we can share it with others during a crisis.  It may also be useful for barter.

You can see that we have even more wheat, but if you hand someone a bag of wheat kernels, they probably won’t know what to do with them.  If you hand them a bag of rice, they know to put a pot on and start the water boiling.  Wheat is also less desirable today than in years past because many people have Celiac Disease and cannot tolerate gluten. In contrast, no one is allergic to rice.

I like wheat because it can be ground into flour and baked or used to make pasta.  (We have two manual grain mills and one electric-powered mill.)  It can also be soaked overnight and made into porridge.  Wheat can be sprouted and eaten or the sprouts can be added to bread to boost its nutritional wallop.  You can also grow wheat grass and juice it. Wheat is flexible and an excellent grain for preppers to store, but it can require more preparation than rice.

We Need More Beans

As preppers, we often hear how some societies have lived on nothing but beans and rice or corn and beans.  It is true that you need to combine grains with legumes to provide a full range of amino acids and nutrition.  Based on the research I have done, you need a ratio of 7 parts grain to 3 parts beans, but they do not have to be served at the same meal.  If that’s 7:3 ratio is too complicated, just remember that you need about twice as many grain as you do beans or other legumes.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough legumes stored.  We’ve got eight buckets of pinto beans and an 11-pea-and-bean mix.  We have cases of #10 cans of black beans, red beans, great northern beans, lima beans, lentils and split peas.  But I know for certain that we don’t have the equivalent of 35 5-gallon pails of beans, which is what we should have for that ratio to work out perfectly.  Good thing that we are not living on grains and beans alone but will be supplementing our meals with vegetables, fruits and meats.  It’s also why we store some multivitamins.  In any case, expect we’ll manage.  But I also won’t hesitate to buy some more beans next time they are on sale, and I know I’ve seen 12 -pound bags of black beans and 20-pound bags of pintos at Sam’s Club.

Pinto beans
Pinto beans, which make an excellent companion to rice, are available in quantity at club stores like Sam’s Club.

Both rice and beans will store for decades if kept dry and not exposed to high temperatures. That’s why I am comfortable eating rice put into storage before Y2K.

No Such Thing as Too Much

In conclusion, I would say that a prepper cannot have too much shelf-stable, long-term storage food, but you can have too big a concentration of some foods at the expense of others.  Balance your food preps to ensure you not only have enough to eat, but can provide balanced meals that will keep your family healthy during a long-term emergency.

Rice Cakes Recipe

This easy-to-make recipe is something Pete ate frequently when his mother wanted to use us leftover rice.  It remains a staple in his household today.  It is best served hot with salt to taste.

  • Add left over rice and fluff with a fork, breaking up all clumps
  • Break an egg and add contents to the rice.  Stir in and mix well.  Add more eggs until all the rice is coated and you have a thick slurry.
  • For onto a medium-hot frying pan or griddle forming cakes about 3 inches in diameter and 3/8ths of an inch thick.  Cook at the same heat setting you would use to fry an egg.
  • Cook for a minute or two and use the edge of a spatula to check under the rice cake.  When it is nicely cooked – a golden brown – flip and cook on the second side. 
  • Remove from heat when done (the center should not be runny) and serve piping hot.
Can a Prepper Have Too Much Rice?