50 Days of ‘Survival’ Calories with Rice and Beans

Ken Jorgustin
By Ken Jorgustin May 7, 2015 11:55

50 Days of ‘Survival’ Calories with Rice and Beans

Editor’s Note: The rice and beans combination is not random at all.

First, white rice has about 90 percent carbohydrates, which makes it one of the best survival foods. But it lacks the protein and fats (essentials on the long run) which you can get from beans (35% protein – the highest protein content of any seed crop – and 14% fats) – Related: Ingenious Foods People Made During Famines

Second, white rice and beans can last up to 30 years. White rice lasts for 4-5 years (oxygen free white rice lasts for 30 years) and beans almost indefinitely in the absence of oxygen and light. (Source: 20 Foods that Will Outlast You)

And third: they are cheap! The giant 20lb bag of white rice is about $8-10/bag. So, 30 lbs of rice (a 5 gallon bucket) is about $14. The dried beans can be found in 2 lbs bags at Walmart for $3.32. So, 30 lbs of beans (a 5 gallon bucket) is $49.8.

So, a 5 gallon bucket of rice and a 5 gallon bucket of beans would cost you about $64. Pretty cheap for a 50 days food reserve!

This was calculated for 2000 calories/day (would be exactly 48.5 days), but we can survive with far less calories/day.

Keep in mind that you will also need a lot of water to cook the rice and the beans.

Related: An Insanely Effective Way to Build a 5 Year Food Stockpile (Video)

by Ken Jorgustin

Rice is rich in starch, and an excellent source of energy. Beans are rich in protein, and contain other minerals. The consumption of the two together provides all the essential amino acids and it is no wonder that this combination is a staple of many diets throughout the world.

Here’s why they are a good combination for long-term survival food storage, and their calories per pound, survival days, etc…


5 gallon bucket of White Rice (30 lbs of rice)

50,000 calories – 25 survival days

1655 calories per pound (uncooked)

590 calories per pound (cooked)

675 calories per cup (uncooked)

205 calories per cup (cooked)

Note: For long term food storage, do not use brown rice (use only white rice) because it will go rancid within a year from its oils.


5 gallon bucket of Beans (30 lbs of beans)

47,000 calories – 23.5 survival days

1574 calories per pound (uncooked)

650 calories per pound (cooked)

670 calories per cup (uncooked)

245 calories per cup (cooked)

Note 1: There is a slight variation of calories per pound for different bean varieties. Numbers listed above are an average. They are mostly similar…

Note 2: After many years, beans lose their ability to soften up while re-hydrating in water and the cooking process may result al dente. The beans will remain edible and will not have lost their food value – just saying. Maybe you rotate your beans every so many years…

Having one 5 gallon bucket each of rice and beans will provide nearly 50 days of ‘survival’ calories

While you will not want to eat rice and beans every day and every meal, the combination is an inexpensive food storage ‘staple’ as part of your overall food storage diversity.

Some food storage outlets will sell you rice and/or beans already packed and sealed for long term food storage in buckets. However you can also do it yourself by purchasing in bulk and then use Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and your own 5 gallon buckets. You might also choose to use an ordinary kitchen vacuum sealer and store smaller quantities (which could still be held in 5 gallon buckets for safe keeping).

How To Seal A Mylar Bag In A 5 Gallon Bucket

By themselves, rice and beans are bland. No doubt there are countless spices and other ingredients you can add to increase nutrition and make them more palatable. What are your suggestions?

This article was written by Ken Jorgustin. If you liked it, you can visit his website at Modern Survival Blog

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Ken Jorgustin
By Ken Jorgustin May 7, 2015 11:55
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  1. Burt February 6, 15:51

    You better get out your calculator and be honest about what you are posting!
    At 590 calories per COOKED pound of white rice
    At 650 calories per COOKED pound of beans
    Times 60 pounds total
    Equals 590 x 30 = 17700 plus 650 x 30 = 19500
    17700 + 19500 = 37200 calories
    37200/2000 calories/day=18.6 DAYS
    So, unless you are eating all of this UNCOOKED you are only getting about 19 DAYS of calories in 60 pounds of rice and beans!
    Your going to have to buy another total of 30 pounds
    15 lbs rice + 15 lbs beans
    to get to just 25 days
    Let’s just say 200 lbs of combined rice and beans to get you to 50 days!

    Reply to this comment
    • Jim February 8, 01:09

      You are confused. When you cook uncooked rice, 1 cup = 3 cups cooked. The above calculations by the editor was actually conservative as compared to most information online or on the bags of white rice. So what the editor stated will be right or slightly higher in calories. Sorry, I can see how you got confused Burt.

      Reply to this comment
    • James March 15, 23:34

      Your adding in water weight and throwing away alot of actual beans and rice to do your math

      Reply to this comment
  2. Joanne Mingia Burch February 6, 17:36

    I am finding that some dried beans will NOT cook up to be soft.. they stay hard no matter if you soak or cook longer

    Reply to this comment
    • BillH February 25, 20:35

      I soak overnight in warm water. Start with hot and insulate around the container to retain heat. Don’t know if it will work for really old beans.

      Could you try to crack/crush your beans and try again with a long warm soak? I would be interested to know if that works.

      Reply to this comment
      • warhorse February 17, 07:40

        instead of crack/crush what about grinding them? make a bean flour, soak it till it’s a dough and bake it? or take the dough and make like small dumplings out of it an boil them?

        looks like I have some experimenting to do…

        Reply to this comment
    • Glo September 30, 17:35

      I always put a little baking soda to beans with warm water soaking overnight. About 1 tsp, just rinse well before cooking. Also don’t add salt until after beans are soft, same for corn. I learned that from my grandmother. She’d be about 120 years old if she’d be still alive. Old people knew plenty of prepped stuff also. I’m 70 and wish I had learned more from all them. Miss them all, glad in had wonderful grandparents. God Bless

      Reply to this comment
    • Brenda October 26, 14:32

      Old dried beans that have been left in the original bags from the store do not get soft when cooking. It is important for storage to seal these in Mylar bags or quart jars with oxygen absorbers or vacuum seal.

      Reply to this comment
    • DJ January 5, 23:43

      If your beans are older and have been exposed to too much air and humidity they won’t cook up.

      Reply to this comment
    • James March 15, 23:36

      It takes about a day of soaking, or 24 hours for some beans with a lot of water, and you have to rotate them for all of them to hydrate. But you cannot get back the lack of flavor the drying process took.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Bonn March 4, 17:59

    What I’m doing is I bought the hard red wheat berries from Amazon, 25 lbs for $35. I also got a manual grain mill (in case there’s a long term power outage) also from Amazon (check the warehouse deals, mine had a dinged up box but I saved $6.00) I found recipes online to grind up the pinto beans to add some protein to your whole wheat flour 1 part beans to 3 parts wheat. Also ground up pinto beans can be easier cooked like instant refried beans.

    Reply to this comment
  4. j August 8, 15:50

    Have been told cooking beans in distilled water makes the beans softer. Hard water is a cause for hardness. Also have read using some meat tenderizer makes them softer. I have not tried either.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Lucy December 2, 21:57

    When my husband’s business went belly up back in the mid-80s, I got to test out the rice and beans combo for 10 months. It filled our bellies, and kept us going, but we learned that, after a while, we lost our appetites. (Not an easy way to lose weight!) I remember how exciting it was to have a fresh raw onion to top the rice and beans. Some chili sauce would have been nice, too. Anything. A piece of bread to go with it. That experience colored my prepping, I’ll tell you. Spices, herbs, pickles, hot peppers, even a dash of vinegar would have helped a lot. I’m just glad I had the rice and beans stockpiled. My husband never made fun of my prepping after that.

    Reply to this comment
    • Rae September 13, 18:55

      This is helpful. Thank you! I’m glad y’all seem to be doing better, and that your husband no longer makes fun of your prepping, LOL!

      Reply to this comment
  6. Mamachu January 26, 11:48

    I like to soak beans over night and drain, rinse and re pot. Then add a pack of Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate. I find it in the Mexican food section of the grocery store.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Inkslinger February 9, 16:37

    There was a book circulating in the 1970’s called “Diet for a Small Planet.” It was all about the advantages of rice and beans together. Probably available for short money on used book sites like alibris.com.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Left coast chuck March 22, 18:35

    While a human being can “survive” on less than 2,000 calories per day, if you are engaged in energetic work, you will need more. Everything I have read about the Japanese prisoner of war camps and the Nazi concentration camps indicates that the prisoners were fed a diet that contained 1200 calories a day. We all know how well that worked out for the prisoners. Diminished calorie intake will result in diminished physical response and diminished cognitive ability. The rumor of zombies after an apocalyptic event is not too far fetched. People deprived of sufficient caloric intake may well resemble zombies. They will walk with a shuffling gait and may not respond promptly to verbal commands. To give an example of the kind of caloric intake you will need if you are chopping wood, hauling water, digging fighting holes or just walking long distances hauling heavy gear, C-rations fielded during WWII, Korea and Vietnam contained between 3600 and 4000 calories per day if consumed in their entirety. I haven’t examined MREs but it is my understanding that their caloric value also falls in the same range. So the statement above that one can exist on far less than 2,000 calories per day is true. You can EXIST but you will slowly starve to death and any illness or injury in your malnourished state may easily prove fatal. In addition, I don’t know what vitamins beans and white rice lack, but a diet heavy in corn lacks niacin and will result in pellagra. A diet heavy in white rice will result in beriberi. A diet low in Vitamin C will result in scurvy. Scurvy and beriberi are fatal food deficiency pathologies. Pellagra results in low intelligence in children and stunted growth. During WWII, many draftees, especially from the South were rejected due to pellagra. Corn needs to be treated before the niacin is released. I haven’t reviewed the literature on it recently, but my recollection is that it needs to be treated with lye. The Indians knew that from long experience with the grain but when the Europeans started importing corn they didn’t know about that and as a result suffered from pellagra.

    Reply to this comment
    • Z January 2, 16:06

      Its called Nixmalization (hope spelling is correct) and you can use Pickling lime (quick lime) bought in the canning section. I have done it and it works.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Oldsalt47 April 23, 19:38

    Am I correct to assume that the storage is for a single individual and we will need 30 lbs each of rice & beans for each individual. I am a fan of dried onion flakes and will add a few bottles to my stash.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Karl V. March 23, 15:27


    I have read that rice is one of the most heavily pesticide-treated crops in the United States. Despite the high cost of organic food, I eat very little that is not organic. Anything that you can’t grow for yourself –and rice falls into that category for most of us– should be THOROUGHLY researched for hidden dangers. I had no idea about this arsenic issue (see below) until a couple of days ago.

    The following info is from the ‘readynutrition’ prep site:

    Consumer Reports tested 223 samples of rice products and found significant levels of arsenic in almost all of them, including white, brown, parboiled, jasmine, basmati, and other types of rice.


    Arsenic was found in rice whether it was organic or conventional — and from all regions of the world.

    Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the arsenic in rice:

    To some extent, arsenic can be washed off. Arsenic is water soluble.

    Published studies indicate that cooking rice in excess water (from six to 10 parts water to one part rice), and draining the excess water, can reduce 40 to 60% of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice.

    Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking it, or better yet – soak it for 48 hours before cooking. Pour off the water and rinse the rice every 8 to 12 hours (like soaking beans).

    …..be sure to use filtered water – because water is often contaminated with arsenic too.

    SOURCE: readynutrition.com/resources/21-healthy-meat-free-ways-you-can-add-protein-to-your-diet_20032019/


    Reply to this comment
    • Mark February 11, 06:21

      From what I hear the rice that is contaminated is what is grown in the old cotton fields down south. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops for pesticides (arsenic) and the ground is contaminated. When the rice grows it pulls the arsenic out of the soil. I doubt washing it helps much if the arsenic is IN the rice rather than on it. Much safer to buy the California rice.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Sheepdog April 20, 15:49

    If you cook your beans in a pressure cooker for 35 to 40 minutes they should soften and loose their crunchiness. This was discovered through use of 5 year old beans that were not packed in air tight cans.I do not have any info on meat tenderizer or baking soda or adding salt at the end of cooking time. Pressure cooking works. You should have a pressure cooker as part of your preps, I use an Instant Pot to cook my beans. Rice is another food product that I am just now learning about.

    Reply to this comment
  12. ronny1503 July 2, 16:49

    I add both meat tenderizer and baking soda to beans during cooking – 1 tsp meat tenderizer and 1/2 tsp baking soda. The baking soda also helps cut down on the gassiness of the beans.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Willpower July 10, 20:10

    White rice, red and green lentils are the better choice over beans. They cook in about the same time and add the amino acids need for a complete protein. Store some oil to help keep the calories balanced.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Goldenhawk March 24, 11:33

    For added calories, not to mention nutrition, make pemmican. That way, if the electricity goes, your meat will still be fine. Pemmican can last for years, and is very calorie dense.

    Reply to this comment
    • nutrition March 3, 18:29

      What’s the math on how many cups of cooked/uncooked rice per day and how many cups cooked/uncooked beans per day.
      How much to use for daily meals, and what volume of each does that equate to after it’s been cooked.
      Also how much water would be needed?
      I’m guessing a volumeratio of 1:2 beans:water plus 1:2 rice:water. Not sure how much is needed daily, as I don’t know how many cups rice/beans is needed daily.
      But for 10 gallons of rice+beans, does that mean only 20 gallons of water are necessary for cooking?
      Of course, you’d needed of the daily intake if drinking water in addition to that.

      Reply to this comment
  15. Wes July 10, 07:11

    You can fit about 35 pounds of beans in a 5 gallon bucket.

    Reply to this comment
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