Is Rice a Good Survival Food?

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Is Rice a Good Survival Food?

Rice is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world. Whether it’s brown or white, long or short grain, broken or black – we all eat it. But as a prepper you might be wondering: is rice a good survival food?

Well thanks to its density of carbohydrates and calories, it is one of the best survival foods you can find. Rice can also be stored for decades and takes up minimal space. But you need to do it correctly.

In this article I will go over the nutrition benefits of rice, why it’s a great food for long-term storage, and more importantly, how to store rice for the long term. So let’s get to it.

Nutritional Benefits of Rice

Rice is a convenient food because it takes up minimal space relative to its nutrition profile. It is also affordable and lasts extremely long, especially with the right storage tactics.

Rice is packed full of carbs and extremely cheap calories- about 600 calories per dollar. It’s similar to white bread, pasta, and potatoes in this regard. When you are in a survival situation, you are looking for energy first and foremost.

On top of this, rice compliments a myriad of proteins. After all, who doesn’t like rice and beans? Usually people create diverse and high-protein meals with rice and chicken, beef stew, or beans.

As if this isn’t enough, rice is also an allergen-free grain. It is very unlikely that it’ll cause allergic reactions.

Shelf Life for Rice

Most foods spoil very quickly, even the ones you stuff full of preservatives.  Rice is not one of those foods, although you need to keep in mind what kind of rice you are storing.

White and brown rice are drastically different in terms of shelf life. While rice in general is a great survival food, white rice can last much longer than brown. This is due to their differences in oils and nutrients.

Brown rice maintains many nutrients and oils, so it is more prone to spoiling. Its shelf life is drastically shorter than that of white rice but still longer than that of other foods. But it may be worth it to store some brown rice because of critical fiber.

White rice, on the other hand, is mostly stripped of oils that diminish its shelf life. This makes it possible for you to store it for years.

Generally speaking, you can expect the following shelf life from different rice types:

  • Uncooked white rice will last you over 5 years
  • Uncooked brown rice can last for 6 to 12 months

But this is assuming you don’t use any storage techniques. If you use the methods I describe below, you can drastically increase the shelf-life of your rice.

Storing Rice as a Survival Food

Rice is compact, only expanding to three times its original size when cooked. This makes it an ideal food to store. Let’s say that you get a 50-pound bag of white rice at $1 per pound. This will buy you a whopping 252 servings of rice.

The ideal conditions for rice, so it doesn’t go rancid, are cold and dry. The more you provide this for the rice, the longer it will last. In terms of survival food i.e. long-term storage, uncooked white rice is the best option.

If stored properly, rice can remain edible for decades. Still, there are several things to take into account if you wish to achieve such long-term results.

Three things make rice go bad after awhile: mold, bugs, and rodents. Let’s cover them next.

Preventing Mold, Bugs, and Rodents from Destroying Your Rice

Mold has the tendency of turning your survival rice into green and nasty substance that’s no longer edible. Mold shows as a result of four things: organic material such as other food sources, moisture, warmth, and oxygen. By removing such factors, you can lengthen the shelf life of rice.

Rice is best kept in cool temperatures and away from moisture. Humidity is not good for your rice. If you live in an area of high humidity, you may consider using a dehumidifier.

In terms of location, you should put rice underground where the temperature is always cool, such as in your basement. You want to keep your rice away from the floor if possible to prevent moisture from seeping in. This is especially true if you live in an area that is prone to flooding.

Lastly, the best practice for increasing shelf life is oxygen removal, which is quite simple. You merely need to seal the rice from air i.e. place it in airtight packaging. Then, add oxygen absorbers before you seal the package up. A good idea is to use mylar bags as an added measure of preservation.

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This is how you turn 5-years of edibility into decades of delicious and long shelf life food.

Such tools will help you reduce or eliminate mold, but you still have to take some action against rodents and bugs. Rodents are excellent at gnawing things and eating your food. Unless you store your rice out of reach for them, it doesn’t matter how you seal them.

Do everything you can to prevent critters and rodents from getting into your storage location. You can use many things such as traps, metal stripes, not to mention a a cat. Your primary defense will be to make sure there are no critters in the first place.

For best results, you should place your rice stockpile into secondary hard containers. This will eliminate the possibility of rodents and bugs from entering your storage.

Extra hint: there might be bugs in your rice before you even store it

Yes it’s true. Not many people know that even if you do all the above steps correctly, you might be in for a big surprise in the form of bugswhen you open your rice container.

You can do your best to prevent bugs from leaving eggs in your rice by storing them properly. But, you first need to take care of eggs that might be hiding in the rice bag when you buy it. This is gross, but it’s very true.

However, the solution is very simple.

Put the rice in the freezer for a week before you store it long-term. Freezing temperature kills any potential bug eggs buried in your new rice.

Picking the Right Container

Rice will last years even without putting extra effort into it, but you should take all the measures to keep it edible for as long as possible. The best way to increase shelf life is to store the rice in airtight storage containers. When it comes to rice, your best choice is food-grade plastic buckets – with lids, of course.

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Without plastic storage containers, rodents will easily be able to find their way through. Luckily, solid containers are relatively cheap and have a thick, hard plastic that rodents aren’t able to chew through. Thanks to the containers, rodents won’t get to your rice, and neither will oxygen or moisture.

Here is a good video for storing rice in regular, highly affordable containers.

While being able to store your own rice is a great survival skill to have, some of us don’t have the time to do it. If you’re one of these people, you can go with one of the many great food companies that specialize in long shelf-life foods. These “done for you” containers will last about 30 years. These are rice buckets that will be hard to find in most grocery stores.

Cons of Rice as a Survival Food

While rice is undoubtedly one of the best foods you can store long term, there are a few cons.

As preppers, we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Well, one of the worst case scenarios is losing power due to the grid going down. Rice needs to be cooked, and unless you have something like a wood burning stove, you’ll be out of luck.

Even if you have access to cooking materials and fire, rice takes at least 10-20 minutes to cook. Depending on how dire your situation is, getting calories straight out of a can in the form of fruits, veggies, or meat might be more practical.


Next time you think that rice is just a filler or a plain grain with no flavor unless you season it – think again. Rice is one of the best foods period because of its nutrition profile and ease to store.

But rice offers more than health benefits- it is also one of the most cost-effective survival foods today. Generally, a pound of white rice costs about $1. And that pound of rice equates to 591 critical calories.

Remember, when you’re building your prepper pantry, you’re looking not only at cost- ramen is cheap as well. You want to balance out cost and nutrition, as well as long term storage life. We believe that rice meets all these criteria and is therefore one of the foundational survival foods you should be storing.

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