Friday, August 14, 2015

I just saved $12 and increased my family's food security

    I just finished splitting a 20-pound bag of parboiled rice into 25 slider-seal storage bags. The rice cost $7.50 and the slider-seal bags (purchased in bulk when on sale) cost about $1.10, for a total cost of $8.60.
    Each of my slider-seal bags of rice contains two cups of rice, which is enough for eight 190-calorie servings. I tend to cook two cups at a time, which is a bit wasteful, since we don’t eat it all. But parboiled rice keeps fairly well overnight in the refrigerator. Parboiled rice, for those who don’t know, is brown rice that has been steamed in the husk, thus retaining 80 percent of the nutrients that are lost when producing white rice. I really can’t tell the difference in taste, except that I prefer parboiled, because it doesn’t get “sticky.”
    A two-pound of bag of parboiled rice sells for about two dollars, so the same amount of rice purchased in two-pound bags would cost about $20. So by buying a large bag and splitting it myself into smaller sizes I’ve saved about $11 on food costs. If you reuse the slider-seal bags, which I usually do, then the savings come to $12.
    One advantage of having a lot of rice on hand is that we eat it more often. Rice is a cheap food, and when it’s there already split into single-meal size it’s easy to pour a bag into the rice cooker and cook a quick, inexpensive meal.
    In addition, I’ve frequently pointed out that saving money on groceries by stocking up on deeply discounted or bulk purchases is a form of disaster planning. It promotes both national and family security. There is about a two percent chance each year of a major natural or civil disruption in the food supply. It’s unlikely, but should such an event occur it certainly would be nice to have a month or so of food in the pantry.
    A 20-pound bag of rice contains 32,810 calories, or enough food to feed a family of four for about five days. Obviously one isn’t going to eat nothing but rice for five days, but with emergency preparedness it’s best to just go through the pantry and add up all the calories and then divide the total by the family’s anticipated consumption level.
    Sugar, by the way, is the ultimate survival food. A four-pound bag has 6,810 calories, or roughly enough to keep a family of four afloat for a day, and it has a shelf life of around a million years. A couple of years ago sugar was on sale for a dollar a bag and I bought 20 bags, or 80 pounds. We’ve slowly chomped our way through most of it, so I didn’t protect us from a disaster, but I saved $30 on the grocery bill. If four-pound bags of sugar go on sale for a buck again I’m buying 100 bags.
    Wise preparation for a disaster that probably will never happen is a good way to save several hundred dollars a year on groceries. So start preparing and start saving today.


Unknown said...

How long will the rice safely store?

Col. Reb Sez said...

Parboiled white rice has a shelf life of several years. If placed in a sealed container with oxygen absorbers, about 25 years. But we will go through 20 pounds of rice in less than a year, so shelf life isn't a real worry.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Note that Brown rice will not keep for more than about six months. There is oil in the husk which will go rancid. Parboiled rice is steamed in the husk, and has most of the nutrients that brown rice has. Traditional white rice contains calories and little else.