Money Saving Tip: Rice, the Ultimate Budget Extender

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Welcome to another money saving tip! I know a lot of us are already squeaking by with our grocery budgets since the prices continue to increase and now many folks are bringing home less pay than they did before (not to mention those without jobs!) so this is a series I add to from time to time with tips and ideas to get more out of your grocery budget without requiring more from your wallet.

Today’s tip: How to extend your grocery budget using Rice! 

In this post I’m going to show you:

  • How to get rice for about 1/3 of the price grocery stores charge
  • Creative ways to use rice to extend your meals
  • Recipes that utilize rice in budget conscious ways.

Let’s start with how to save money when it comes to buying rice…

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

So here is long grain rice in a grocery store for price comparison.

It is $5.20 for five pounds, so $1.05 per pound.

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

But this 50 pound bag of the same variety of rice purchased at Sam’s Club costs just $17.84 , which comes out to about

35¢ per pound.

This same amount of rice, if purchased for the same going rate as the five pound bag, would run $52.90, a savings of over $35.00 – and we’re not even counting tax!


1. Store it.

Since rice has such a long shelf life (if stored in airtight containers at 70 degrees it is capable of lasting up to 30 years) this is a great food source to purchase in bulk and save some big dollars. You know how we can go to the grocery store and use a coupon to save $1.00? Well think of buying rice in bulk as having a coupon that saves you over $30.00!

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

I don’t store grains or dried beans in their original packaging because it really isn’t designed for long term food storage. So the first thing I do when I buy a bag of rice is divide it up into containers. Clean 2 and 3 liter coke bottles are ideal for this. I also fill up my pantry container. This go around, I was short a few 2 liters so I temporarily stored some in gallon zipper seal bags until I have more 2 liters to use.

If you don’t have a lot of pantry space, you can simply store these two liters under beds, in coat closets, even in that unused space between the back of your couch and the wall!

To wash coke bottles: Rinse well with warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of bleach and fill halfway with water. Put lid on and give a good shake. Rinse well again. Leave lid off and allow to dry for two to three days, or until they are completely dry inside.


Rice is a primary food source for over half the world’s population and a great way to make any meal go further. I love to use rice as a means of extending my meals and trimming my grocery budget. It can serve as a side dish, an entree (when cooked with meat and veggies in it or topped with a little meat and sauce), breakfast, or dessert.

How to use rice to make your meals go further:

•Make it part of the entree. A great way to do this is to prepare your meat in some type of sauce. Then, combine the two either by stirring the rice into the sauce or by serving the meat over the sauce.

A great example of this is my Sticky Chicken Recipe. you can prepare sticky chicken using skin on chicken legs, then serve each chicken leg atop a bed of rice, with a generous spoonful of the sticky chicken sauce poured over. By adding rice to your entree, you can easily use half the amount of meat you normally would, which can make a serious dent in the most expensive part of your grocery budget.

•In Soups and Stews that call for diced potatoes, use uncooked rice instead. Allow half an hour for soup or stew to simmer so rice can cook.

•Use cooked rice in place of oats or bread crumbs in meatloaf and hamburger patties to make them go further. 

•Serve rice as breakfast or dessertcheck out this simple preparation for that.

•This is not food related BUT we keep a rice hot pack around our house for those aches, pains, and headaches that arise from time to time. Take a clean tube sock, fill halfway with rice, and tie a knot in the end. When you need a good hot pack, just heat in the microwave for about a minute or so. Be careful because it gives off a moist heat and can burn skin if too hot when placed directly on it. This is a long lasting heat source that can be made in a jiff!

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

•Freeze it for quick suppers on busy nights – Whenever I make rice, I like to make double the amount I need so I have some for another meal without having to cook twice. Allow rice to cool until warm but not cold, then place in zipper seal freezer bags and smooth flat (this helps it thaw faster). Whenever you need cooked rice, thaw in the microwave or add it frozen directly to dishes that have to cook so that the rice has time to heat up before serving.


Here are just a few recipes from that utilize rice in fun and economical ways to inspire you.

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Mama Reed’s Rice Pudding

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Dirty Rice

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Janice’s Stuffed Peppers

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken and Rice

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Steak Tips Over Rice

This recipe actually uses inexpensive stew meat as the “steak tips” and I usually find that on sale.

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

One Skillet Chili Bake 

Countless ways to extend your grocery budget using rice!

Hot Buttered Sweet Rice

It doesn’t get any simpler than this….and it’s so good!

For more posts in my money saving tips series, please see below.

Money Saving Tip: Rethink Bulk

Money Saving Tip: Go Bananas

Get 8 Meals from 4 Pounds of Ground Beef

35 Ground Beef Recipes To Stretch Your Food Dollar

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  1. Best storage jugs are the scoopable cat litter ones. They wash up easily and have a large opening and a cap that screws on tightly. They are made with a better grade of plastic (#2 HDPE). They’re durable and can hold a lot. I usually buy the jugs that hold 12 lbs of litter. I use a canning funnel which makes it super easy to fill! So, any of you with cats, save your jugs!

  2. When my husband was alive we used to eat a lot of rice and the way he loved it was hot, served with a nice bit of Pure Maple Syrup and some butter… OMG it was so good.. makes my mouth water just thinking about it

  3. Can you reuse your food-grade plastic containers after the rice (or sugar, oats, whatnot) that you’ve stored in them runs out? I’ve been using big ol’ Gatorade containers (since that’s what my hubby drinks and they have the HANDIEST handles), and now that they’re empty, I’m wondering if I need to treat them with bleach again before I fill them back up. Or do I need to start with different containers entirely?

    This post is the reason I got my Sam’s Club membership, by the way! You rock, Christy. 🙂

        1. I am sorry, I should have clarified…I don’t use a regular funnel for that reason. I just use a piece of paper rolled up the size I need to make a funnel or purchase one of the larger funnels available at Auto Parts stores, the seem to have a larger opening at the bottom.

  4. Christy I love your site as it has Real People, Real Food that is Real Good! I just wanted to let you know that the Family Dollar store has 3 liter bottles of their soda for 1.00. They say “new and improved”! I have 5 granddaughters (under 12) and they seem to like it??? Anyway, I have 6 drying now. If you are using these for water storage do you add the bleach (shock) now or when you open them to drink? Thank you for changing the world one recipe at a time.

  5. Thanks for the tip of reusing 2 L bottles and using a 20 oz bottle cut in half as a funnel. I have been saving my sauce jars and using them to store grains, but worried about them breaking with kids in the home. I like having bulk rice in the home for all the reasons you listed. I also like making homemade yellow rice. That was my favorites as a child and now it is one of my daughters as well. Yum!

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