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!

BUT WHAT DO I DO WITH 50 POUNDS OF RICE? 

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.

2. EAT IT

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.

RECIPES!

Here are just a few recipes from SouthernPlate.com 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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86 Comments

  1. Do you just use a funnel to fill the empty soda bottles?
    Or do you have any other useful tip to do that?
    I was at Costco at the checkout counter when a lady accidently had her
    50 pound bag of rice split – instantly we were all standing in 3 inches of rice.
    What a wild trip!!!!!

    1. For three liters, I actually have a 20 ounce coke bottle I cut the end off of which I use as a funnel, a tip from a friend that world like a charm!
      For two liters, I just roll up some paper into a funnel. It’s faster because I can make a larger opening to fit the bottle. 🙂
      And your story! LOL!!

  2. For those who don’t have a membership to Sams, or a Sams nearby, be sure to check out your local oriental markets. They also have super low prices on rice plus you will find dozens of varieties – basmati, sushi (it subs out well in those Italian recipes like rissoto, & rice pudding)
    Thanks for spot lighting rice Christy. My hubs is from Hawaii and we have always been big rice eaters. Save your leftover rice, one of the best quick meals is put whatever chopped veg you have with meat and fry in a big skillet, splash of soy and a scrambled egg at the end. Few frozen green peas at the end for color. Breakfast sausage links make a delish fried rice meat.

    Good job on your rice report! A+

  3. Other places to purchase bulk rice are Indian groceries and Mexican bodegas. The Indian groceries will have several varieties including Basmati. Basmati is a white rice that has a wonderful smell and flavor. Since we don’t eat much in the way of carbs, I haven’t priced it so it may not be quite as cheap as Sam’s is cheap, but the flavor is a lot better. Mexican groceries will have the regular white rice. We have a lot of Indians, Pakistanis and Hispanics in our city so we have several groceries to choose from. Another option are Asian groceries–they also have bulk rice. Also, another money saving purchase is to buy tortillas at a bodega. I buy my tortillas at Mexican bodegas. They come from a tortilleria and have no nasty preservatives and additives plus are cheap. Pure corn (white or yellow) tortillas are the best for breakfast burritos and they keep well in the fridge if wrapped to prevent drying. Off topic, but when we went through tough financial times with two growing boys, we were fortunate at the time to have a small place where we raised rabbits, chickens, turkeys and a cow plus a half acre garden. We sold several of our flock of turkeys at Thanksgiving and that was our Christmas Fund.

  4. My kids loves eggs & rice. I steam the leftover rice in the microwave, place it in a skillet with a little more water, butter & salt. Beat eggs in a bowl (like you would for scrambled eggs) and then add to the rice. Cook until eggs are done. I use 1 egg per person.

  5. Do you know if you can find brown rice in 50 pound bags? That is what we use to make it a little healthier. I make No Peek Stew and serve it over rice all the time. It is our favorite dish!!! Thank you for all the great hints and tips. We can all use them!

      1. You can freeze uncooked brown rice and it will keep it from going rancid for as long as you need. The reason brown rice can spoil faster is because it is a whole grain, with the bran and germ intact, which also makes it more nutrient dense. I serve it to people all the time and they say they love it even tough they have never eaten it before. It tastes nuttier to most people. Yum.

        1. I really enjoy brown rice, it is my favorite. I just don’t purchase it for long term, it’s one of my short term staples since I reserve the freezer space for meats and such. When it comes to buying a LOT of rice (200 pounds or so), I know white will last 30+ years so I have to go with that.
          But you’re right, brown rice is deee-licious!

  6. Rice is a big staple in our home due to gluten free! It is a great filler and it can stretch a meal to feed your family! Beans and rice baby!

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