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

Similar Posts


  1. One point id like to add is how wonderful a simple cheap rice cooker is. whenever i have tried to cook it on the stove I’ve ruined it… I think we got ours at dollar general for $15 and we’ve had it for 5 yrs now… going strong.. I grew up on instant rice, until i married my husband 50% Asian, though his stomach I’d say is 100% Asian…

    so we started to buy rice by the 25 lb bag out of necessity because my husband would eat rice 5 out of 7 days if he had his way, and he has to have jasmine rice… and those 5 lb bags went fast…

    thanks for the ideas… never thought to put it in meatloaf hamburgers!

  2. I store my rice, beans, flour, sugar and bulk pasta in kemp’s plastic ice cream pails.
    They stack easily and have handles.

    1. Not at all! But that will depend on who you ask and more importantly, what current PR campaigns are being run in the food world. White rice is low in fat, high in carbs (which your body converts to energy), and has several vitamins and nutrients (even protein) that your body needs. White Rice can be a wonderful part of your daily diet, especially when eaten in conjunction with other foods as laid out on the food pyramid.
      Brown rice is more nutrient dense than white, because white rice has been refined (which cause it to have a drastically longer shelf life whereas brown rice goes rancid quickly in comparison), but white rice in the US is enriched to help replace those nutrients that were lost in the refinement process.

      There are two big reasons why we often are lead to believe that healthy foods are “unhealthy”= PR and PR. 🙂
      It is important to remember that the food industry is a huge industry. Manufacturers, grocers, transportation, sourcing businesses, etc. HUGE industry. The way to get a consumer to buy your product is to first turn their head towards your product and this is where PR campaigns come in. There are two I can think of off the top of my head that, if I mentioned the all natural, healthy products they have spent the past few years running pr campaigns against folks would immediately have their main tag lines come to mind and could spout them off to me without a thought, having no idea that millions of dollars were spent to get those words and thoughts into their heads.

      Farmers live in dread of the next big PR campaign targeting a fruit, vegetable, or grain that they produce.
      But, there is big money in just that by the companies while they sell “XYZ FREE” products and charge double for alternatives to replace traditional ingredients once they have deemed them “bad”.
      I’m staying away from the two BIG PR campaigns that are most successful right now because folks have been entirely convinced they are true and I don’t want to go there but I will give two veiled examples:
      I spoke to a dairy farmer once about one of the “organic” milks advertising that they were free of a certain “bad” additive and he was so frustrated because he said no dairy farmer used that, it was illegal to, but that they had been seriously damaged by the smear campaign of this one type of milk advertising that they didn’t use it in order to imply that other farmers did.

      One all natural ingredient, which has proven to have health benefits, has had it’s entire industry all but destroyed because producers of competing ingredients began a huge pr campaign about how they are all natural – implying “as opposed to” which led to the entire country viewing an all natural ingredient as synthetic.

      If this all sounds crazy, it is because it is.

      There are two primary types of pr campaigns. One is out and out advertising. These are the big ones wherein you’ll see commercials, ads, blog posts (yes, bloggers are approached with these and I have been offered money to spread untruths about perfectly healthy ingredients before), books, television shows, etc. The other type is a “reputation” campaign where more subtle but just as effective tactics are used to cause you to think of certain things as “bad”.

      The important thing to remember is to just use discernment and common sense and realize that the food world is a huge industry that is constantly trying to find new angles to turn your head to their products – and away from others. You just showed discernment by speaking out and asking about this.

      P.S. One of the campaigns trying to get up steam now is against vegetables in the nightshade family. I have a hard time seeing this one as being successful but it all depends on how much money is put into it. If it is successful, look for folks thinking tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are unhealthy in years to come. But no worries, expensive nightshade free products will spring up everywhere as alternatives :).

  3. Christy, your tips are excellent, I haven’t seen a recipe for microwave rice, I’ve used this for years and never had a sticky bowl and always make enough for leftovers. 3C water, 1 1/2C rice (rinsed) salt to taste, put in large corning bowl with lid. Place in microwave for 5 min high level, stir, put microwave to 11-12 min at level 5, about 2 min before done put in 1T butter, stir, place lid back and finish. You’ll have the fluffiest most beautiful rice you can get…’s the ONLY way to cook rice! I always put half in freezer bag and save for other recipes.

  4. TIP: as well as the 2 L pop bottles, I store rice, beans etc in the 4 L Vinegar bottles. Just make sure they are rinsed and VERY well dried (3-4 days to be sure) before putting anything in them.

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