The Calories in a 5-Gallon Bucket of Rice, Beans, and Wheat


If you are preparedness-minded (a prepper), you most certainly are aware of the benefits to store rice, beans, and wheat (among other things). But do you have any idea how to relate the number of 5-gallon buckets of storage to the number of calories contained within?

I’ve done my own measurements and calculations which may help you understand the relationship, and perhaps help with your decisions regarding how much to store.

Perhaps surprisingly, the results are similar…

Note that if you’re purchasing pre-packed long term storage from a vendor, some ship product in 6-gallon buckets, whereas many ship in 5-gallon buckets. Most of what I have on hand is in 5-gallon buckets which I’ve prepared myself – and thus the data listed below:


# Calories in a 5-gallon bucket of RICE

White Rice (30 lbs)

50,000 calories
25 survival days

1655 calories per pound (uncooked)
590 calories per pound (cooked)

675 calories per cup (uncooked)
205 calories per cup (cooked)

Note: For long term food storage, do not use brown rice (use only white rice) because it will go rancid within a year from it’s oils. Calories may vary a bit based on exact variety of white rice.


# Calories in a 5-gallon bucket of BEANS

Beans (30 lbs)

47,000 calories
24 survival days

1574 calories per pound (uncooked)
650 calories per pound (cooked)

670 calories per cup (uncooked)
245 calories per cup (cooked)

Note: There is a slight variation of calories per pound for different bean varieties. Numbers listed above are an average. They are mostly similar…


# Calories in a 5-gallon bucket of WHEAT BERRIES

Hard Red Wheat (33 pounds)

47,000 calories
23 survival days

1424 calories per pound
25 loaves of bread

One cup of ‘hard-red’ wheat berries weighs 7 ounces.
33 pounds of wheat (in a 5 gallon bucket) is equivalent to 528 ounces, so there are 75 cups of wheat in a 5 gallon bucket (528 / 7) which result in enough to make about 25 loaves of bread (3 cups wheat berries prior to being milled – per loaf).

The Gamma Seal Lid
Mylar Bags


  1. Thanks for the info Ken. We tend to store more rice than anything else as it is so versatile. We also have flour instead of wheat berries. Since we vacuum pack it then freeze it (to kill any bug eggs) we have never had problems with the flour. I know its not as complete in nutrition as the wheat berries, but at our age, milling wheat is just too labor intensive. I know there are mills out there to do the work for you, but since I got laid off 3 months ago we are foregoing any large purchases, and it was one of those purchase that kept getting pushed back for other more important large purchase items.

    We also have some stored beans, but neither one of us like beans too much. It’s a nice change but we seem to eat them maybe once a month if that. Instead we have stored larger amounts of freeze dried and canned meats. We also have found powdered peanut butter which seems to hold up longer than traditional peanut butter as the oils that can go rancid have been removed.

    1. You are a good example of how preparedness is slightly different for everyone. There really is no right or wrong — it depends on one’s own circumstances. You’re doing more than most others, so that is a good thing!

  2. Beans can be good if its all you got. Once my paycheck didn’t go into my account when I was young and all I hade to eat till the next day was 2 cans of green beans. Best beans I ever had !!! And that’s why I am a prepper.

  3. Good article. Folks also need to focus on nutrition not just calories though. 30 lbs of rice may give you enough calories for 25 days but you couldn’t survive that way long. I think everyone needs to store up multivitamins along with many different forms of food to stay at least even with what we should be eating.

    1. @poorman, Yes, diversity. Diversity is key to so many things, including one’s food storage. Hopefully those who are interested in the subject will search this site and others for all sorts of information regarding recommendations in that regard.

      Rice, Beans, and Wheat just so happen to be the most popular ‘staples’ of one’s dry goods.

  4. We store alot of rice and dried corn/wheat in 5 gallon buckets.I put a food grade bag in the bucket,fill it and then gas it to preserve it.The right lid(new with the gasket) is important if you want your food to last.We have an electric and manual grain grinders.Bought them both at garage sales for almost nothing.I recommend you also store salt and sugar (at least 100 pounds per person).Don’t forget spices orfood will be bland for sure.Beans have decent protein so they are good to store.Variety will help with food fatigue…

  5. As I recall, Mexico used to lock the prices on rice and beans so the poor could afford to eat. It’s my understanding that you can live on a diet of rice and beans for many years as together they are complete nutrition.

    1. Rice is rich in starch, and an excellent source of energy. Beans are rich in protein, and contain other minerals. The consumption of the two together apparently provides all the essential amino acids and it is no wonder that this combination is a staple of many diets throughout the world.

      1. Rice and beans are still pretty reasonable bought in bulk.. Dry corn too.Folks really need to get enough of the basics and then go from there.Seems like people on this site are way ahead of most …

    2. I suspect (don’t know) that in Mexico, past or current, the food cooked with rice or beans, had various and many additions of spices/peppers/green tomatoes/etc etc etc. Those additions likely fill in any deficiencies.

  6. The good thing about rice and beans is together it gives you complete proteins and it is tasty and versatile, high in calories, easy to store, fairly easy to prepare. The downside is it is low on some essential vitamins and it lacks fats/oils. The vitamins can be made up by gathering wild edibles to eat with your meals. Even in the winter in most parts of the country there are wild edibles that can provide vitamins missing in the beans and rice. Fats/oils are the missing nutrient that is hard to store and hard to acquire in the wild.

    Wheat berries can be eaten for breakfast. One way is to soak them for three days then cook them for 15 minutes. They partially sprout magically producing vitamins and making them softer and more digestible. You will need three mason jars for the process and every morning when you empty the oldest berries you put a half cup of wheat berries into the jar with a cup or so of water. Change the water each morning until you are ready to consume them. I have done this and they are OK, not my favorite but certainly edible.

  7. Instead of buying plain rice, buy parboiled, as it will keep long-term and contains many of the nutrients that are stripped from white rice.
    Please note that Consumer Reports has recommended limits on rice consumption due to the arsenic level. Arsenic is a carcinogen. Google it.

  8. I am curious on the type of salt that is usable. Will the salt for water softeners be viable for table fare, cooking and preserving if processed/crushed?

    1. Some water softening salt is Sodium Chloride, ie: table salt.
      Some is Calcium Chloride.
      Salt is cheap.
      Buy iodized salt, leave it sealed in its package, and seal it in a bucket with an oxygen absober or hand warmer, to remove moisture.

  9. I am of asian descent so I got tired of eating rice 3x/day for 7 days a week. I grew up in So Cal so I ate and enjoyed lots of good Mexican food when I left home. (a break in both routines and habits)

    Rice and beans have been a staple within my household for years. If you have a little bit of meat, some fresh vegetables (but not enough to feed a lot of people) you make burritos, tacos or other items that you can serve multiple people small portions with meat and fresh vegetables. For the asian food lovers out there, I made stir-fry with the meat and rice. (including venison)

    Wheat berries are an inexpensive source of wheat grass and “cat grass” to grow for your cats to nibble on. I tend to prefer using and storing flour for bread making in mass quantities. (thanks for the hint about freezing the flour)

    Another type of flour that one may consider storing (along with lard or shortening) is Maza corn meal (finely ground for purpose of making tortillas.) Mine are not pretty though they get better with practice. The heated stone to bake them on can be replaced by a greased cast iron skillet.

    Another break from routine was when I learned to make my own pasta from the component parts of eggs, semolina flour and other ingredients. I had a room mate that was seriously into Italian food long ago.

    So far, these things are relatively inexpensive. But it is good to have knowledge to know how to fix things that you have on hand when SHTF. This site is wonderful in that there is a lot of shared knowledge out there among people that have had to “make do with what you have”.

  10. is the hand warmer safe with other things like rice and beans to keep moisture out?

    1. A hand warmer and an oxygen absorber are the same composition.
      The components are iron and cat liter (bentonite) (a type of clay) and salt.
      Make your own by using #0000 steel wool, a little bit of salt to cause rust, and optionally a bit of cat liter to slow the reaction with the moisture in the air if you are making a hand warmer. Wrap it up in a porous piece of scrap cloth and wire tie it closed. The steel rusts to bind the oxygen as iron oxide. Hand warmers are found in the local big box store and cheap. I use one per 5 gallon bucket. A sealed mylar bag inside a gamma seal bucket is a good way to preserve grains.

  11. How long will a 5 lb. bag of white rice in it’s original bag keep if stored in an “igloo” chest in a cool dry place?

    1. Theoretically rice stored correctly will last indefinably, BUT I at times don’t really believe what the USDA tells us. As long as you can keep out the critters (including bugs) keep it cool/dry/mold-free it will most likely outlast me. (I’m 62)

      1. My wife and I just cooked white rice that was 10 years old. It was stored in the original bag. The rice tasted great.

  12. Could it be benefical to throw a small oxygen absorber into the bucket (100 CC or so) after verifying that the mylar bag succesfully sealed, just in case the seal breaks years down the road ?

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