Can You Survive on Rice and Beans Alone?

Many cultures worldwide rely on beans and rice as staple components for their meals and consume these foods daily. If rice and beans support the dietary requirements for millions of people worldwide, would they make good survival food? Would you be able to survive on rice and beans alone?

It is definitely possible to survive on rice and beans alone, since the meal is considered to be a complete protein, providing all 9 amino acids that are essential to life. The carbohydrate value of rice provides a good source of energy. Rice and beans partnered together will make a survival food that can sustain you indefinitely if you can stand the boredom!

What makes rice and beans such a good combination as a survival meal, and how much would you need daily to stave off hunger and to have enough energy to sustain an active lifestyle that requires work to be done? People need food that won’t just keep them alive, but provide them with enough energy to perform work, whether that is to grow more food, hunt, or if you are in a survival situation, find a way out!

Rice And Beans – A Power Survival Combo

In many parts of the world, a meal of rice and beans is considered standard fare and would be like meat and potatoes to you and me. In fact, rice and beans are actually a more nutritious meal than meat and potatoes!

As humans, we require 20 amino acids, of which 9 are essential to life and good health. These 9 amino acids, which are essential, are not produced by any bodily function and, as a result, must be taken into our bodies in our food. A meal of beans and rice provides all 9 of these essential amino acids. This makes the combination of these two food types what the health world terms a “complete protein.”

For this reason, it is also a favored meal with people who have opted for a vegetarian lifestyle, and it can be flavored in many ways to provide some variety to the meal!

It is not only a meal that provides you with good nutrition, but the starch factor in the rice also helps you to feel full and satisfied after the meal and keeps you from feeling hungry again for a good while after the meal.

Why Is The Combination Of Rice And Beans Important?

Rice, on its own, is high in an amino acid called methionine, which is 1 of the essential 9 amino acids that we need to obtain from our food intake. This amino acid is lacking in the make-up of beans, but it carries significant quantities of the other eight amino acids that our bodies require.

The remaining eight amino acids that are contained in beans are lysine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, threonine, and tryptophan.

It is for this reason that the combination of rice and beans is an important survival food and that humans can be sustained by it for long periods of time.

Why Rice Is A Good Survival Food

Brown rice is the whole grain, unprocessed version of rice and such it contains more vitamins and health benefits than white rice, including the higher fiber content that is required by our digestive system.

Rice is considered to be a good natural source of vitamin B, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Vitamin B is important for brain function, cell metabolism, and energy. It also helps our bodies to fight off infection and promotes healthy blood cells.

Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and carbohydrates, while magnesium is important for bone, muscle, and nerve health and helps in healing any of the problems in these areas of our bodies.

Another benefit of rice is its carbohydrate content, which is a great energy source for our bodies. The carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which gives our bodies a good energy hit!

However, for this reason, rice needs to be eaten with caution if you are diabetic; it can cause a spike in your glucose levels. The good news is that beans actually reduce blood sugar, which will help to counteract the glucose spike.

Rice is one of the grains that does not contain gluten, so it is safe for people with gluten intolerance. It also contains zero fat, reduces the risk of heart disease, and promotes a healthy colon.

Rice provides a good core for a meal, and it has many health benefits that make it an important component of a survival meal.

Why Beans Are A Good Survival Food

Beans have been part of mankind’s diet for centuries, and in times when meat is scarce or expensive, beans make a good substitute for daily protein needs.

Apart from being a great source for the protein amino acids, beans are a good source of fiber and also slow down the digestive process, making you feel full for longer, and they also help reduce constipation.

As we have already mentioned, beans assist in reducing blood sugar content and help to reduce heart disease, and helps with blood pressure regulation.

Beans, like rice, are a good source of vitamin B and iron. The iron is good for blood-health, while the B vitamins help the body to convert food to energy more efficiently.

Other Survival Benefits Or Rice And Beans

In their dry forms, rice and beans can be stored for long periods of time as long as they are shielded from moisture or high humidity conditions. They are relatively lightweight and easily transported.

In their dried form, a little goes a long way. Dry rice and beans absorb moisture and swell when cooked in water, expanding in volume by several times. This makes for a robust meal that makes you feel satisfied for longer.

Dry brown rice can be stored between six months to a year, while white rice in its dry, uncooked form can store well for up to 10 years! Dry beans can potentially be stored for several years before they are not good to eat.

A rice and beans meal does not need to be boring! An advantage of rice is that it absorbs flavors very well and as a result, flavors can be added to the meal in the way of wild herbs that can change the flavor profile of the rice and beans dish to relieve the boredom of the same dish day in and day out!

What About Vegetables?

Many people would be concerned that in a diet that consists of beans and rice, there would be a lack of vitamin C intake, which could result in diseases such as scurvy and also limit the intake of the iron available in the beans.

While this is true, the necessary vitamin C can be accessed by foraging for wild edibles such as wild sorrel, which is rich in vitamin C. Pine needles are also rich in vitamin C and can be boiled to make a pleasant tea which can be a good accompaniment to your rice and beans meal!

Knowing the wild edible plants in your area would be knowledge that can help enhance the flavor and nutritional value of a rice and beans meal.

How Much Rice And Beans Do You Need To Survive

According to the general consensus, most people need about 1200 calories per day to live. A cup of dry beans contains about 630 calories and a cup of dry rice, about 660 calories, which makes a total of 1290 calories in this meal.

If you ate two meals or a cup of beans and a cup of rice per day, you would be taking in a total of 2580 calories, which would be more than sufficient for an active lifestyle.

There are about 2.5 cups of dry rice in 1 pound of rice and 2 cups of dry beans in 1 pound of beans. Your daily requirement would, therefore, be about 1 pound of rice per day and 1 pound of beans per day.

Using these numbers, if you had a 30-pound bag of rice and a 30-pound bag of dry beans, you could survive for about a month on this amount of food!


While most of us would not relish the thought of eating beans and rice every day, it is certainly possible to survive on beans and rice alone, especially if you can supplement the meal with some foraged wild greens.

The nutritional value of these foods, in conjunction with their long shelf life, makes them a favorite option for preppers and homesteaders alike!

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