Ultimately I decided on rice and pasta because just about everyone eats some sort of rice or pasta. Produce and nuts can be gleaned in the wild if needed but you're not going to find macaroni growing on a bush. Nutrition-wise I probably should have gone with dried beans but opted not to for two reasons:
1. The price per pound is much higher (rice and pasta run about 50-75 cents per pound - beans are running $1-1.50/lb)
2. Beans by themselves are not particularly versatile.
The reasons I did chose rice and pasta were - they're quick and easy to prepare, fills you up, and (as I said before) costs about half what beans do so you're getting more bang for your buck.
For a years supply you should estimate 60 pounds of pasta and 40 pounds of rice. Brown rice does not store as long as white but it's better for you. If you don't use it at all now consider buying a pound or two and experimenting with it. Otherwise you should stick with the white rice even though it's not as nutrient dense as brown. Don't be afraid of whole rice if you're used to 'quick' or 'minute' rice. The only difference is patience and a little practice. Bulk rice takes alot longer to cook and requires more water, it also won't store as long once it's been cooked. We've only been using it for less than a year and I've been able to perfect my method in the microwave but still haven't mastered stove-top cooking yet.
So here's this weeks 'cup' (remember I'm aiming for about $15-20/week; you may have slightly more or less depending on the habit you're taming)
- 5 -10 pounds of bulk pasta - if you buy it in one pound packages it's going to cost you $1/lb unless you hit a really good sale. If you buy it in 3-5 lb packages you'll save 25-40%. Right now our local Hannaford's has 5# bags of macaroni, spaghetti, and tri-color rotini for $2.99 each.
- 10-20# of bulk rice - again, smaller packages will cost more. If memory serves me correctly this is also running 50-75 cents per pound but check your local stores to be sure. Don't forget to check the international foods section as they generally have very large bags of rice at pretty reasonable prices.