Creative uses for rice! How to stretch your food budget by using this simple pantry staple in a ton of unique, delicious ways.
When you’re trying to stretch your grocery budget, sometimes you just have to get creative!
Simple, inexpensive ingredients can repurposed, so you don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing over and over…
Today we have a guest post from fellow blogger, Serena! She’s sharing some really creative uses for rice.
I love these ideas, because rice is a really affordable shelf-stable ingredient that’s easy to keep on hand. (Plus, they sound delicious!)
Add a couple of these easy recipes into your meal plan this month. Your grocery budget will thank you!
Take it away, Serena!
5 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Rice
Hello! I am so excited to be here today on Unexpectedly Domestic! I’ve gotten so many great tips from Rebecca and I can’t wait to share some of my own with you!
There used to be some weeks where money was just tight.
The weeks where I hadn’t meal planned yet, and none of the ingredients I had seemed to make a whole meal.
Or the last week of the month, just before payday. When the cupboards are looking a little bare but there is only a small amount of money to get groceries with.
I know you have those weeks too.
Weeks when you’re in a bind. When you don’t have a plan.
You make do with the ingredients that are already in your cupboards and you pray the paycheck comes in on time, or the car repair doesn’t cost as much as you think its going to.
We are blessed to not experience those weeks anymore, and you can too! Or maybe the dishes below can help get you out of a tight spot.
Do you know one thing that I always have in my pantry? A giant bag of rice.
Where I live, a 25-pound bag of rice costs $8-$12 and lasts my family of 4 for 6 months!
I find it to be the cheapest way to buy rice, but if you’re in a tight spot right now, don’t sweat!
Just grab a couple 2 lb bags of brown rice from your local grocery store.
The beautiful thing about rice is that it is so versatile!
Plus, rice is filling, especially if you get brown rice, which has more fiber.
While I’ve only listed 5 ways below to dress up your rice and make a meal out of it, each one is fully customizeable to your preferences!
Some of the suggestions below are ways to incorporate rice into your meal plan.
This way, you can avoid having those tight weeks altogether because your meals have stretched farther.
Other suggestions below are truly for those moments when you truly need a dirt cheap meal to feed your family.
Pick what works for your situation right now!
1. Stretch Your Burrito Filling
My family loves Mexican food.
I make my taco seasoning by the jarful and buy tortillas in double digit quantities–that’s how much we love it. Burritos are a popular dish in this house. We also love burrito bowls!
Many nights, I’ll take shredded chicken, diced onion, diced peppers, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, and salsa, and heat it all in a skillet with some taco seasoning and lime juice.
Sometimes I’ll throw in some diced butternut squash (it’s good, I promise!), or serve it with refried beans or avacado for some variety.
When it’s good and hot, I’ll throw in a few cups of cooked rice from my rice cooker (the Instant Pot is great for this too!).
Don’t have tortillas, or don’t feel like cooking at all?
Throw some chicken into your crockpot with some taco seasoning, and some rice into your rice cooker or Instant Pot.
At dinnertime, shred the chicken, drain and rinse some beans, corn, and anything else you have that sounds good, and set it out for your family to make their own burrito bowls!
Burritos are also great as a meatless meal option because the beans are a great source of protein!
So if you’re grocery shopping for a tight week, make sure you pick up some beans as well.
If you’re not comfortable “just winging it” in the kitchen (which was me too for such a long time!), then check out the recipes below!
You can eat these dishes by themselves or put some into a tortilla to make a burrito.
2. Make a Stir-Fry
Stir-Fry has always been a favorite of mine, even when I was a kid.
As an adult, I love how versatile stir-fry can be! Just chop whatever veggies, steam or saute, and serve over rice with soy sauce or teriyaki.
It doesn’t get any easier than that!
We like to make our stir-fry with carrots, broccoli, sugar-snap peas, green beans, and mushrooms.
But bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and peppers all make great additions as well!
Check out the recipes below to get some ideas for your perfect stir-fry!
- Honey Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry
- Weeknight Chicken Stir-Fry
- Broccoli and Mushroom Stir-Fry
- Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry
3. Make Fried Rice
Stir-fry and fried rice are incredibly similar. Both have meat, veggies, and rice–but there’s one major difference.
While stir-fry is made best with fresh rice, fried rice is the perfect way to turn leftover rice into dinner.
In fact, if you try to make fried rice with freshly made rice, your rice will come out in a gluey mush (ask me how I know!).
Like all rice dishes, fried rice is incredibly versatile.
You can make chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, or turn your leftover holiday ham into Hawaiian fried rice!
Check out the recipes below to give yourself a jumping-off point.
4. Make “Rice Oatmeal”
I love cheap and easy breakfast foods. Wait–rice for breakfast? I couldn’t believe it either!
It started when my son stayed overnight at a friend’s house. He came home and told me that they ate “rice oatmeal” for breakfast.
I don’t think that is the real name for it. In fact, I’m pretty sure no one call it that except our family, but the name stuck.
It’s leftover rice, heated on a stove top with a few splashes of milk.
The dry, leftover rice soaks up the milk and becomes almost creamy. Then I stir in some brown sugar and some cinnamon. You can also stir in raisins or other dried fruit before serving.
The result is a sweet, creamy, delicious hot breakfast cereal that is filling, easy to make, and easy on your budget.
Check out the links below for some ideas on how to customize it for your household!
5. Add Rice to Scrambled Eggs
I have only been recently introduced to this, and I love it!
The basic premise is that you add butter to a sauce pan, add leftover rice (allowing it so soak up the butter), and then scramble eggs.
The butter makes the eggs rich, and the rice makes the eggs filling!
This recipe is also–you guessed it–so versatile!
My favorite way to make it is with diced potato, onion, and bell pepper.
After we eat, I take any leftover, roll them up in tortillas, and freeze as breakfast burritos for another day!
However, you can make plain eggs and rice, add sausage or diced ham and cheese, or add any sauteed vegetable of your choice.
Any which way you do it, just make sure you cook everything else before you add the eggs to the pan!
I’ve added some recipes below for your convenience.
Do you have any other ways that you enjoy rice? Tell me about them in the comments below!
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Be sure to check out these other inexpensive meal ideas: