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By the Author of Three Miles and The Flat Broke Cookbook
One of the thriftiest additions to stretch a meal (or to use as the basis of one) is the ever-so-humble rice. It’s a primary ingredient in exotic cuisines around the world, from Latin America to Europe to Asia. Depending on how you spice it up, it can be a tasty addition to a wide variety of entrees.
Even with the rampant inflation that we’re experiencing right now, you can still get a pound of white rice for approximately 92 cents and brown rice for about $2.75. For reference, you can get 7-8 one-cup servings per pound of rice. That’s a lot of rice bang for your rice buck!
Some people find rice to be challenging to get just right. If that’s you, look no further. The solutions to your rice-making problems are here! These recipes are for the regular, cheap white rice you get in big bags at the store.
How to Cook Rice on the Stove Top
Rice on the stove top requires a teeny bit of attention, and this is where people often go wrong. I know that I have forgotten I had rice on the stove before, and the resulting smoke in the kitchen when it burned to the bottom of my pot was less than pleasant.
Here’s how you do it.
- 2 cups of white rice
- 3 cups of water
Bring your rice to a boil on the stove top, then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on and set your timer for 13 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, leave the lid on, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and serve.
How to Cook Rice in the Oven
This is my all-time favorite way to cook rice. I do this when I’m baking or roasting something else in the oven, even if I’m not serving rice with that particular meal. It’s completely hands-off.
- 2 cups of white rice
- 3 cups of water
Bring your water to a boil on the stove top. Meanwhile, put rice into an oven-safe dish that is big enough to hold the water. Stir the boiling water into your rice, put the lid on your dish (or cover it with foil if you don’t have a lid for your dish), and pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. (Note: After you’ve done this a couple of times, you’ll be more comfortable baking it at different temperatures to go along with whatever you’re baking.) When your thirty minutes are up, pull the dish from the oven and let it sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving.
How to Cook Rice in the Crockpot
This is another completely hands-off way to cook rice. It does take longer, but if you’re planning ahead, you can pop it into the slow cooker and forget about it until dinnertime.
2 cups of rice
4 cups of water
Either spray the inside of your pot with nonstick spray or rub it with butter or cooking oil. Otherwise, your rice WILL stick. (Ask me how I know.) Add your rice and water, then cook it on high for about 2 hours. Give it a stir at the two-hour mark and taste-test it to make sure it’s tender. If not, give it another half hour, adding water if needed.
How to Cook Rice in the Microwave
Once, when we were about to move, we didn’t want to drop a thousand dollars to refill our propane tank. That meant we went three weeks without a working stove. My daughter cooked rice in the microwave during that time. It’s easy but not any quicker than the stove top method.
- 1 cup of rice
- 2 cups of water
Bring your water to a boil in the kettle or use the microwave. Add the boiling water to a microwave-safe bowl and stir in the rice. Microwave it on high for 12 minutes with no lid, then top it with a lid and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Variations: The Fun Part of Cooking Rice
Now we get to the fun part – variations on basic rice. Below are several different ways to jazz up your rice.
- Toast the rice in cooking oil on the stove top before cooking it.
- Switch out the beef, chicken, or vegetable broth for the water.
- Add half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables at the end of your cooking time.
- Season it with your favorite spice blend.
- Add a bouillon cube to the cooking liquid.
- Switch out the cooking liquid for coconut milk.
- Add garlic powder and parsley.
- Stir in some butter.
- Top it with finely shredded cheese.
- Indian Rice: Cook it with a cinnamon stick, 4-6 cloves, and some garlic powder. Remove the cinnamon and cloves before serving.
How to Stretch a Meal with Rice
Here are some ways you can use cooked rice to stretch a meal.
- Replace pasta with rice for a thrifty twist on sauce-y meals.
- Serve leftover chili on a bed of rice to make it go further.
- Make fried rice with protein leftovers, veggies, and a couple of eggs.
- Stir it into a small serving of soup to turn it into a casserole.
- Add milk, fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey to make a tasty breakfast porridge.
- Top it with leftover gravy.
- Add cooked beans and spice it up with your favorite flavors.
- Add it to the filling of stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls.
- Prep protein bowls with rice as a base.
- Add tomato sauce and Mexican seasonings.
What about you?
How do you like to cook rice? Do you have any favorite variations or ways to stretch a meal using rice? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media, and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.