Brown Rice: A Healthy Way to Stretch the Grocery Budget
Are you looking for a way to stretch out the food you have and feed your family on less money? Then you need to look at the foods that are inexpensive in quantity, filling, easy to work with but most of all they have to be healthy alternatives your body can use. They must help to provide vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and other valuable nutrients.
One excellent food is rice. But not just any rice.. it has to be brown rice if you are concerned about health. Rice is easy to cook, mild in flavor and adds greatly to nutritional value. Brown rice is loaded with B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, selenium, fiber, essential fatty acids and a small amount of protein as well. White rice on the other hand has had up to 90% of the B vitamins removed along with most of the fiber, essential fatty acids and minerals. What little is thrown back in to enrich does not equal anywhere near what has been taken out. White rice is basically a filler food with practically no nutritional value.
If you have never cooked brown rice you need to know a few things. It takes a little longer to cook than white rice. If you want your rice to be more nutritional and bit more tender then soak your rice in water with a little bit of yogurt added before cooking. If you want more information about how and why to soak brown rice you can find it here along with information on how to cook brown rice. Or you can find my basic brown rice cooking instructions here.
Ways to Use brown Rice
I use it to stretch a casserole dish out. You can use a small amount of meat along with cooked brown rice and spices for flavor and have a delicious nutritional meal for your family. One of my favorites is Mexican Hamburger Rice Bake.
You can cook up a large pot of rice and store it in the fridge for several days. It can be reheated easily. If you won’t eat up all the rice you cooked you can freeze it in meal size portions. Rice freezes beautifully.
How I use leftover rice:
Scramble an egg, add a little extra butter and a small amount of cold cooked rice. Fry until the rice is heated up and brown. Serve in a whole wheat tortilla with salsa or on its own with a piece of whole wheat toast on the side. This makes a yummy breakfast.
Heat up my cast iron frying pan with a little olive oil, add some brown rice and fry. Add salsa and serve in a whole wheat tortilla with fresh veggies and a dollop of yogurt and extra salsa.
You can do the same type of mixture and put it on half of a corn tortilla, fold the tortilla in half and fry it on the stove to make quesadillas. Cheese is optional.
Rice can also be used as a filling for enchiladas. Mix your leftover rice with a little meat, cheese and some salsa. Roll it up in a tortilla and put them in a pan to bake. Cover with enchilada sauce and a little cheese.
Use in soups. Chicken and rice, beef and rice, or bean and rice.. the options are endless! If you need some assistance on making soup without a recipe you can find that here.
Stir Fry is a great use for leftover rice and fresh or frozen veggies. I usually start by sautéing an onion in olive oil and then adding whatever veggies I may have on hand, mushrooms, grated carrot (I grate it to cook quicker), peppers, bits of broccoli, etc. Also frozen veggies can be added. When they are done cooking I remove them from the frying pan and cook up my meat. The meat could be bits of leftover chicken, pork or beef from the night before or you could go meatless too. After this has cooked I add the meat to the cooked veggies. Finally I add my cold cooked rice (being cold is important to make sure it does not get sticky and gummy) to the frying pan. I sauté this in olive oil until brown and add some soy sauce to taste. My family enjoys adding Yoshida’s sauce too which can be found in most grocery stores. But it you don’t have that simply adding soy sauce to taste will do the trick.
Rice patties are easy to make. They are a lot like bean patties or any meatless type of patty. You can add tuna or salmon to them and serve them as a main course or add the veggies and use them like you would a hamburger patty or serve them as is with a little sour cream or yogurt and a nice garden salad.
Brown Rice Patties
3 cups leftover brown rice
1 cup grated carrots or zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 t minced garlic
1 t salt
½ t pepper
½ cup whole wheat flour
Olive oil for frying
Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. The mixture should not be too dry or too wet. If the patties don’t hold together because they are too dry then add another egg. If they are soupy add a little more flour.
Heat a frying pan or griddle until hot and add olive oil. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop out the rice mixture and gently lay them on the frying pan. Use the back side of the measuring cup to flatten out each patty.
If you want to turn them into salmon or tuna patties omit the grated veggies and a can of salmon or tuna.
Brown rice combined with beans makes a protein, vitamin and mineral packed meal that can’t be beat! Here are a few of my rice and bean combo recipes:
Red Beans and Rice
Lentil and Brown Rice Taco Filling
Red Bean and Sausage Soup
Mexican Chicken over Brown Rice
Brown rice can also be covered with many types of gravies or sauces such as:
Chicken, beef or hamburger gravy You can sub any type of meat for the chicken in this recipe
I hope that helps you with ideas on how to incorporate more brown rice into your menu and help you stretch your grocery dollars during these financially difficult times.
The Homestead Kitchen
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