If you haven’t been introduced to the idea of batch cooking yet, you are going to love it! The idea is that you make things in large batches portion them out into amounts that you would use for a meal and then store them for future use. I’ve been doing this for a long time not knowing that it had a name. I’ve mostly done it for meat because who wants to have to thaw and brown ground beef every single time a meal calls for it? Why not just do the work once?
Sometimes though you just need guidelines on how to do something. No one wants to waste food and hard work so making sure you are doing it right is ideal. I’ll be sharing a series of posts about batch cooking to help everyone out. Each post will focus on just one food item. It will include directions on making and storing the food, and ideas for recipes to use them in. With this method I’ve cut my dinner prep time in half and that is awesome!
When I mention that I do this, a lot of people ask me if I set aside a day to make a ton of food. NOPE! I like cooking, but not when I feel like I have to, or when I know I am going to be doing it all day. If I tell myself I am going to cook all day, I find literally anything else to spend my time doing and nothing gets done. Usually I batch an item as I run out of it and need it for a meal. So if I am planning on having tacos for dinner tonight and I go to the freezer and find that I am out of prepped taco meat, I pull out 3-4 pounds of ground beef, thaw it, cook it, use it in our meal for that night, then prep and store the rest for a future meal. It’s a lot more manageable for me that way, but I am also a work at home parent, so I am at home to take frozen meat out of the freezer and thaw it. (Rule of thumb for me, know what we are having for dinner and make sure all ingredients are available by 10 am. It just makes my life better!) If doing a ton of prep in one day is the only way that you have time to do it, go for it!
So onto more specifics. Rice. Cooked rice freezes incredibly well, making it a prime candidate for batch cooking. It is also something I’ve noticed will stop me from making a meal. I have a rice cooker, I hate getting it out, I hate cleaning it. I also hate making rice in a pan, it takes so long! And I am too cheap to spend the extra money on minute rice. I’m probably just incredibly lazy, but lazy people are the ones you want to talk to when you want to save time!
Plain rice is a stable in a ton of meals. So make the rice as you usually would but triple or quadruple it. Make sure your pan, rice cooker or whatever is big enough to do that. If it isn’t make a couple sets. Once the rice cools separate it into meal portions. We have a family of 4 (my kids are older and for the most part eat adult portions) I’ve noticed that about 2 cups of cooked rice is about right for a portion size. I put mine in freezer containers and use a dry erase marker to label it. When you are ready to use the rice, remove it from the freezer and let thaw on the counter. If you don’t have time for it to thaw that way, you can put it in a glass dish with a lid and thaw it in the microwave. Add about a teaspoon of water to the rice before thawing, it lost moisture as it was cooling when you first cooked it so you have to add some back in, especially if using the microwave to thaw.
Ideas for use:
Stir Fry-Just use your favorite.
Marinated Chicken and Rice-One I don’t really have a recipe for. Sometimes I’ll find a marinade that looks interesting online or I’ll just be super lazy and marinade the chicken in a balsamic vinegar dressing or Italian dressing and serve it over rice.
Chicken Fried Rice or Beef Fried Rice
Rice Pudding (my husband’s favorite)
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole-I don’t really follow a recipe for this, I’m sure there are some out there, but I pretty much just throw cooked chopped chicken, frozen broccoli, a can of cream of chicken and about 1/3 cup milk all together, mix it up, put it in a casserole dish, top with shredded cheese and then cook until heated through.
Rice Bowls: There are so many ways to do a rice bowl, we just throw in what we have, but our favorites have been BLT Rice Bowls (Rice topped with bacon, tomatoes, chopped lettuce, some avocado and a soft boiled egg) and Greek Rice Bowl (Chicken, feta cheese, diced cucumbers, chopped olives, chopped tomatoes and Tzatziki sauce)
Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup (post with this recipe coming soon! I thought I already had it on here since we eat it so often)
Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash (My fall favorite, my six year old could live without it, but I’m the cook!)
FYI any of these meals are perfect for using up leftover rice too!
If I am already getting the rice cooker dirty I generally make a triple batch of this as well. We have it in our tacos, we have it as the base of burrito bowls, we eat it with enchiladas, taquitos, nachos, and any other similar dish you could think of. Cilantro lime rice just makes everything better. Storing and freezing it is the same as for plain rice. Bonus! if you are on a budget, adding rice to your taco or burrito is really budget friendly, it’s filling and usually you don’t add as much meat.
There you have it, you just cut 18-20 minutes off of your meal prep time for the next time you have a meal that calls for rice. You deserve that extra time, use it for something awesome!