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Fried Rice is a wonderful addition to your weekly meals if you’re looking for cost-effective options. This budget-friendly fried rice was something that I made often when I was paying off my student loans. My food budget was the area of planning where I cut back the most making it easy for me to control. A base of rice, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and ginger are all inexpensive ingredients to build flavor & filling from!
Choosing Budget-Friendly Fried Rice Ingredients
Planning recipes for the week allows you to have versatility with your budget, especially when utilizing recipes with budget-friendly bases like rice. If you cook most meals at home, this is a very truthful statement since you’re able to compare grocery spending each month for the months that follow. Each month you can analyze your spending and slowly chip away at any areas that can be manipulated.
This means that the ingredients in this recipe do not necessarily need to be present but they are what’s suggested for flavor purposes. Keep in mind that freezing ingredients is a great money-saving habit along with a way to reduce food waste.
If meat is not within your budget, you can still receive adequate protein through the use of veggies and eggs. Using broccoli and egg as your main protein ingredients, you’re able to get all of the amino acids necessary. (Amino acids are the building blocks of protein meaning that with all of them present, you receive a complete protein.)
Using “Old” Rice For The Perfect Restaurant-Style Fried Rice
There’s nothing more powerful than being able to stretch a meal when budget is a factor. Fried rice is an ideal example meal to display this. Fried rice is a base to bring all of your veggies together that may be on their way out. Additionally, incorporating rich flavors from toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and Asian sauces, it makes for a delicious meal too.
When making fried rice, it’s essential (in my opinion) to use “old” rice or rice that is one or two days old. At times you can stretch it to even a few additional days. This approach allows for the rice to lose the moisture content and firm up slightly prior to being added back to the pan. When adding freshly cooked rice it still retains a great deal of moisture resulting in a “mushy,” damp meal. Nothing says delicious in that description. In my opinion, there is nothing less satisfying when you’re looking to have a delicious restaurant-style fried rice to be disappointed with a mushy attempt!
In order to get this desired restaurant-style texture & taste, you can speed up the process to be under 1 to 2 days. If you are able to remove your cooked rice and add it to a sheet tray this will help to let it cool faster. Following this, run a spatula between the rice creating slits in it to separate it further allowing it to cool. I like to add around 4 slits for the portion below.
If possible you can even pop the rice into the freezer for a few minutes and then add it to your fridge uncovered for a few hours. This will help to allow air to circulate before adding it to a sealed container. (Do not add HOT rice to a freezer. Allow it to cool slightly prior to adding)
Budget-friendly Fried Rice
- 1-2 tsp ghee, grapeseed, or avocado oil
- 1/4-1/2 cup onion
- 1/4-1 cup celery
- 1/4-1 cup carrots
- 1/2-1 cup broccoli
- 2 cups a few days old rice (I like to use sushi rice)
- 1/4 cup liquid aminos or tamari use liquid aminos if you have MCAS (can add more if needed)
- 1 inch ginger
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- 4-5 scallions
- 1/2-1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice seasoning (brand linked above)
- 2 organic eggs
- 1 cup dark rotisserie chicken meat (optional)
- 1-2 tsp ghee or butter to finish (optional)
- 8 oz snow peas
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ghee, grapeseed or avocado oil (optional)
- 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2-3 tsp liquid aminos
- 1-2 tsp rice seasoning
- Chop your veggies into small dice-sized pieces and reserve. I like to do this one day prior to create a quick and easy meal. (View freezer notes below)
- Turn your stovetop on to high warming your pan.
- Add your ghee or oil of choice and once hot, add in your onions/shallots and carrots to the pan. Keep the heat on high.
- Follow with your celery and cook these ingredients until desired texture is achieved. Next, add in your liquid aminos and combine.
- Follow with your day old rice with the heat still on high. If using broccoli or pre-cooked chicken, add these ingredients in now. Combine all of the ingredients and allow the rice to sit without stirring it. This will allow for a slight char, additional flavor, and texture.
- Read the notes below on the chicken, broccoli, and egg suggestions.
- Next, add in your grated garlic and ginger and combine the rice. Once the garlic is fragrant you can turn off the heat. Follow with sesame seeds, a dollup of butter if desired, scallions, toasted sesame seed oil, and rice seasoning.
- At this point you should taste your rice mixture and see if it needs additional ingredients such as more liquid aminos, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, or rice seasoning. Adjust accordingly to your preference.
- Top with extra scallions or rice seasoning and serve to enjoy!
- If making the snow peas, these will only need to be slightly heated with oil in a sautee pan.
- Have your saute pan on high heat and combine the snow peas with your remaining ingredietns except your sesame oil until a vibrant green coloration is achieved.
- Next, add in your toasted sesame seed oil and serve.
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