If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries but still want to have healthy meals, then this cheap fried rice recipe is exactly what you’re looking for.
This recipe is versatile enough that you can cook a large batch of plain rice and portion it out into many different meals. Veggie fried rice is quick, easy, healthy (depending on oil usage), and flavorful.
Quick & Simple Vegetable Fried Rice Budget Family Meal
Seriously, this dish is so simple it’s difficult to mess up! To make it even faster, you don’t even need to prep veggies.
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Instead, if you prefer, you can simply use frozen vegetables from a bag. It honestly can’t get any easier or less expensive than this.
What Type Of Rice Do You Use For Fried Rice?
Any medium to long grain rice works best. Jasmine rice is the kind that is typically used in Chinese restaurants. This produces fluffy yet sturdy grains that can hold up to being fried without becoming mushy.
What Oil Is Best For Fried Rice?
It is recommended to use either peanut, canola, or sesame oil. All three oils have a smoke point temperature that is high enough for stir-frying.
Canola oil has a neutral flavor while peanut oil tastes slightly nutty. Sesame oil is great to use as a seasoning after cooking since it has a strong flavor.
Preparing The Rice In A Pressure Cooker
Preparing rice in a pressure cooker is one of the easiest methods to get perfectly cooked rice every time. It doesn’t take a lot of watching or tending to so you can prep other ingredients while your rice is cooking.
I mentioned above that I like making my rice in an Instant Pot. If you don’t have one yet, I’d look into getting one if you enjoy one-pot meals. It’s my one kitchen appliance that gets used multiple times a week.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can also prepare the rice via stovetop by the directions on the bag. Make the rice and put it in the fridge to use later.
Instant Pot White Rice Instructions
- Cook 2 cups of dry long-grain white rice or 4 cups if you like lots of leftovers. Measure out your rice and rinse it under cold water for a minute or two.
- Add the rinsed rice to the Instant Pot.
- Add water to the Instant Pot. I use a 1:1 ratio. If you used 2 cups of rice then add 2 cups of water.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the lid vent is turned to Sealed.
- You can use the Rice button if you’d like. Alternatively, use the Manual button set to high pressure for 8 minutes.
- Let it do its thing. After the buzzer goes off, let it sit for 10 minutes before turning the lid valve to Vent. Use a spoon or something long to turn the valve to prevent your hand from getting burnt by steam.
- Scoop rice into a storage container and pop it in the fridge until it’s cooled.
Can You Use Fresh Rice For Fried Rice?
Fried rice recipes recommend using old rice and not freshly cooked. This is due to the higher moisture content of fresh-cooked rice.
If you want to use fresh-cooked rice, then spread it out in an even layer to cool off and evaporate as much moisture as possible before using as fried rice.
Rice that is a day old also is less mushy. The grains have time to firm up so when they are sautéed again, they hold their shape better. I’ve tested both fresh and day-old rice in this recipe and the fresh rice is always slightly mushier.
Making The Vegetable Fried Rice
This veggie fried rice only uses around 5 ingredients and has almost zero prep time. The longest prep is having the rice ready to use but that can be made days in advance.
This recipe is perfect for a quick, healthy, and cheap dinner. All you need to have on hand is some frozen vegetables, tamari sauce, sriracha, and your choice of oil, broth, or water to stir fry.
Heat up the wok on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add either oil, veggie broth, or water along with the frozen vegetables. I use a few tablespoons of peanut oil but if you’re limiting your oil intake then vegetable broth works well.
Add the larger frozen vegetables such as Normandy blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) or stir fry blend. Constantly stir the vegetables for 5 minutes or slightly longer. You want the vegetables to be warmed through but not soggy.
Once the large vegetables are done, add any smaller vegetables such as frozen peas. This is a good time to add bok choy, canned bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or fresh bean sprouts. Add tamari sauce to taste and cook the mixture for another minute or two.
Stir in the rice once the vegetables are done cooking. I used all 4 cups of cooked rice. Use more or less depending on the ration of vegetables to rice you prefer.
Once the rice has been mixed in, remove the wok from the heat. Add any additional tamari and some sriracha sauce. Mix it all together and you’re all done.
If you had the plain rice already prepared, the actual cooking time for this dinner is less than 10 minutes.
The broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables that are high in antioxidants. Carrots are excellent sources of beta-carotene and peas have a surprising amount of protein.
If you’d prefer additional protein then tofu or tempeh would be a great addition.
Dinner Cost Breakdown:
|Organic White Rice (2 cups dry)
|Organic Frozen Normandy Blend (32 oz)
|Organic Frozen Peas (8 oz)
|Sauces (Tamari, Sriracha, Peanut Oil)
Whenever possible we try to eat organic. I buy the store brand organic items if they’re available.
While still more expensive than conventional items, they tend to be a lot less than other brand name organic food.
I also estimated that the amount of sauces I used wouldn’t be more than $1. The total for the meal ends up being $6.32. This makes A LOT of food. We each ate two heaping bowls per meal.
My entire wok was so filled it was difficult to stir. This covered us for two dinners which makes it $3.16 a dinner or $1.58 a person per meal. Not too bad, especially since everything was organic.