Yes, rice can be meal prepped. However, to do so safely, there’s more to the process than just cooking the rice and placing it in a storage container. There are steps that must be taken to ensure that the rice is okay to be consumed at a later date.
Busy professionals and those looking to encourage healthier eating habits often turn to meal prepping as a way to save time, reduce stress, and get the proper nutrition. It’s no secret that rice is a key ingredient in healthy meals leading many people to pose the question “Can you meal prep rice?” Given that most foods can be part of your meal prep if approached correctly, the better question to ask is “How to meal prep rice”.
In this article, we’ll be discussing some tips and tricks on how to safely meal prep rice, how to reheat rice the correct way, and recipes that anyone can try at home.
Tips on how to meal prep rice safely
Meal-prepping dishes featuring rice are a fantastic way to get ready for the week ahead while choosing healthy options. However, cooked rice does expire. That being said, there are things you can do to extend its shelf life and ensure that your meals are safe to consume.
1. Wash your hands and your rice
As with any dish, proper kitchen hygiene is vital to ensuring food safety. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling any cooking materials as well as the tools you’re using. This minimizes the chance of cross-contamination and the transfer of bacteria.
You should also thoroughly rinse the rice before cooking just as you would fruits and vegetables to get rid of any foreign materials such as dirt, debris, and chemicals.
2. Cook the rice thoroughly
Temperature plays an important role in food safety. High heat can kill harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Rice should be cooked until it reaches a minimum of 165 °F throughout. This can be done in a regular pot, a rice cooker, a microwave, or an Instant Pot.
3. Cool it quickly after cooking
The most important part of how to meal prep rice is actually cooling it down after it’s initially cooked. Many experts recommend that the rice be portioned out and placed in a refrigerator or freezer within two hours of cooking.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to cool rice is to spread it out on a plate or baking sheet until cool to the touch.
4. Store the rice appropriately
In order for the rice to remain safe, it’s crucial that you store it correctly. The material that it is stored in will also affect how long it keeps.
Most experts recommend using airtight glass containers and storing them in an environment that has a humidity of about 55% and a temperature no warmer than 40 °F to prevent bacteria growth. More or less humidity can cause the rice to become mushy or completely dry.
5. Reheat it completely before eating
Before eating meal-prepped rice, you must reheat it thoroughly. This ensures that the bacteria that would normally grow at room temperature don’t have the opportunity to develop.
The longer the rice is in storage, the drier it will become. To combat this, add water to the container you are using to reheat the rice.
6. Consume within 5 days
As with any type of food, it will spoil in time. Typically, if stored properly, rice can be consumed up to 5 days after it’s cooked.
That being said, the sooner you eat it, the safer and fresher it will be. If you need to keep rice longer than 5 days, it can be frozen. When freezing rice, use freezer-safe containers and it can be saved up to 3 months.
How to meal prep rice: 3 of the best recipes
There are countless recipes out there that are perfect for meal prep. The key, of course, is finding recipes that are easy to prepare, easy to store, and easy to reheat.
However, it’s difficult to make yourself eat a meal that doesn’t maintain its flavor too! We’ve collected three of the quickest and tastiest meals featuring rice below.
Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice
For this recipe you’ll need:
- 2 lbs. chicken breasts
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 cup teriyaki sauce
- ¼ cup pineapple chunks
- ¼ cup uncured diced ham
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 3 tsp. sesame oil
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- 1 grated garlic clove
- ½ cup diced veggie mix
First, preheat your oven to 350 °F. Using a baking pan or sheet, line it with aluminum foil and place the pounded chicken breast inside. Cover the chicken with half of the teriyaki sauce and bake for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, mix the rice, sesame oil, diced vegetables, onion, pineapple, ham, ginger, and garlic thoroughly. Then, place the mixture aside until the chicken has finished its 15 minutes of cooking.
Finally, spread the rice mixture into the pan alongside the chicken and continue baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the pan from the oven and pour the remaining teriyaki sauce over the chicken before serving or storing.
Instant Pot Fiesta Rice Bowls
For this recipe you’ll need:
- 1 cup long-grain white rice such as basmati rice
- 1 diced red onion
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 1 diced bell pepper
- 1 11oz can corn (drained)
- 1 18oz can black beans (drained)
- 1 4oz can green chilis
- 3 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole, salsa or other toppings to taste
If using an Instant Pot, place all ingredients except for the tomatoes into the pot and stir to combine. Then, add tomatoes on top without mixing. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing before pressure-cooking on high for three minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for around 15 minutes. Finally, stir in a cup of cheese before sprinkling the remainder on top, allowing the cheese to melt before serving with your choice of topping.
Chicken, Rice, and Broccoli
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp brown or granulated sugar
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2–3 cups broccoli florets
Begin by cooking the rice. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil before stirring in the rice. Then, reduce the heat and cover the pan, allowing it to simmer for 15 minutes or until the remaining water is absorbed.
Next, cook the broccoli using your preferred method. One of the most common methods is to place the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl and add 3 tbsp of water. Cover with a ceramic plate or plastic wrap before microwaving on high for 3 minutes.
Then, rub the chicken with your spices plus salt and pepper to taste. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat before adding the chicken to cook for 5–6 minutes on the first side. Next, flip the chicken and cook for another 5–6 minutes. Once fully cooked, remove from heat. Finally, cut the chicken into slices and place it on top of the rice along with the broccoli in even portions across the meal prep containers of your choice.
How do you reheat meal-prepped rice?
To ensure food safety, rice should be reheated until piping hot before consuming. The most common and easiest way of doing this is with a microwave though frying or steaming on a stove works as well.
When reheating in a microwave, you’ll first want to remove the lid of the container and add one to two tablespoons of water per cup of rice. Then place the lid on top of the container without sealing it. A microwave lid also works as the goal is to create space for the steam that will be created. The rice should be microwaved for three to four minutes or until piping hot throughout. Ideally, the rice should return to the 165 °F reached when cooking. It’s important to serve the rice immediately after reheating to prevent bacteria from having the chance to grow.
Is it safe to meal prep rice?
Yes, if prepared correctly. To minimize the risk of foodborne illness, it’s important to cook the rice thoroughly then cool and store it in a fridge or freezer within two hours. When reheating the rice, be sure to warm it completely to avoid bacterial growth.
How many cups of rice for one meal prep?
The amount of rice needed for one meal prep varies depending on the recipe you choose and your personal preferences. There are no set rules for how much or how little rice you use as long as it is properly cooked, stored, and reheated.
Can I meal prep white rice?
Yes, all types of rice may be used for meal prepping as long as the type you choose is prepared correctly. Be sure to follow food safety guidelines to avoid bacterial growth and illness including the correct cooking, storing, and reheating practices.