21 Budget-Friendly Recipes Starring Rice

21 Budget-Friendly Recipes Starring Rice

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Ariel Knutson
Sep 13, 2016
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

It's easy to create a budget-friendly meal when you have a bag of rice on hand. Between the type of rice (white, brown, jasmine, etc.) and how you cook it (in a rice cooker, on the stovetop, or in the oven), you have a lot of options to play around with.

It's also hard to get bored when there are so many budget-friendly ways to top a bowl of rice. A simple protein, a vegetable, and an unusual sauce is all you need for a great meal, but there are even more ways to get creative. Here are 21 recipes starring rice to get excited about.

(Image credit: The Woks of Life )

1. Spicy Cauliflower Stir-Fry

The three main ingredients in this recipe are cauliflower, onion, and rice. It does require a few pantry ingredients like sesame oil, rice wine, and soy sauce, but it's worth stocking up on these for other stir-fry recipes, as they'll last a long time.

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

2. Brown Rice Bowl with Lentils, Caramelized Onions & Fried Egg

I think the definition of a good budget meal is a recipe that has hearty grains and some protein. This recipe does exactly that with the rice, lentils, and egg. Harissa — or any hot sauce — is a welcome addition.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

3. How To Make Congee

This is an everyday breakfast staple in China and in many parts of the world. The concept in its basic form takes rice and broth and toppings to create a silky porridge.

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

4. "Low-Rent" Tuna Poke Bowl

Upgrade your can of tuna by pairing it with a little rice, sauce, sesame seeds, and avocado. Avocado certainly isn't cheap, but the rest of the ingredients are very budget-friendly.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

5. Freezer-Friendly Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice

Fill your freezer this winter with delicious homemade burritos. This version combines rice, black beans, and vegetables.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

6. Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

This recipe uses wild rice, brown rice, and vegetables as a base. The whole thing is topped with bone-in chicken thighs before being frozen for later consumption.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

7. Red Jambalaya Fried Rice

Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice. This recipe elevates that idea with a playful twist on jambalaya.

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

8. Bacon and Kimchi Fried Rice Frittata

I'm pretty obsessed with the idea of this frittata. It uses basic kitchen staples like rice and eggs and upgrades them with bacon and kimchi. You can even make your own kimchi if you're up to it.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

9. Laurie Colwin's Lemon Rice Pudding

Need a cheap dessert to feed a crowd? This recipe calls for rice, dairy, and lemon. You can play around with it a bunch, by either using Meyer lemons or regular lemons, and using half-and-half instead of cream. It's totally up to you and what you have around.

10. Brown Rice Bowl with Chard & Nutty Tomato Romesco Sauce

This is a great option for a cheap lunch. Top cooked brown rice with whatever greens you have on hand — we use Swiss chard here — and then a homemade romesco sauce.

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

11. Chicken Rice Bowls with Honey-Mustard Sauce

A meal consisting of chicken, rice, and vegetables isn't anything new, but the addition of this honey-mustard sauce really brings the whole dish to life. When in doubt, make a special sauce for cheap meals.

(Image credit: The Woks of Life )

12. Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

This recipe combines one protein, one kind of rice, and one vegetable. But don't be fooled! There are a lot of little additions that make this recipe special.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

13. One-Pan BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls

Skip the line at Chipotle and make your own burrito bowls instead. I love that this one includes BBQ chicken. Again, avocado is more of a luxury ingredient, and it's not necessary as a topping.

(Image credit: Karla Conrad)

14. Potato Risotto

This recipe is intended to be made in a pressure cooker. It's a simple, hearty meal that will warm you up in the winter.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

15. Vegan Stir-Fried Garlic Tofu and Eggplant

I've been making this recipe about once a week for the last few months. After you've fried the tofu, the whole things comes together very quickly if you have a wok.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

16. Watermelon Curry

The most expensive ingredient in this recipe is the watermelon (everything else is pantry basics). This might sound a little strange as a recipe, but trust me — it's delicious. It's best hot right off the stove.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

17. How To Stir-Fry Chicken and Cashews

The cashews in this dish really make this recipe for me. The texture addition is just so good and a little surprising if you're new to making meals in the wok.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

18. Rice Pudding in a Mug

Need a cheap dessert for one? Pull out your bag of rice and a mug! This recipe is pretty basic, so feel free to play around with it until you find what you love.

(Image credit: The Woks of Life )

19. Quick and Easy Basil Beef

Basil and beef are a perfect match. If you have yet to experience this relationship, now is the time to do it with the help of this recipe.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

20. Cheesy Tex-Mex Rice

The most important ingredient in this recipe might be cheese (duh), but there's a whole lot of cheap ingredients that bolster the cheese to make this possible. Put your cast iron skillet to work!

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

21. Korean Curry Rice

This hearty curry will keep you warm during the colder months. It's filled with beef, vegetables, and kimchi.

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