Rice: a healthy and versatile pantry staple

Last Updated on March 17, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster

I try to keep my pantry stocked with a number of basic ingredients so that when it comes time for dinner I don’t have to think too hard to create a healthy meal.  If I stocked my pantry with a lot of processed foods it would be too easy to fall back on these unhealthy choices when I am in a hurry…which is just about every night of the week!  Rice is one of those pantry items that I try to never run out of and I have multiple varieties to choose from, depending on how much time I have and what I plan to do with it.  From dirty rice with leftover ground sausage and Asian stirfries  to rice pudding  and creamy baked rice there are so many possibilities when it comes to serving it!  Here are a few things to consider when you are planning your next rice dish:

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baked rice

Rice:  A versatile pantry staple

1. You can cook rice in water, stock, milk, or broth to enhance its flavor during cooking.

2. Should you wash your rice prior to cooking?  That is a personal preference…usually unnecessary but may help wash away excess starch and produce a ‘fluffier’ end product.

3.  Cook the rice until it is al dente.  There is nothing more unappetizing than mushy rice!

4.  Do not add salt to the cooking water or stir while the rice is cooking or you may end up with a mushy mess!

5.  Rice needs a lot of cooking space so make sure to use a fairly large pot.

6.  Remove the rice from the pan as soon as it is done or it can continue cooking and get too soft.

7.  Not sure how much to cook?  One cup of dry rice grains  is enough to accompany a meal for 2 adults.

8.  As soon as you remove the rice from the pan, pour some water into it to make the pot easier to clean.

9. There are a number of ways to actually cook your rice:  boiling, toasting in a pan, baked  in the oven, placed in a steamer or pressure cooker, or in a specialty rice cooker.  Play around with which method works best for you.

10.  There are  140 thousand types of rice in the world but only 19 that are commonly cultivated for food.  The most common varieties are white rice, brown rice, yellow rice, and black rice.  Check out some of the international markets in your area to find some of the more obscure varieties.


Rice is a great source of energy and is amazingly healthy.  High in fiber and rich in an assortment of vitamins and minerals it is a great way to improve your diet.  It is cholesterol free and low in sodium so people suffering from high blood pressure or high cholesterol might want to consider ways to include it in their next meal!  The nutrient profiles of darker rice varieties like wild rice or red rice is totally different than traditional white rice varieties so include as many different rice varieties as you can find into your diet.  You might be amazed at the flavor differences as well!  For a rice with a long cooking time (brown rice, etc) consider cooking it the night before or putting it into a crock pot.

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  1. Rice is definitely a staple around our house. I pre-cook and freeze it in individual portions :)
  2. My toddler would eat rice for every meal if I let him! He likes when I use chicken broth instead of water in it. I've been chopping very tiny pieces of chicken in with his rice to get him to eat it chicken. I have a review on making rice with an electric pressure cooker. It is so awesome. On my page if you are interested in reading it!
  3. We use a lot of rice. It's inexpensive & gluten free!
  4. I use a lot of rice too. I like the inexpensive option and the many ways it can be prepared. I didn't realize it could be toasted. Does it have to be toasted after it is cooked?
    • I think they meant in dishes like risotto when you put uncooked rice on the stovetop in a saute pan and toast til you start to notice an aroma and then add the liquid. It is supposed to change the flavor and consistency somewhat
  5. Rice is a staple in our pantry also. I use a 1 part rice to about 1 1/2 cups water and it comes out darn near perfect every single time. What's rice to water ratio do you generally use?
  6. my son is all about the rice- we use a lot of it here
  7. I use a whole variety of rice for our family - it's one of the many grains that are gluten free, so we probably eat rice in our meal at least twice a week!
  8. Wouldn't you know, I just finished eating a rice casserole for dinner! :D
  9. I love rice, but it just never comes out the same way twice for me...Maybe I've been cooking it too long? Thanks for the advice! :)
  10. We use rice all the time and have a healthy supply of it to always fall back on. You can do so much with rice.
  11. my husband isn't the biggest fan of rice but I have started including it in several meals here lately. It's great for our daughter who can't have so many other things due to allergies and she really seems to like it. Thanks for all the helpful tips :)

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