A traditional serving of rice on an adult plate is 1/2 cup of cooked grains, so 2 cups should be plenty for 4 people.
However, that generally refers to a side of rice; if you’re going to use rice as a primary food, such as fried rice, you’ll want more.
Brown Vs. White Rice
Brown rice doubles when cooked, from 1 cup dry to 2 cups cooked. As a general rule, brown rice is a bit more flavorful. It has a nuttiness to the flavor and leans toward savory flavors.
Brown rice can be cooked in garlic or meat stocks for even more flavor.
White rice generally triples in volume, so 1 cup dry equals 3 cups cooked. White rice tends to have a milder flavor and works very well with sugars.
For example, you can add dried fruits, some cinnamon, and a bit of rice milk to cooked white rice and make a delicious dessert or sweet breakfast treat.
Rice Is A Budget-Friendly Food!
One of the nicest things about rice is that it’s very cheap. If you try something and it’s not edible, you’re not out much.
As long as you keep an eye on it and turn it down when it comes to a boil, rice is pretty easy to prepare.
Rice also makes a good leftover. You can even freeze it, as long as you spread it thin and allow it to cool first.
A very simple way to keep your food costs low without sacrificing nutrients is to use both rice and beans in various dishes.
For example, you can prepare rice and freeze it in single-serving Ziploc bags. A simple bean stew or chili with beans can be stretched and enhanced with the frozen rice servings.
If you are already packing your lunch in an effort to keep costs down, start your bean stew in a crockpot and use your rice as a cold pack for your lunch.
By the time you’re home, the rice is thawed and the bean stew is cooked.
Side Dish Vs. Primary Base
If you’re serving rice on the side, each diner should be satisfied with 1/2 to 3/4 cups of cooked rice. For those who like to experiment, don’t be afraid to use cold rice for special dishes.
Cold Rice Dishes
For example, cold brown rice is a terrific salad base. Chop up a golden apple, a fresh stalk of celery, and some craisins.
Mix them with your brown rice and a mild oil dressing with a bit of pineapple juice for zing and sweetness.
If you want something a bit more savory, cold brown rice, celery, red onion, and blue cheese make an amazing side salad. Finally, if you love a Waldorf salad, stretch it with cold brown rice.
This will turn a salad treat into a hearty portion and may even make a small standalone meal.
Cold white rice is a wonderful base for sweet fruit salads. Pineapple canned in 100% juice, mandarin oranges, and whipped topping can be blended together for a terrific summer treat.
Hot Rice Options
Rice as a side dish can add elegance to a plate. For example, if you’re serving a piece of grilled salmon or chicken breast, place it on a bed of hot, seasoned rice before you serve it.
Add steamed veggies or a salad and you’ve got a lovely meal.
As noted above, brown rice still includes the germ and offers a nuttier flavor. One of my favorite ways to cook and serve brown rice is to do it in the crockpot.
Warning note: This is not a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Try to do this when you can stay home.
Slow-cooker brown rice needs to be cooked on high. A piece of parchment paper can keep it from drying out and a bit of butter will add plenty of flavor.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, this slow cooker recipe will give you a week’s worth of rice for very little work.
My favorite way to use white rice is to spice it up. As noted above, white rice doesn’t have much flavor alone. However, it will absorb acids well.
Cook your white rice in salted water with a bit of butter or olive oil.
Next, stir it into a hot frying pan with a bit of wok oil. Add chili paste or powdered chili to boost the heat and toss in some small pineapple chunks in their own juice.
Finish up the dish with diced carrots and a few peas. The sweetness from the pineapple and the heat from the chili powder will be delicious against the sweetness of your veggies.
A Word About Sensitivities
Rice is high in carbs and the fiber in brown rice can be hard on your gut if you’re not used to it. Avoid using rice as a “filler” for more nutritious food; even if your tummy is full, you need produce and protein as well as the fiber and carbs from rice.