• Christina Iaboni

Rice: The Ultimate Pantry Staple

Disclaimer: This post was developed in partnership with USA Rice, however, as always, all opinions are genuine.

Like everyone else, I have been trying to keep my freezer, fridge and pantry well stocked and one item I always have on hand is USA Rice. Rice is so versatile and can be used in soups, as a side dish, in skillet meals and as a dessert. Rice also has a long shelf-life; milled rice will keep almost indefinitely if it is stored properly in a tightly closed container and brown rice will keep for about 6 months when kept in a properly closed container.

One of the great things about rice is that it is affordable. I always consider my budget when shopping and given the current economic situation, budget friendly meals are more important than ever. One serving of rice (1/2 cup) is only about 10 cents so it can fit every budget and if you choose brown rice, you are getting an affordable whole grain, nutritious option.

Rice can sometimes be undervalued when it comes to nutrition. Rice is a good source of carbohydrates, which are our bodies’ main source of energy. It also contains vitamins and minerals needed for good health including magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B6.

Magnesium is a mineral many people don’t get enough of. It has many functions in the body including helping with bone, protein and fatty acid formation. It also plays a role in muscle relaxation and lowering blood pressure. Potassium is a mineral also important for blood pressure management as well as heart function and regulating water balance in the body. Vitamin B6 is need for processing amino acids, which are the breakdown product of protein. Vitamin B6 is also needed in making some neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin which are important for our mental health and mood regulation. Whole grain, brown rice is generally higher in vitamins and minerals and fibre than white rice making it a more nutritious option.

It’s Time to Think Rice

Rice can be enjoyed so many different ways:

Rice makes a great side dish for dinner and the leftovers can be repurposed in different ways. I love repurposing leftovers because it changes things up at meal times while saving time in the kitchen. I often make “bowls” for dinner using plain rice, sautéed and seasoned Mexican black beans, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. It makes a great family-friendly dinner since everyone can choose their own toppings. The next day I might use all the same ingredients plus some grated cheese and put them in a whole-grain wrap for lunch or dinner to make a hearty and filling burrito.

Since cooked rice can be refrigerated and stored for 3-5 days (and frozen for up to 6 months), sometimes I will make a large amount of it and then use it to make “fried rice” as a good clean-out the fridge meal to reduce food waste. I basically stir-fry any veggies I need to use up before they go bad with the rice and season with soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Once everything is heated through, I’ll add some eggs to scramble in for protein and voila, a balanced dinner is served.

Rice is also good in soups to help thicken them up or add some starch to help make them more of a complete meal. Sometimes I’ll make vegetable soup and add in rice with the broth and then puree it to provide a creamy texture to the soup.

And you can’t forget about dessert, rice can also be used in sweet dishes. I love rice pudding for an afternoon pick-me-up. Rice pudding is prepared with cooked rice and is mixed with different spices and flavours and cooked in milk, making it a source of calcium as well.

Rice is so versatile and a great, affordable, pantry staple. For more about USA Rice including recipes and how-to videos, check out

Leave a comment below to tell me how you like to use rice.

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