Food & Cooking Blog

Simple Solutions: How To Freeze Rice + Other Cooked Grains

If your schedule is anything like mine you don’t always have unlimited time to prepare weeknight dinners. Heck, even 30 minutes is pushing it some days. While it’s easy to grab convenience items at the grocery store or order takeout that is typically neither helpful for your wallet or your waistline.

So, today I have a few tricks to help make your weeknight dinner making easier. I’m going to show you how to freeze rice and other healthy cooked grains, so you always have a hearty side ready to heat and eat. This will help you save time and money and provide you with healthy options to snag straight from your freezer.

Raw Quinoa

Photos via Edible Perspective

Learn how to freeze cooked rice and more for simple on hand ingredients that easily bring together your weeknight dinners!

While you’ll still have to cook these grains on the stove, you can do it at whatever time is convenient with your schedule. Maybe you have more free time late at night, first thing in the morning or on weekends. Whenever you can fit it in, I suggest making a few batches at a time using different grains, so you have a nice variety. There isn’t much hands on time, and you’ll be so happy when your freezer is stocked with grains that are ready to go!

Raw Millet
For today’s how-to, I’ve prepared three different grains that work extremely well for this process. Short grain brown rice is one of my very favorite grains. You can easily fancy it up with a fried rice recipe or just add a little butter and salt and call it a day. I could eat brown rice every day without growing tired of it. The chewy texture gets me every dang time. 

Cooked Brown Rice

The process is simple. First you’ll cook the rice (or other grain) then spread it in an even layer on a large baking sheet. After a quick hour or two in the freezer you’ll be ready to break it apart and stuff it into a freezer bag.

Below is the brown rice after freezing on the baking sheet and breaking it up to go into the bag.

Frozen Brown Rice

Here you see red quinoa and millet ready for freezing. When you freeze the cooked grains on the baking sheet  it really helps to avoid clumping and freezer burn. I highly recommend this method over placing the grain straight from your pot into a freezer bag. You’ll be able to portion out as much as you want from each bag since it won’t all be stuck together.

Frozen Quinoa and Millet

The grains will stay good in your freezer for 4-6 months and are very quick to reheat. You can thaw in the fridge the night before or leave on the counter for an hour and then quickly reheat in a pot or using the microwave. Then, simply add it to whatever meal you’re cooking or use it as a simple side dish.

You can even reheat the grains to use for breakfast porridge. I love adding milk to brown rice with a bit of cinnamon and heating on the stove-top until thickened for a quick brown rice pudding.

Also! You can definitely reuse your freezer bags. Just rinse them with hot soapy water, let them dry, and the fill them back up!

Frozen Grains

How to cook and freeze short grain brown rice, millet and quinoa

Yields: approximately 6-8 cups & servings for each 

Short grain brown rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups water

Step 1:

Place Brown Rice in a medium-large sized pot with the water and oil. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 2:

Once boiling, stir once then reduce heat to low (constant low simmer) and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 50 minutes (without stirring). Check to make sure the water has all absorbed (tilt the pot) then quickly cover and place on a cool burner for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Step 3:

Spread the brown rice on 1-2 large rimmed cookie sheets and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Step 4:

Place on a flat shelf in your freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours.

Step 5:

Remove from the freezer and break up into freezer bags into desired serving sizes. Mark the contents and date on the bag, squeeze the air out, seal, and flatten. Place on a shelf in the freezer.

Step 6:

To reheat: Thaw in the fridge the night before (optional) and heat a bit of oil in a pan or pot over medium heat then add the grain with a splash of water and heat through. Or, place in a bowl with a few splashes of water and heat in the microwave (covered) until hot. Season and serve or incorporate into a recipe.

Millet

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups millet
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups water

Step 1:

Place millet in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly. Drain the millet then place in a medium-large sized pot with the water and oil. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 2:

Once boiling, stir once then reduce heat to low (constant low simmer) and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for about 18-22 minutes (without stirring) until water has fully absorbed. Check to make sure the water has all absorbed (tilt the pot) then quickly cover and place on a cool burner for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Step 3:

Follow steps 3-6 above for freezing and reheating millet.

Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Step 1:

Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly. Drain the quinoa then place in a medium-large sized pot with the water and oil. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 2:

Once boiling, stir once then reduce heat to low (constant low simmer) and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for about 15-18 minutes (without stirring) until water has fully absorbed. Check to make sure the water has all absorbed (tilt the pot) then quickly cover and place on a cool burner for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Step 3:

Follow steps 3-6 above for freezing and reheating quinoa.

Cooking tips:

If you want to use grains for breakfast try using half milk and half water. Nut milks work great! If you want the grains more savory use half vegetable stock (or stock of choice) and water.

Frozen Millet

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What are your time-saving tricks to make dinner easy during the week?

One Comment

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This is such a great tip! I never thought of doing this, but I eat rice all the time. And having food prepared before I get home from work increases the likelihood of a non-ice-cream based dinner by about 200%. I’ll definitely be using this recipe/guide!

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