Meal prepping rice is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re eating nutritious meals by having things cooked and ready to eat!

I love brown rice, but unfortunately, the long cooking time is a deterrent to having healthy meals on the table in a timely manner. Whether it’s in a pot or a pressure cooker, brown rice takes at least 45 minutes to make – minimum.

Years ago, my mother in law showed me some tricks she utilized to have items in the freezer, cooked and ready to use. Mostly, she cooked meat in advance and froze it in quart baggies, flat. This way they are quick and easy to grab out of the freezer for that evening’s meal. I loved that idea and adopted it in my own life to try to make meals faster.

Did you know you could use the freezer for meal prepping rice?

One afternoon I was at a friend’s house and the Schwann man came by to drop off her order. He handed her a bag of frozen brown rice that was over $3.00. Seriously? I pay $3.00 for a huge bag of uncooked rice that would make WAY more than that little frozen bag. But it got my mind working. You could actually freeze rice?

The next time I made my rice, I made a double batch and let the remainder cool in the pot. I packed my trusty quart baggies with the cooled brown rice, flattened them down, and threw it in the freezer. The next time I wanted brown rice, I grabbed my baggie out of the freezer in the morning and placed it on the counter to defrost throughout the day. It worked perfectly!

It’s such a great way to make a super fast meal like my Mongolian Veggie Stir Fry, burrito bowls or a quick fried rice. Having food like this prepped in advance makes it much easier to make the choice to eat at home because you know the meal will come together fast.

Lundberg short grain brown rice for meal prepping
salt for brown rice

What is the best way to cook brown rice for meal prepping rice?

I use two different methods to cook rice. The first and most well known is on the stovetop in a regular pot. The second way, and probably my preferred method is to use a pressure cooker. I use either a 3qt or an 8 qt Instant Pot. The crazy thing is that it does not save a ton of time to use my Instant Pot. The reason I prefer the pressure cooker method is because once I set it, I can completely forget about it. No boiling over onto my stove. No remembering to come back and turn it on to simmer. It’s super easy. Here’s how.

meal prepping brown rice in a pot on a stove

How do I make brown rice on the stovetop:

Instead of using a 2 : 1 water to rice ratio, I always use 1.5 : 1. I feel like this gives me a rice that is less sticky and the grains are more separated. So that means that for every cup of rice I use, I put in 1 1/2 cups of water. This particular day, I used the following measurements:

4c. brown rice

6c. filtered water

2t. salt

Bring to a boil. Put a lid on the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook about 30-45 min, or until all the water is gone and the rice is fluffy.

Instant Pot cooking brown rice for meal prepping

How do I make brown rice in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is unique in the fact that it maintains all the liquid you put into it. You don’t have any evaporation at all. Because of this, you need much less water in this method than in the stovetop version.

For the Instant Pot, I use a 1 : 1 ratio. For every cup of brown rice I put in the instant pot, I use 1 cup of water. I add salt and give it a quick stir. (Recipe below)

I always cook mine for 22 min on high pressure and then quick release it. I cooked the same amount of rice using both methods at the same time. For the stovetop, I used my soup pot. I also used my 8qt Instant Pot, and it finished 6 minutes before the stovetop brown rice. So it did end up being a bit quicker overall.

How to use the freezer for meal prepping brown rice.

I usually plan a meal with rice in it so I can use it that night. Then, I pop the leftovers right into the fridge to cool. I’ve also often left them out on the counter to cool, but I know that’s looked down upon because it leaves the food in the danger zone for bacterial growth for a longer period of time, so I can’t recommend that. Putting it in the fridge until it has cooled is your best option.

Add it to quart freezer bags one it’s cooled. Make sure to squeeze out all the air – that is what makes things taste old and freezer burned! Flatten your bags and label them with the contents and the date. Then freeze them! Because the bags are flattened, they will stack nicely in the freezer and take up less space.

meal prepping brown rice - ready to freeze in quart baggies

How to defrost the rice:

When it’s time to use it, just take it out the night before and put it in the refrigerator. I have also taken it out of the freezer in the morning and left it on the counter. Again, this might be less safe because it is not kept at a consistent temp, but it works well for me.

Another way I’ve done the defrost quickly is to pop the sealed bag of brown rice in a sink full of warm water. This defrosts it the quickest of all my methods. If you had a microwave, you could also use that as an alternative.

How to heat the defrosted rice:

I don’t have a microwave, but if you do, that’s the easiest way to do it! We put the rice into a skillet with a bit of water, cover it with a lid, and heat it on low to medium. This keeps the moisture inside and allows it to not dry out while you’re heating it up.

If you’re making something like fried rice, it makes it super easy because you can cook up the meat and veggies and then add the cold rice to the pan and heat it up all together.

Does this work for white rice too?

Absolutely! I choose brown rice because the hull on the exterior of the rice makes your body work harder to break it down. This takes a lot longer and so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as its white rice counterpart. Additionally, there are lots of nutrients in that brown rice exterior, so it makes the rice more nutritious. However, if you are using white rice, it works the same way for meal prepping rice!

What is your favorite kind of brown rice?

I have a definite favorite type of brown rice! Costco has a 12 lb bag of Lundberg short grain brown rice and it is usually under $15. I like it because it’s short grain so the pieces are short and fluffy and cook up really well and are never sticky! It also freezes well and reheats beautifully.

How to Cook Brown Rice in an Instant Pot

Meal prepping rice is one of the easiest ways to make sure you're eating nutritious meals by having things cooked and ready to eat!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups brown rice
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions
 

  • Combine rice, water, and salt and stir.
  • Make sure your Instant Pot has the ring inside the lid.
  • Put lid on the Instant Pot and set on Manual (or High Pressure) for 22 min.
  • Make sure the valve is set to Sealing.
  • When the time is up, release the steam and remove lid.
  • This makes enough for a meal, as well as having some left over to store in quart baggies in your freezer for future meals.

So that’s it! What types of things do you meal prep to make your life easier?!

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