Repurposing: Brown Rice

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 2, 2010

Brown rice.

It’s my preferred rice.  We have white rice on occasion, usually when I’m running behind and forget to start the brown rice in time to cook (it takes at least 45 minutes to cook.)

But I have found that I only like brown rice “fresh.”  Therefore, I typically don’t make “extra”, unless I’m planning to make rice pudding for breakfast the next morning.  Last week the boys we not feeling well and were not eating their meals with gusto as they normally do.

So I was left with half a saucepan of brown rice. That needed to be repurposed. A fancy word for “Leftover-ized.”

Wait, maybe “leftover-ized” is better?!?

LEFTOVER-IZED: Verb. The art of transforming cold food from a previous meal into a fresh new meal.  Syn. Repurposed.

Think Webster would take it?!?

Anyhoo…leftover brown rice reheated with cooked beans and homemade salsa isn’t half bad!  Served over organic corn chips (the gluten and dairy free version) or rolled up in a tortilla with that little bit of leftover shredded cheese (the be thankful you don’t have food allergies/intolerances version!).

You’d never know the difference!

And I totally added some avocado slices on top. Because I *heart* avocados.

Leftover Beans and Rice Recipe – in “ish” form

2 cups-ish leftover brown rice
2 cups-ish black and red beans
1 cup-ish homemade or store bought salsa
Some cheese
Some chips
A few tortillas
Part of an avocado

Cost $ – What do leftovers really cost?!?  I’ve never been sure of how to calculate the cost of leftovers!  While the food is not free, the cost has been calculated from another meal.  Hmmm…

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

James June 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm

i like leftover-ized i think it has gusto… i really like the ring of it i think you should run with it


Tiffany June 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

This meal looks delish! It’s hard to believe it was $5!


Allison June 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I think leftovers are free. You’ve already reported the cost in another meal. It’s a bonus at that point.

Rice and beans are a perfect combination, I think.


Kelsey June 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I use instant brown rice, generally


Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) June 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I have probably six different kinds of rice in my pantry at any one time. We like brown rice too. I splurged on a rice cooker last year and I have to say it is probably one of the best things I ever bought for my kitchen…perfect rice every time–even brown rice. Great looking meal here–we love this combo too!


Sarah (Frontier Kitchen) June 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Good idea! I will often add leftover brown rice to soup in the place of noodles or beans but this would be a much better option during the summer when you don’t want a big pot simmering all day. :)

Btw, I just happened to post a recipe using brown rice the other day and you could use leftover brown rice to make it too and nobody would ever know. Here’s the link if you’re interested:


Toni June 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I just started making brown & white rice (not instant) I cook a batch of both then separate them into baggies & freeze. When I need them I pull them out, open the bag & throw in the microwave. I don’t need to wait 25-30 mins, for rice.


Alison June 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I found one rice through a very nice Weight Watchers leader that is actually yummy reheated so I thought I would pass that one but it is the Lundberg short grain brown rice. It is one of the organic ones so if you are looking for it in your grocery store, they might not put it with the rice if they put the organic items in another area. I make it ahead of time and measure out the individual bags in bags and put it in the freezer. It is treated a lot like the UIncle Ben’s rice where you cook it for 90 seconds and it is ready to go. The great thing is that you have nice, healthy brown rice without the 45 minute wait so that you can have it with lunch or if you forget (because I always do) to start the rice so much earlier. I love the repurposing/re-leftovering the rice! Thanks for the great recipe.


Queen of the House June 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm

We often use leftover brown rice in soft tacos like you did! Thanks for the reminder! It looks delicious!
Erin, do you use a rice cooker? I think I might be prone to making it more often if I had a rice cooker!
Anyone have an idea on a great (inexpensive) rice cooker to buy?


HeatherS June 3, 2010 at 6:01 am

What a great idea! I used to think I hated brown rice until I started baking it instead of trying to make in on the stove top. I follow Alton Brown’s baked brown rice recipe and it’s super easy and comes out perfect every time. I usually end up with a little bit leftover after our dinner though, so I could use this idea to make myself lunch for the next day with the little leftover bit. Thanks!


karen June 3, 2010 at 7:38 am

I usually fry leftover rice in a little bit of olive oil and maybe add a shot of soy sauce and some onions, yummy!


Alta June 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

This would be my super-easy way to leftover-ize brown rice! I love it. I actually tend to make extra rice on purpose, so I can either made pudding/porridge with it, or make fried rice with it (because cold leftover rice is WAY better for fried rice). Love this idea too!


Fran June 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

We give our dog a little brown rice with his evening meal of kibble. We used to use canned dog food but it is incredibly disgusting and it makes their teeth/breath awful. He loves the brown rice. I buy the Ready to Serve pots of it though since the human element around here prefers white rice when eating. If you have a dog to feed, he or she would gladly eat any leftover-ized (LOVE this term) brown rice!


becky June 3, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hey Erin, this is a lot like a recipe I use for our family. It was from a “cook from your pantry” episode of a food network show. I modified it a bit to suit our tastes (original was too spicy, too dry). Now I end up stocking our pantry ingredients so I always have it on hand. I can make it literally in ten minutes if I use instant brown rice. I had never thought to make extra rice for leftovers but they would be great in this one since it’s all mixed together!
Don’t know if you care for people offering their recipes, but I don’t blog so I don’t have anything to link this to. ??

* 2 cups instant brown rice
* 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
* 1/2-1 cup prepared salsa (depends how chunky/runny it is)
* 1 tablespoon onion flakes
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (15-ounce) can white or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (11-ounce) can corn, drained
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large skillet and set pan over medium-high heat. Simmer until rice is cooked. Fold in rice and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Eat alone or scoop it up with tortilla chips! Makes a great side dish or main dish…we are not vegetarians, but I don’t miss the meat in this one at all!!


FoodontheTable June 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I think leftoverized will quickly end up in our lexicon!


Tammy June 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm

You can cook brown rice stovetop in only 25 minutes. Bring to boil a large quantity of water or broth … no need to measure, but at least 4-5 times the amount of rice you will be adding later. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add in the brown rice and set the timer for 25 minutes (I like mine with some texture. It will be longer if you want it super soft). LEAVE UNCOVERED. Reduce heat, but make sure it stays at a constant boil. Stir occasionally to ensure no sticking to the bottom. It’s done when the timer goes off. Simply drain the excess liquid and serve.


Bucksome Boomer June 5, 2010 at 11:57 am

We like brown rice but I usually use the frozen rice from Trader Joe’s. My kids are grown and it’s a perfect size for the two of us.


linda June 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

you can use leftover brown rice to make a rice salad with veggies and beans or other grains or even tofu or chicken. use a vinaigrette and chill. a little bit of corn, scallions, tomato, cilantro and black beans would be awesome.


Jeff December 29, 2010 at 2:03 am

Great Site Erin! Just wondered if you use a rice cooker? You mentioned the rice in a I assumed you were cooking it on the stove. I’ve been using a rice cooker ever since my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. I love them! They make perfect rice everytime.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom December 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Jeff!

A rice cooker is next on “the list” of things to add to the kitchen :)



Denise January 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Thanks for this! I used the basic idea today for lunch. I live alone and am trying to keep my food budget at $100 or less for a month. I didn’t use the cheese or beans but had some leftover brown rice and I warmed it, put it on a low carb tortilla, added some homemade salsa verde, rolled it up and ate it. It was great!


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