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Turn your leftover rice into budget-friendly treats, from rice fritters to cheesy rice balls and more. IMAGE: UNSPLASH

Creative Things To Make With Leftover Rice

Fried rice, congee, onigiri, rice salad and a filling for burritos… these hearty options pretty much sum up the usual ways in which we take care of leftover rice.

But did you know that there is actually a whole load more that we can use this awesome staple for, be it white rice or brown rice, thanks to its versatile texture and bland taste?

Check out these creative kid-friendly (and very budget-friendly) ideas to repurpose your leftover rice into something delicious the next day. And most of them can be made in advance too:

Rice Fritters

In the same way that making burgers from mince is much more economical than buying steaks for the whole family, rice fritters are another wholesome dinner or lunch box option. Just mix the leftover rice with some beaten eggs, add flour, chopped vegetables, and any herbs or spices you want. Season and shape into patties. You can shallow fry them on the pan, air fry them or bake them. Ta-da!

Rice Pudding

I love a creamy rice pudding, and I really like a healthier, homemade, less sweet version with leftover brown rice. White rice is fine too but the brown rice has a slightly nuttier and sturdier texture than white rice, which can very quickly go clumpy and gooey when overcooked. Simply stir milk into your leftover rice in a pot and warm slowly (add as much as you like till you get the desired consistency). Add in some cinnamon, and raisins or any other dried fruit you prefer. Perfect for a wholesome (hot or cold) breakfast or a yummy dessert.

Creamy Risotto

This rainy weather is perfect for creamy, cheesy, lazy risotto. And what’s nicer than knowing you can whip up some every time you have leftover rice? Seriously, you’ll be making extra rice JUST so that you have leftovers. All you have to do is add stock to the rice, some herbs, and a touch of butter, and slowly let the mixture simmer until you get a risotto consistency. Serve with loads of grated cheese!

Lentil Loaf

Move over meatloaf! The gluten-free, vegetarian lentil loaf is here, and it’s packed with just as much protein too. As the name suggests, swap the minced meat for cooked lentils, add in chopped onions, carrots and mushrooms, and use the cold, leftover rice to bind the loaf together. Season and add your favourite fresh herbs too. You can finish off by adding a layer of ketchup on top as usual, or try barbecue sauce instead.

Akki Roti

Also known as rice roti, akki (rice in Kannada language) roti is a breakfast staple from the state of Karnataka in southern India, where leftover rice substitutes classic whole wheat flour for making the humble flatbread. Simply grind cold white rice with garlic, ginger, cumin, and chilli, then mixed with rice flour as a binder. Roll as thin as possible and pan fry as usual.

Rice Frittata

Another family favourite comfort food has to be rice frittata. Did you know that classic rice frittata actually originated from Provence just outside of Italy? If you like traditional Italian frittata that uses eggs, cheese, bacon and veggies, you’ll love this one with leftover rice in it too. Whip up some eggs, add in the rice, whatever vegetables you would like, bacon (optional) and grated cheese. Pour in a little milk so that the mixture isn’t too thick, and bake till the eggs are just set. It’s yum with a small salad on the side, and can be quickly made in advance for a busy weekday dinner option.

Rice Casserole

Likewise, if you’re a mac ‘n cheese person, I recommend trying out a creamy rice casserole. Like the frittata, you literally can’t go wrong when it comes to cleaning out the fridge or doing a combination you like. Start off with mixing the leftover rice with some milk (or cream if you want to make it really rich), add in some steamed broccoli florets and shredded chicken. Pour into a baking dish, top with grated cheese and bake till the cheese melts. Can’t get easier than that!

Cheesy Rice Balls

Think elevated onigiri, with these deep fried rice balls, oozing with cheese. Popular Italian street food, arancini and suppli are rice balls traditionally made from arborio rice, with a mozzarella centre, but I can personally vouch that these Italian-inspired leftover rice balls are just as delicious too! Finely chop some onion and garlic, sauté and add to the cold rice, along with grated parmesan. You can leave the balls without filling if you prefer. Otherwise, take some rice into the palm of your hand, flatten and push in a cube of mozzarella. Shape the rice mixture into a ball around the cheese cube, roll in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs and deep fry till golden brown. Tip: you can even use leftover risotto to make these rice balls!

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