As the end of the week approaches the odd bits and leftovers in the fridge may not inspire you with school lunch ideas but this might. Use leftovers to make fried rice for healthy school lunches.
The idea for an easy, use what you have on hand style recipe started with a text from my son, “how do you make fried rice?”.
You don’t need a recipe, just follow these steps and use what you have on hand I told him. He is in second year university and I miss him terribly, especially at mealtimes.
Here I’m breaking the rules and doubling the veggies you’ll find in most fried rice recipes, #halfyourplate style!
Follow these 3 easy steps.
Use what you have on hand to make it your own.
1. Stir fry the vegetables. Set aside.
2. Make garlicky fried rice.
Slide rice to the side of the skillet & scramble the eggs.
3. Add vegetables, chopped cooked meats/alternatives & seasoning.
Stir to combine.
Hot or cold, fried rice is a satisfying lunch and nice way to switch things up when lunchtime boredom hits. Enjoy!
Do you have any questions about packing school lunches or childhood nutrition?
I’m a registered dietitian and I’m here to help!
Dietitian's Tip: Fresh and frozen vegetables are equally nutritious.You can mix and match in this recipe. I'm a fan of using leftovers too. Did you know? The average family in Canada wastes about $1500.00/year in food.
- 1. Stir fry the vegetables. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat a splash of canola oil (about 1 tbsp) over medium heat. Add a chopped onion and 4-6 cups chopped vegetables (fresh/frozen/leftover). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir until tender crisp or heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside.
- 2. Make garlicky fried rice. Scramble eggs.
- In the same skillet, heat a splash of canola oil (about 1 tbsp).
- Add about 4 minced garlic cloves, stir until fragrant, then add about 2 cups cooked, cooled brown rice. Spread rice evenly and break up any clumps. Let the rice toast, don’t over stir, about 2-3 minutes. Move rice to one side of the skillet to make room to scramble 3 beaten eggs.
- Tip: For grains that easily separate, cooked/cooled rice is a must.
- 3. Add vegetables, meats/alternatives & seasoning.
- Add back the cooked vegetables, 1½ cups cooked and diced meats or alternatives,
3 tsbp sodium-reduced soy sauce and 1 tbsp sesame seed oil.
- Stir well to combine and cook until hot, about 3-5 minutes.
- Season to taste. Add optional toppings (see notes).
1. Beef, frozen "Asian" mix vegetables, cabbage/bagged coleslaw, topping -green onions
2. Turkey/chicken frozen peas, mushrooms, broccoli/brocoli slaw, topping -water chesnuts
3. Pork, red pepper, pineapple, cabbage/bagged coleslaw, topping -Thai basil
4. Firm tofu, frozen shelled edamame, carrots, Asian eggplant, topping -toasted sesame seeds
5. Fish/shrimp/seafood, frozen carrots/peas/corn, baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, topping -fresh cilantro
6. Lentils, cauliflower, orange bell pepper, frozen green peas, napa cabbage, topping -bean sprouts
7. Chickpeas, kale, carrots, mushrooms, frozen/fresh green beans, topping -hot sauce
8. Black beans, sugar snap peas, zucchini, red peppers, bok choy, topping -nori flakes
About a handful, pick one:
Toasted sesame seeds
3 Time-saving tips:
1. Always make extra rice - keeps for a week in the fridge (6 months in freezer).
4. Chop a few onions at once -keeps for 5 days in fridge (10 months in freezer).
5. To quickly defrost a bowl of frozen veggies, add boiling water, then drain.
School lunch food safety:
Fried rice does not have enough liquid to keep hot in a thermos.
Pack it cold for lunches. It can be eaten cold or heated up at school/work.