Easy Cheap Fried Rice Recipe: Tasty Budget Meal For Your Family

Quick & Simple Vegetable Fried Rice Budget Family Meal

If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries but still want to have healthy meals, then this cheap fried rice recipe is exactly what you’re looking for.

This recipe is versatile enough that you can cook a large batch of plain rice and portion it out into many different meals. Veggie fried rice is quick, easy, healthy (depending on oil usage), and flavorful.

Seriously, this dish is so simple it’s difficult to mess up!  To make it even faster, you don’t even need to prep veggies.  Instead, use frozen vegetables. It honestly can’t get any easier or less expensive than this.  

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What Type Of Rice Do You Use For Fried Rice?

Any medium to long grain rice works best. Jasmine rice is the kind that is typically used in Chinese restaurants. This produces fluffy yet sturdy grains that can hold up to being fried without becoming mushy.

What Oil Is Best For Fried Rice?

It is recommended to use either peanut, canola, or sesame oil. All three oils have a smoke point temperature that is high enough for stir-frying.

Canola oil has a neutral flavor while peanut oil tastes slightly nutty. Sesame oil is great to use as a seasoning after cooking since it has a strong flavor.

Preparing The Rice In A Pressure Cooker

Preparing rice in a pressure cooker is one of the easiest methods to get perfectly cooked rice every time. It doesn’t take a lot of watching or tending to so you can prep other ingredients while your rice is cooking.

I mentioned above that I like making my rice in an Instant Pot. If you don’t have one yet, I’d look into getting one if you enjoy one-pot meals.  It’s my one kitchen appliance that gets used multiple times a week.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can also prepare the rice via stovetop by the directions on the bag. Make the rice and put it in the fridge to use later.

instant pot cooked white rice

Instant Pot White Rice Instructions

  1. Cook 2 cups of dry long-grain white rice or 4 cups if you like lots of leftovers.  Measure out your rice and rinse it under cold water for a minute or two.
  2. Add the rinsed rice to the Instant Pot.
  3. Add water to the Instant Pot.  I use a 1:1 ratio. If you used 2 cups of rice then add 2 cups of water.  
  4. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the lid vent is turned to Sealed.  
  5. You can use the Rice button if you’d like.  Alternatively, use the Manual button set to high pressure for 8 minutes.  
  6. Let it do its thing.  After the buzzer goes off, let it sit for 10 minutes before turning the lid valve to Vent.  Use a spoon or something long to turn the valve to prevent your hand from getting burnt by steam.
  7. Scoop rice into a storage container and pop it in the fridge until it’s cooled.

Can You Use Fresh Rice For Fried Rice?

Fried rice recipes recommend using old rice and not freshly cooked.  This is due to the higher moisture content of fresh-cooked rice.

If you want to use fresh-cooked rice, then spread it out in an even layer to cool off and evaporate as much moisture as possible before using as fried rice.

Rice that is a day old also is less mushy. The grains have time to firm up so when they are sautéed again, they hold their shape better. I’ve tested both fresh and day-old rice in this recipe and the fresh rice is always slightly mushier.

Making The Vegetable Fried Rice

This veggie fried rice only uses around 5 ingredients and has almost zero prep time.  The longest prep is having the rice ready to use but that can be made days in advance.  

This recipe is perfect for a quick, healthy, and cheap dinner.  All you need to have on hand is some frozen vegetables, tamari sauce, sriracha, and your choice of oil, broth, or water to stir fry.

vegetable fried rice ingredients with sauces and frozen vegetables

Heat up the wok on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Then add either oil, veggie broth, or water along with the frozen vegetables.  I use a few tablespoons of peanut oil but if you’re limiting your oil intake then vegetable broth works well.

Add the larger frozen vegetables such as Normandy blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) or stir fry blend.  Constantly stir the vegetables for 5 minutes or slightly longer.  You want the vegetables to be warmed through but not soggy.

sautéing frozen vegetables in wok

Once the large vegetables are done, add any smaller vegetables such as frozen peas.  This is a good time to add bok choy, canned bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or fresh bean sprouts.  Add tamari sauce to taste and cook the mixture for another minute or two.

cooked frozen vegetables for cheap fried rice in wok

Stir in the rice once the vegetables are done cooking.  I used all 4 cups of cooked rice.  Use more or less depending on the ration of vegetables to rice you prefer.

Instant Pot white rice mixed with vegetable blend and soy sauce

Once the rice has been mixed in, remove the wok from the heat.  Add any additional tamari and some sriracha sauce.  Mix it all together and you’re all done.

completed meal of vegetable fried rice in white bowl

If you had the plain rice already prepared, the actual cook time for this dinner is less than 10 minutes.  

The broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables which are high in antioxidants.  Carrots are excellent sources of beta carotene and peas have a surprising amount of protein.  

If you’d prefer additional protein then tofu or tempeh would be a great addition.

dirt cheap healthy vegetable fried rice in a bowl

Cheap Vegetable Fried Rice

Steffa Mantilla, CFEI
Easy, budget friendly fried rice using leftover rice and frozen vegetables.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people


  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 2 tbsp oil, vegetable broth, or water
  • 1 bag frozen vegetable blend
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 2-4 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha


  • Heat up a deep wok style pan on medium heat.
  • Once it has heated for about 5 minutes, add either oil, veggie broth, or water to the pan.  Whatever you intend to saute your vegetables in. If using broth or water, use a small amount and add more as it evaporates.  If you add too much at once then you’ll end up simmering the vegetables and they’ll get soggy.
  • Add the large frozen vegetables. I use frozen normandy blend that contains cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli.
  • Constantly stir the vegetables for about 5 minutes.  You want them to be warmed through but not soggy.
  • Once the large vegetables are about done, add smaller vegetables such as frozen peas.  This is also a good time to add canned bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or fresh bean sprouts.
  • Add tamari sauce to taste and cook the mixture for another minute or two.
  • Stir in the rice.  I used all 4 cups of rice.  It’s up to you what ratio of rice to vegetables you prefer.  
  • Remove pan from heat.  Add additional tamari and also some sriracha sauce.  Mix it all together and you’re done!
Keyword cheap fried rice, vegetable fried rice

Dinner Cost Breakdown:

Organic White Rice (2 cups dry)$1.50
Organic Frozen Normandy Blend (32 oz)$2.68
Organic Frozen Peas (8 oz)$1.14
Sauces (Tamari, Sriracha, Peanut Oil)$1

Whenever possible we try to eat organic.  I buy the store brand organic items if they’re available.  While still more expensive than conventional items, they tend to be a lot less than other brand name organic food.  

I also estimated that the amount of sauces I used wouldn’t be more than $1.  The total for the meal ends up being $6.32. This makes A LOT of food. We each ate two heaping bowls per meal.

 My entire wok was so filled it was difficult to stir. This covered us for two dinners which makes it $3.16 a dinner or $1.58 a person per meal.  Not too bad, especially since everything was organic.

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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Easy Chinese Fried Rice On A Budget

2 thoughts on “Easy Cheap Fried Rice Recipe: Tasty Budget Meal For Your Family”

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe. I actually made my own fried rice from your recipe. You are indeed a good chef. I will refer my friends to your blog so they can know how fried rice is made using your recipe. Thanks, you’re a lifesaver!

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