In our household, rice is an extremely popular meal prep option! It is very easy to cook in bulk (especially in the Instant Pot) and it pretty much goes well with anything. But, is it safe?
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It is definitely safe to meal prep rice if you follow standard food safety precautions! These include preparing, storing, and reheating rice properly so that it is safe to eat.
Aside from sharing how to safely prepare rice, we will be diving into why rice has a reputation for being “unsafe for meal prep”, how to store and, how to reheat rice. After reading this post you will feel confident to meal prep rice every week!
This post is all about Is It Safe To Meal Prep Rice?!
How To Prepare Rice Safely?
Before going into how to prepare rice safely, let’s address why rice has a reputation for being “unsafe for meal prep”.
Uncooked rice may contain a bacteria called bacillus cereus. The cooking process doesn’t kill this bacteria, so if cooked rice is left to sit at room temperature for too long, it can produce toxins causing food poisoning (source).
If you are concerned about the Bacillus cereus bacteria, you can simply never leave cooked rice out at room temperature aka the temperature danger zone between 4° C (40 °F) and 60° C (140 °F) degrees for too long! This is because the bacteria only become harmful when cooked rice is left to sit at room temperature for too long.
Side note: This is however a standard food safety precaution you should follow with any prepared food since all bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 4° C (40 °F) and 60° C (140 °F).
To ensure that rice is prepared in the safest way possible, here are a few food safety precautions you can take:
1. Wash Your Hands
Anytime you are about to handle food, you should wash your hands properly to prevent foodborne illness. The FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) recommends washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets!
It is also important to regularly clean cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops, etc!
2. Rinse Your Rice
Just like washing fruit and vegetables before eating them, we should wash our grains. By the time rice arrives in your kitchen, it has traveled a long journey. Along the way, it can pick up dirt, dust, debris, chemicals, and bugs. To avoid introducing these substances into your dish, you can simply rinse your rice before cooking it.
3. Cook Rice Adequately
Make sure the rice reaches a high temperature (minimum 73.9 °C / 165 °F) when cooking.
My favorite way to cook rice for meal prep is in the Instant Pot!
4. Cool Rice Quickly
Once the rice is cooked, divide it between your meal prep containers and/or freezer pods into individual portions. The individual portions will help the rice cool down quickly. As soon as the rice has cooled down, transfer it to the fridge or freezer.
You should never leave cooked rice out at room temperature aka the temperature danger zone between 4° C (40 °F) and 60° C (140 °F) degrees for too long! This is because leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures 4° C (40 °F) and 60° C (140 °F) degrees, according to the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration).
The maximum amount of time rice can be left out at room temperature is two hours. When temperatures are above 32° C (90° F), a maximum of 1 hour!
How Do You Store Rice For Meal Prep?
Now that you have prepared your rice safely, make sure to store it safely too.
Rice should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months for optimal freshness and quality, according to the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration).
Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are kept at the right temperature. Your fridge should be kept at or below 4° C (40° F), while your freezer should be kept at or below -18° C (0° F). If your appliances don’t have a built-in thermometer, you can purchase an inexpensive appliance thermometer.
I personally highly recommend storing your rice in airtight glass meal prep containers, these will help to maintain the optimal freshness and quality of the rice.
What Is The Best Way To Reheat Rice?
When reheating rice, make sure it is piping hot throughout.
The easiest way to reheat rice is to microwave it:
- Open the storage container and remove the lid. For each cup of rice, add 1–2 tablespoons of water. Place the lid lightly back on top or use a microwave lid to allow the rice to re-steam.
- Place in the microwave and heat for 3–4 minutes, or until piping hot throughout.
- Ideally, the internal temperature of the rice is at 73.9 °C (165 °F) or higher.
- Serve immediately.
Other ways to reheat rice include frying or steaming it!
Meal Prep Recipes With Rice:
- One-Pot Cheesy Chickpea Broccoli and Rice Meal Prep – Super Cheap Vegan Meal Prep
- Sweet Sriracha Mince And Broccoli – Vegan High Protein Meal Prep
- Easy Peanut Tofu Meal Prep Bowls
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This post was all about Is It Safe To Meal Prep Rice?!