Homemade long grain and wild rice mix, cooked.
Back when I posted about Homemade Hamburger Helper, I had some requests to look at boxed rice and pasta mixes, too. I’m here first with my homemade mix for long grain and wild rice, which is my very favorite of all the boxed rice mixes. (I’ll have more homemade versions of other popular flavors soon! I’m studying on it!)
I love long grain and wild rice because it has such a nice nutty flavor. It goes with everything and looks pretty on the plate. I bought a box of Rice A Roni and a box of Uncle Ben’s and set to work deciphering their long grain and wild rice secrets.
Why would you want to make homemade long grain and wild rice mix? (In case you’re wondering.) You might want to do it for the price. Homemade is cheaper. Or maybe you care about all those long laboratory-sounding words in the boxed ingredients list. Or maybe you just want your rice to taste better, without that preservative packaged flavor that comes in anything boxed.
First, let’s look at what’s in the boxed mixes.
Rice A Roni long grain and wild rice (4.3 ounce box) measures up to almost 2/3 cup of rice.
A look at the ingredients list will tell you that more than half of the rice you’re looking at here is not wild rice. It’s parboiled long grain white rice.
What is parboiled rice? Parboiled rice is rice that has been boiled in the husk before being processed. It’s higher in nutrition and cooks up less sticky. It also costs a little more. A 32 ounce bag of parboiled long grain white rice costs $1.64 (at my store). But wait! We shall see on this cost thing, shall we not? Please use parboiled long grain white rice for your mix, NOT regular long grain white rice.
There is a difference in how it cooks up. Parboiled rice cooks up light and fluffy while regular rice can cook up gummy. If you use regular white rice in this mix, you may be disappointed with the results as they will not compare to the boxed mix. (Note: I bought the Wal-Mart store brand parboiled rice. They also sell the Uncle Ben’s parboiled rice–it’s significantly more expensive. Try to find a generic parboiled rice.)
Back to the price…. The other half (or less) of what is in a boxed long grain and wild rice mix is wild rice. I live in the middle of nowhere and I drove to the “big” tiny town in our county and found this 16 ounce bag of “gourmet blend of wild and whole grain brown rice” at the Wal-Mart.
It includes long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, whole grain Wehani rice, and whole grain Black Japonica rice. This is already more exciting than the mere wild rice in the box.
But–this 16 ounce bag of gourmet rice cost me $3.47. OUCH!!!!
Hold on here.
To make up the 2/3 cup of parboiled long grain white rice and wild rice in the Rice A Roni box, you will need 1/3 cup parboiled long grain white rice and 1/3 cup wild rice.
If you buy the rice yourself:
1/3 cup parboiled long grain white rice = 13 cents.
1/3 cup wild rice = 58 cents.
Total cost of your homemade long grain and wild rice = 71 cents.
Cost of the Rice A Roni boxed long grain and wild rice = $1.24.
And just look at this–the Rice A Roni long grain and wild rice is in the bowl to the left, my homemade rice mix on the right. Which one looks better to you?
What about Uncle Ben’s?
Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice (6 ounce box) measures out to just under a cup of rice.
If you buy the rice yourself:
1/2 cup parboiled long grain white rice = 20 cents.
1/2 cup wild rice = 86 cents.
Total cost of your homemade long grain and wild rice mix = $1.06.
Cost of Uncle Ben’s boxed long grain and wild rice = $1.94.
Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice on the left, my homemade rice mix on the right.
We have a winner in both cases, and it’s homemade!
What about the seasonings, Suzanne?
I haven’t forgotten about the seasonings, but the amount needed for the mix is a negligible cost, a few cents. Maybe throw in 5 cents for the seasonings to be extra generous. What you are really paying for when you buy a boxed rice mix is the rice plus the convenience of the seasonings packet.
To make your rice mix, combine equal parts parboiled long grain white rice and wild rice.
Make as much as you want to store at a time, just keep the mixture 50/50–unless you don’t want it to be 50/50! You’re in charge! You can use 3 parts wild rice to 1 part parboiled long grain white rice if you want! It’ll cost you a little bit more, but it STILL WON’T COST AS MUCH AS THE BOX. So go ahead. Live a little. If you want!
Back to the seasonings. What are the seasonings anyway?
The Rice A Roni version includes salt, sugar, parsley, and garlic powder (in that order), along with various preservatives and who knows what.
The Uncle Ben’s version lists dried vegetables (onion, spinach, celery, tomato, carrot), parsley, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and onion powder (in that order) along with the various laboratory-sounding ingredients.
You can put together a seasoning mix however you like. The classic ingredients that flavor both of these mixes are parsley and garlic. Whether you want to add some dried minced onions or onion powder and other dried vegetables probably depends on which brand you prefer. The sugar and salt is up to you, which is one of the great things about a homemade mix–you can control the sugar and salt. You can season it up however you like, using different herbs, whatever is your favorite. You can also use dried minced or granulated garlic instead of garlic powder.
Take my basic seasoning mix as a starting point. Experiment with the seasonings until you suit your own taste.
1 cup dried parsley
1/3 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
This makes about 1 1/2 cups seasoning mix. (It’s also great sprinkled on baked or fried potatoes!)
To make the Rice A Roni size homemade version:
2/3 cup long grain and wild rice mix plus 1 level tablespoon seasoning mix. Cook rice with 1 2/3 cups water and a tablespoon of butter or olive oil (optional). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is gone.
To make the Uncle Ben’s size homemade version:
1 cup long grain and wild rice mix plus one heaping tablespoon seasoning mix. Cook rice with 2 1/4 cups water and a tablespoon of butter or olive oil (optional). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is gone.
You can tuck your seasonings mix inside the bigger bag holding your long grain and wild rice mix. Tack on a little note telling yourself how much seasonings mix per how much rice.
With your homemade long grain and wild rice mix, you will not only save some money, you can suit your own taste in the seasonings (not to mention the sugar and salt), and use fresher ingredients with no preservatives. (I used my own dried parsley saved over from my garden last year.)