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Lia's Fried Rice

Stop Food Waste Blog

Lia's Fried Rice

May 12, 2023

Stop Food Waste Blog

Lia shares her commitment to not wasting food at home with this flexible recipe that makes use of leftover ingredients, vegetables, and condiments on hand. 

Lia, a long-time Food Shift Advisor and Volunteer, has a generous spirit and actively contributes her time, talents, and wisdom to Food Shift and other Bay Area organizations. 

“My family calls me a human composter. It’s true that I eat the post-puréeing, raspberry seed residue from the cheesecake sauce, the little red and white strawberry bits around the green stem that most throw away, and all the delicious peeled apple skins from pie prep (the role our dog Samson used to play). Food waste in my home kitchen is a big no-no, as a result of long-term volunteering with Food Shift and the sheer frugality ingrained by parents who had endured the Great Depression or a hydrogen bomb. I’m somewhat obsessive about it now, freezing all the parsley stems from tabbouleh for broth, keeping past-date sour milk as buttermilk for marinating chicken or oatmeal pancakes. I regularly prepare a quick fried rice using leftover rice and all the random, smaller portions of vegetables and any available protein from the fridge. Onion/garlic/ginger or any combo is the foundation, and a fresh green garnish gives the dish some color. Some people think green peas are essential, but only if you have them on hand. It’s simple, savory and satisfying!”

Yaki-Meshi (Japanese Fried Rice) Recipe
Serves 4


  • 2 cups of leftover cooked rice or grains
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil or you can substitute mayonnaise
  • 1 onion (any type), diced small 
  • 3 cups of chopped vegetables  (e.g., thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, diced broccoli stems, minced jalapeno, finely chopped herbs*)
  • Optional: About ½ cup of a cooked protein of choice, e.g., bacon bits, diced chicken, or chopped seafood or tofu
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced; or ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Optional: 1 tsp minced ginger OR a pinch of ginger powder 
  • Optional: ½ cup green peas, frozen (thawed) or from a can (drained)
  • 2 whisked eggs or egg substitute
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Sliced green onions or finely chopped cilantro for garnish 


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a sauté pan or wok over medium heat. 
  2. Add diced onion and a pinch of salt, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in veggies of choice and add another pinch of salt and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add cooked protein of choice, if using, and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, if using, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Add another Tbsp of oil and allow 30-45 seconds for it to heat in the pan. Add rice and stir to coat the grains and vegetables with oil. Fold in green peas, if using, and stir the rice mixture gently to avoid a mushy texture.
  4. Push rice and vegetables to one side and add whisked eggs, scrambling with a spatula until almost fully cooked.
  5. Mix the scrambled eggs in with the rice mixture and add soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Turn heat off, garnish with sliced green onions and/or cilantro (optional) and serve!

Notes: *Cut your vegetables in similar sizes so that they take about the same amount of time to cook.

Maximizing Your Food

Fried rice is the perfect way to use leftover rice, vegetables and proteins that need to get used up and every time you make it, it will be unique! This will last in the fridge for a few days, it’s even better the next day. Freezes well, too! For freezing, store in an airtight container or a freezer bag, making sure to get as much air out as possible. Don’t forget to label your rice and include the date (your future self will be grateful). When you are ready to enjoy the rice again, you can reheat it in a pan on the stove. You may need to add additional flavoring or seasonings. Some non-traditional options are ketchup and hot sauce. 

A little known trick is that you can use mayonnaise in place of oil when cooking on low or medium heat. Next time you run out of oil or have a little bit of mayonnaise that needs to get used in the bottom of the jar, try adding it to a pan to saute vegetables, when cooking scrambled eggs, or use it instead of butter when making a grilled cheese sandwich.

More stories, recipes, tips, and videos from Food Shift:

Food is often rooted in story. In this monthly blog series, Food Shift, one of our Chef Partners, is amplifying the voices of their culinary training graduates and their community by sharing their stories and adaptable recipes. Stay tuned for more installments.

Portrait Artwork By: Sophia Zaleski

Learn more about Food Shift and their programs to rescue surplus food to fuel their social enterprise kitchen rather than waste away in landfills.