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Order Extra Rice With Your Takeout

Because getting takeout or delivery right now necessitates a little more planning

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Cardboard takeout container containing white rice. Shutterstock
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

This post originally appeared in the April 20, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

Whether one should continue ordering out in this crisis is the subject of much debate. On one hand, you may be putting restaurant workers at risk by having them bring stuff to your house. On the other hand, numerous businesses are trying to stay afloat doing just that, and are urging their customers to keep buying. I can’t make the choice for you. But I also imagine that no matter who you are, there’s only so much sourdough you can lovingly craft before you get sick of your own kitchen and would just like someone else to make you some noodles, please. Anyway, it at least makes sense that if you’re getting takeout, you should be judicious about your order, getting enough to last you a few days. Which is why you should always order extra rice for your own cooking.

This is something I’ve always done when ordering Chinese or Indian food (or any other cuisine where plain white rice is plentiful). I think I first got the idea from Carla Hall, who says you can freeze extra rice for up to three months. There’s some science saying leftover rice left out at room temperature for too long can carry the toxin B. cereus, and experts recommend cooling cooked rice quickly and storing it in shallow containers.

But getting some extra rice with my sesame chicken order is a habit I’m thankful I picked up recently, because when you’re staring down a freezer of weird odds and ends and a pantry with ever-dwindling cans of vegetables, being able to make fried rice is a godsend. Got some tomato paste, half a bag of frozen peas, and sausage? That’s a dish. A can of corn, an onion, and the last remnants of a kimchi jar? Fry it with rice and put an egg on it. You can put it in soup if you’ve run out of noodles, use it under dal with all those lentils and beans you bought, or make what I call “college dinner” by just adding soy sauce and sriracha. Pretend your apartment is a dorm!

I know, this sounds a little obvious. You heard of this thing called rice? Gotta check it out! But while takeout was once a relatively thoughtless endeavor, now it necessitates a little more planning. We’re all trying to figure out the etiquette of delivery and social isolation. There aren’t really any clear answers; after all, no one should be interacting with other people if they can help it, but everyone needs to eat. Ordering an easily storable extra few cartons also means fewer trips for your delivery person, so ideally, they are putting themselves at as little risk as possible.

And even though rice is pretty easy to cook — especially if you own a rice cooker — having a few extra cartons on hand means one fewer kitchen task to undertake right now, one thing that you don’t need to think about. Even if, like me, you’re healthy and working from home and everything is personally fine, the weight of the world is crushing. It’s okay to want to make things easier for yourself. Just make sure you tip really well.

P.S.: Prefer to make your own rice at home? We recommend this fancy rice cooker from Japan.