How I spiced up leftovers: mixed grain veggie casserole to “fried rice”

I am always looking for recipes to make quick, healthy, and tasty dinners.  Often I make big batches and eat the same meal throughout the week, so I really only have to “cook” a couple times a week.  Usually I am ok eating the same thing day after day, but sometimes I get bored.  Last time I made my mixed grain and veggie casserole, I ate it once and just wasn’t in the mood for it again.  Maybe I was just craving unhealthy food, but I decided to turn my leftovers into fried rice!  It was delicious – better than the casserole, which I really enjoy on its own – and only took about 15 minutes.

photo of fried rice made from mixed grain veggie casserole

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.


The Recipe – Mixed Grain and Veggie Casserole, “Fried Rice” Style

This recipe has (leftover) mixed grain and veggie casserole as an ingredient.  Note:  it actually contains no rice, unless I opt to use rice in my casserole instead of the barley or bulgar.  Head over to this post to get the casserole recipe!  Depending on if I am chopping fresh veggies or using frozen, this casserole takes me 20-40 minutes to prep, and bakes for an hour.  If I wanted to make the casserole to make the “fried rice”, I would allow about 2 hours (30 minute casserole prep, 1 hour bake, 15 minutes cool, and 15 minutes to mix up the “fried rice”).

mixed grain and veggie casserole
this recipe uses prepared mixed grain veggie casserole as a base

This “fried rice” recipe makes 2 servings, but can easily be scaled to re-purpose more or less of the leftover casserole.

When I make this starting with the casserole leftovers in the fridge, it takes only about 15 minutes to whip up dinner!  

Ingredients

  • about 1/5 of the mixed grain and veggie casserole, prepared.
  • 1-2 Tablespoons oil (I used olive, but canola, vegetable, avocado, etc. would work)
  • 2 eggs (omit for a vegan version)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce (I use light soy sauce, or dilute regular soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with water, otherwise it’s too salty for me)
  • garlic salt or other spices, to taste (I used just a pinch)
ingredients used to make grain and veggie fried "rice"

Instructions

  1. Pour oil into a medium skillet (I love my Farberware skillets!).  Heat over medium heat.  Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble.  Cook until eggs reach the desired consistency.
  2. Pour the leftover mixed grain and veggie casserole into the pan with the eggs.  To the fry pan, add spices, if using, and about 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or diluted soy sauce mixture. 
  3. Stir over medium heat until ingredients are heated through.  Add more soy sauce and spices to taste.
  4. Transfer to 2 plates or bowls, and enjoy! 
mixed grain veggie fried rice

Recipe Cost per Serving

  • Mixed grain and veggie casserole: $0.56/serving.  The full ingredient breakdown is on that recipe page.
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil: $9.99 for 1.5 Liters. 15 mL= 1 Tbsp. $9.99x(30mL/1500mL)=$0.20 per batch, $0.10 per serving
  • 2 Eggs: $1.99/dozen x 2 = $0.332 per batch, $0.166 per serving
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce: $5.49 for 64 oz.  1 Tbsp=0.5 oz. $5.49x(0.5oz/64 oz)=$0.043 per batch, $0.021 per serving
  • Garlic Salt: $0.99 for 8 oz (227 gram, 43.5 tsp). $0.99x(0.125tsp/43.5tsp)=$0.003 per batch, $0.001 per serving

Total cost per serving: $0.85

While the added ingredients increase the cost of this meal, it’s still a nutritious and delicious dish for less than $1 per serving!  


I think the idea of re-purposing leftovers to make a slightly different meal is a fantastic idea!  Do you have favorite recipes for re-purposing leftovers?  Please share with us in the comments below! 

Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend Recipe – Homemade Version

I am  a big fan of healthy, easy meals.  Balancing a full time job and living my life, I don’t always have time to cook healthy meals from scratch.  On one very busy day, I dug around in my freezer and was quite happy to find Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend.  This is a vegan dish, packed with nutrition and great tastes.  It is so simple, but one of my favorite super-easy meals.  I top it with a fried egg (I am vegetarian so I like to sneak in extra protein whenever I can) and it is a very filling but not heavy meal.

Trader Joe's Melodious Blend Homemade Recipe


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.


I don’t have a Trader Joe’s located conveniently to me, so I set out to make my own version.  

The Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend has the following ingredients: Cooked Green Lentils, Cooked Red Lentils, Cooked Green Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt.

image of the Trader Joe's Melodious Blend package
Courtesy Trader Joe’s, copyright 2017

Making my own, there are plenty of opportunities to tailor to my own taste, and to what ingredients are on hand.  This recipe below is how I most recently made it, packing in even more nutrients than the Trader Joe’s version.  My recipe makes 4-6 servings.  To make more like the true Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend, increase lentils to 1.5 cups, omit the spinach, onions, and peppers, and add 1/2 pint quartered grape tomatoes or 1/2 can diced tomatoes (finely diced if available).

Trader Joe's Melodious Blend ingredients

Ingredients
  • 1 can chickpeas (1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas), I use unsalted
  • 1 cup dry lentils (100 grams)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 100 grams spinach (about 1.5 cups chopped frozen, or 3.5 cups fresh, packed)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Note: My recipe contains roughly similar amounts of chick peas and lentils, by volume.  The Trader Joe’s version is more like 2-3 parts lentils to 1 part chickpeas, but I wanted to use a can of precooked chick peas (actually I cook chickpeas from dried and freeze them in 2 cup mason jars to have ready-to-use chickpeas without the cans) and did not want to make a huge batch.  

cooking homemade Trader Joe's Melodious Blend

Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add the 1 cup lentils.  Use the cook time on the package instructions (different types of lentils have different cook times – typically split lentils cook in about 7 minutes and whole lentils cook in 15-20).  Do not add salt to the water when cooking lentils (I have read this can ruin the flavor or texture, and it always comes out well when I salt later).
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  
  3. Dice the onions and peppers.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan (I love this ceramic nonstick pan!).  Saute the onions about 5 minutes, then add peppers.  Continue to saute until the onions are translucent.  If using fresh spinach, chop and saute until wilted.  Remove from heat.
  4. Once the lentils are done cooking (they look “fluffy” around the edges and are tender), reduce heat to low.  Add the chickpeas, onions and peppers, spinach (sauteed or frozen), an additional tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper*.  Stir together and, once the chickpeas are warmed, remove from heat.
  5. If desired, fry 1 egg per serving (the nonstick pans are the only way I can manage to cook eggs). 
  6. Divide into 4-6 individual serving bowls.  If including egg, top each bowl with a fried egg.
  7. Enjoy your healthy, delicious, and frugal home-cooked meal!

*If including tomatoes, add in step 4.  

homemade Trader Joe's Melodious Blend - finished cooking

Lentils are high in iron, and vitamin C has been shown to increase the absorption of iron, so I like adding vitamin C-rich foods to iron rich foods, like lentils.  Bell peppers and tomatoes are both high in vitamin C, so I always try to add at least one of them to my lentil meals.

Homemade Recipe - Trader Joe's Melodious Blend
Serves 5
My adaptation of Trader Joe's Melodious Blend - made from scratch.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
271 calories
38 g
0 g
7 g
15 g
1 g
150 g
615 g
2 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
150g
Servings
5
Amount Per Serving
Calories 271
Calories from Fat 65
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 1g
5%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 615mg
26%
Total Carbohydrates 38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 13g
52%
Sugars 2g
Protein 15g
Vitamin A
62%
Vitamin C
57%
Calcium
7%
Iron
22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 can chickpeas (1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas), I use unsalted
  2. 1 cup dry lentils
  3. 1/2 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  5. 100 grams spinach (about 1.5 cups chopped frozen, or 3.5 cups fresh, packed)
  6. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. pinch ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add the 1 cup lentils.  Use the cook time on the package instructions (different types of lentils have different cook times - typically split lentils cook in about 7 minutes and whole lentils cook in 15-20).  Do not add salt to the water when cooking lentils (I have read this can ruin the flavor or texture, and it always comes out well when I salt later).
  2. 2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  3. 3. Dice the onions and peppers.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan.  Saute the onions about 5 minutes, then add peppers.  Continue to saute until the onions are translucent.  If using fresh spinach, chop and saute until wilted.  Remove from heat.
  4. 4. Once the lentils are done cooking (they look "fluffy" around the edges and are tender), reduce heat to low.  Add the chickpeas, onions and peppers, spinach (sauteed or frozen), an additional tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper*.  Stir together and, once the chickpeas are warmed, remove from heat.
  5. 5. If desired, fry 1 egg per serving.
  6. 6. Divide into 4-6 individual serving bowls.  If including egg, top each bowl with a fried egg.
  7. 7. Enjoy your healthy, delicious, and frugal home-cooked meal!
Notes
  1. Note: My recipe contains roughly similar amounts of chick peas and lentils, by volume.  The Trader Joe's version is more like 2-3 parts lentils to 1 part chickpeas, but I wanted to use a can of precooked chick peas (actually I cook chickpeas from dried and freeze them in 2 cup mason jars to have ready-to-use chickpeas without the cans) and did not want to make a huge batch.
  2. *If including tomatoes, add in step 4.
Adapted from Trader Joe's Melodious Blend
beta
calories
271
fat
7g
protein
15g
carbs
38g
more
Adapted from Trader Joe's Melodious Blend
https://mygreenerliving.com/
If I am really hungry and want to make this a more hearty meal, I like to enjoy it with a slice of my homemade soaked bread or sourdough bread.  I particularly like how the sourdough complements the mild flavors of this recipe. 

Nutrition

I used MyFitnessPal to calculate the nutrition for this recipe.

Assuming 5 servings, nutrition per serving without egg:

225 calories, 7 grams fat (1g saturated), 490 mg sodium (20%DV), 31 grams carbs, 8g fiber, 6 g sugar, 11 g protein, Vitamin A 43%, Vitamin C 93%, Calcium 6%, Iron 19%

Assuming 5 servings, nutrition per serving with egg:

300 calories, 12 grams fat (2g saturated), 560 mg sodium (23%DV), 32 grams carbs, 8g fiber, 6 g sugar, 17 g protein, Vitamin A 48%, Vitamin C 93%, Calcium 9%, Iron 24%

homemade Trader Joe's Melodious Blend - serving

Cost
  • 1 can chickpeas (1.75 cups), prepared from dried beans. $1.50 for 1 lb dry, which yields 6 cups, or $1.50 x (1.75 cups/6 cups)=$0.438
  • 1 cup dry lentils (200 grams) (organic). $1.99/lb (1 lb = 454 grams).  $1.99 x (200g/454g) = $0.877
  • 1/2 medium onion (organic). $3.49 for 3lbs (6 medium onions). $3.49x(1/2 onion/6 onions)=$0.291
  • 1 medium bell pepper (~130 grams) (organic). $3.99 for 1 lb (454g) organic frozen bell peppers. $3.99 x (130 g/454 g)=$1.143
  • 100 grams spinach (organic). $6.99 for 3.5 lb (1588 grams).  $6.99 x (100g/1588g)=$0.440
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (30mL). $9.99 for 1.5 Liters. $9.99 x (30mL/1500mL)=$0.20
  • 1 teaspoon salt. $1.48 for a 26 oz (737g) carton, containing 491-1/4 tsp servings. $1.48 x (4 servings/491 servings)=$0.012
  • pinch black pepper – assume 1/16 teaspoon. $4.19 for 1.7 oz (53.9g) organic ground black pepper. 2.1 grams/tsp. $4.19 x (2.1g/53.9g) x (1/16 teaspoon) = $0.010
  • 5 eggs. Currently $1.48 per dozen. $1.48 x (5 eggs/12 eggs)=$0.617

Total without egg: $3.411.  Per serving (assuming 5 servings): $0.68

Total with egg: $4.028.  Per serving (assuming 5 servings): $0.81

This meal packs in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, and is less than $1 per serving!  This is by far one of my favorite frugal + nutritious meals. 

homemade Trader Joe's Melodious Blend - serving with egg

Have you made your own homemade version of a store bought meal mix?  Tell us about it in the comments below!