Recipes and Reads: Culinary Labs

Culinary Lab workshops serve up comprehensive, culinary literacy programs that include hands-on demonstrations of food and nutritional literacy; food acquisition methods; food handling, hygiene and safety; culture and history of food; and consumer cost-saving techniques and meal stretching.  Each of the culinary lab workshops may include the use of fully stocked mobile, kitchen carts to aid in these food-related demonstrations.  The labs are strategically located at library branches throughout the county and serve all ages.  Registration may be required, at some locations, for Recipes and Reads: Culinary Lab workshops. 

Food Acquisition, Cost Saving, and Meal Stretching

Meal stretching is a great way to save money…something we all would love to do! It just takes a little time to plan what ingredients you will make in larger quantities so you can make multiple meals with it throughout the week or month. This is especially beneficial for families, but even if you are a household of one, this will also take a hefty chunk out of your grocery bill!

I will use rice as an example, then follow this up with some recipes you can use for the same big batch of rice. There are different types of rice to choose from, so if you are not sure which one you like, try some small packages of various types and see which you prefer. I enjoy jasmine rice. When cooking it, just follow the instructions on the package…and whatever you do, DON’T take off the lid to check it! This is something folks do sometimes to check on the rice but when you take the lid off the pot, it lets important steam out of the pot that the rice needs to cook properly and get plump and delicious. If you must peak at the rice while it’s cooking, be sure you have a clear glass lid for your pots and pans.

After the rice has cooked thoroughly and has cooled to room temperature, pack it in air-tight containers and either put it into the fridge, or the freezer. When cooked rice is stored in the fridge, it can last for up to 3-5 days. When stored in the freezer it can keep for up to 6 months.

Now for the fun part. Use that big batch of rice you made throughout the week for a few meals with the recipes listed here! Don’t forget you can add beans, meat, and tofu for protein. There are so many ways to save money when it comes to food. It just takes a little planning, effort and creativity. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes and check out some of our extensive cook book collection at the Volusia County Public Library!


Easy Fried Rice


  • Pre-cooked rice
  • Small white onion
  • Vegetables - Peas and Carrots. You can also add in other veggies such as bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, snow peas and cabbage.
  • Eggs
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Sauce


  1. Preheat skillet. Turn your skillet to medium high heat and pour sesame oil into the bottom of your skillet and add the onion, peas and carrots. Fry this until they are tender.

  2. Slide the veggies to the side. Pour the beaten eggs onto the other side. Use a spatula to scramble the eggs. Mix them together with the veggies.

  3. Add the rice. Combine it with the veggie and egg mixture. Pour the soy sauce on top and stir until it is heated throughout.

Easy Spanish Rice


  • Pre-cooked rice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil + butter. For toasting your rice
  • Chicken broth (or stock) + tomato sauce (or puree). These two ingredients constitute the liquid in which your rice will cook. So much more flavorful that plain water!
  • Herbs + spices. For even more flavor! Namely, you'll need chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and dried oregano.


  1. First, get out a large skillet with a lid and melt the butter over medium heat. Next, stir in the spices and rice and let this all cook together for 1-2 minutes.

  2. Then, whisk the tomato sauce and chicken broth into the rice and spices mixture. Bring all of this to a boil and then reduce to a high simmer. Add the lid and cover and cook for 10 minutes

  3. After the rice has absorbed the broth, take the lid off the rice and fluff with a fork and serve.

Recommended reads

Book cover for Save-it-Forward Suppers Save-it-Forward Suppers by Cindi Kane.

Transform leftovers from each meal into a fresh new dish and put a home-cooked dinner on the table every night with 100-plus recipes and 15 easy weekly menus

Reserve a copy

Book cover for Cook More, Waste LessCook More, Waste Less by Christine Tizzard.

Currently one-third of all the food produced in the world is thrown away. Going zero-waste with food isn't some-thing we'll reach overnight, nor is it a hard and fast rule; but it's something we should all be moving towards-to help the environment, and our own wallets too!

Reserve a copy

Book cover for Traditional Meals for the Frugal FamilyTraditional Meals for the Frugal Family by Shannon Stonger.

In this practical cookbook, Shannon Stonger invites you into her bustling homestead kitchen. She shares how she feeds her family of eight with delicious, nutritious meals for less. Based on the wisdom of traditional food diets, these recipes are focused on unprocessed ingredients, pastured animal products and frugal foods that people have thrived on for generations

Reserve a copy

Book cover for Weekly provisionsWeekly Provisions by Kim Duke.

Twelve complete menus for entertaining transform into 65 ideas for using up the leftovers during the week. All the time-and money-saving benefits of batch-cooking - but with way more fun, flavor and variety.

Reserve a copy

Image by Adelia Rosalinda from Pixabay

Upcoming programs

All Recipes and Reads programs

Division of Library and Information Services Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida’s LSTA program is administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services.