Starting a cooking club is a no-brainer. Kids love food and enjoy the responsibility of making it and sharing it with others. Learning to cook builds confidence and independence. However, starting a successful cooking club can be intimidating at first. After all, we are putting knives in the hands of children! Here are five ways to ensure that your cooking club runs smoothly.
- Structure and Expectations
Before you start cooking with kids, you need to establish cooking rules and set up a class structure so that students know what to expect. You can use chart paper to display your agenda and rules, which should be reviewed at the start of each session. You don’t need more than three cooking rules, and they can be as simple as:
- Be safe
- Have fun
- Try one bite
When cooking with children, it’s important to model everything first. Most children have very little experience with cooking, so demonstrating how to properly wash hands, read a recipe, and use a knife will be valuable first lessons.
Providing each student with a cooking notebook will also help you organize and structure your class. Students can create a collage on the front cover with pictures from cooking magazines and use scented markers to decorate it. Inside their notebook, they can write down the rules, record recipes, and complete other cooking- related activities.
- Equipment and Supplies
You’ll need to purchase basic cooking equipment and supplies prior to your first class. Edible Education offers a fully stocked culinary cart that makes cooking and clean-up a breeze. The cart includes a burner, oven, sink, and blender, and cooking accessories for 10 students to prepare food at the same time. Edible Education also has a 12-month cooking curriculum full of healthy and easy-to-use recipes.
If you have a small cooking club, look for a multi-function oven that is lightweight and easy to transport. With a multi-function oven, you can cook pizza and pancakes at the same time! And don’t forget the oven mitts and aprons to keep kids safe and clean. The best part is, these can be colored and decorated with paint or fabric markers. Schedule a craft session before you start your cooking club so kids can then use their personalized accessories while cooking.
- Cooking-Related Activities
One reality of cooking with children is that not everyone can cook at the same time. There is also wait time while bread rises, muffins bake, and pots boil. During these down times, you can offer engaging cooking-related activities for kids to enjoy.
With permanent markers or food-safe ceramic paint, kids can decorate their own plates, cups, and placemats. You can then use these personalized items for your meals. Mealtime can also be a learning opportunity for students to practice table manners and engage in conversation.
Kids can also play games such as Fruit and Vegetable Bingo and Match Up the Food Pairs. In their notebooks, children can draw their favorite food pairs such as peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies. Other notebook activities could include writing restaurant reviews, solving measuring cup equations with fractions, and creating original recipes.
- Grow Your Ingredients
You can easily incorporate farm-to-table cooking in your club by growing your own ingredients. When kids participate in the growing, cultivating, and harvesting of their food, they are more likely to try it and like it. Even when it comes to spinach and broccoli!
With a microgreen growing kit, you can grow vegetable greens indoors. Outside, you can set up a raised bed to grow things like herbs, edible flowers, and tomatoes. If you are short on time, plant things like lettuce and radishes—you’ll have a fresh salad in only four weeks!
For the last meeting, plan a special cooking celebration. Kids will scream for making ice cream! With the SoftShell Ice Cream Maker Ball, they can even exercise while doing it! Whisk together homemade whipped cream and arrange a toppings bar for kids to make their own ice cream sundaes. Don’t forget to give it a five-star review!
Article submitted by: Mary-Eileen Gallagher