Tips for Preparing Food at School

Tip 1: Keep it Simple

  • Choose recipes that use basic ingredients that are easy to find at a reasonable price. 
  • Keep recipes simple, with instructions that are clear and easy to follow.
  • Use basic kitchen equipment (e.g., bowls, measuring spoons, knives). 
  • Some participants may not have kitchen experience, so explain things well and offer lots of encouragement.

Tip 2:  Keep it Tasty and Nutritious

  • Involve the students in choosing recipes. 
  • Keep in mind the various faiths and cultures of your school community and ensure recipes are inclusive and culturally appropriate.
  • Aim for taste and nutrition by including vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein foods.
  • Look for recipes that incorporate seasonal vegetables and produce.
  • Be creative and experiment with new vegetables and fruit.

Tip 3:  Keep it Safe

  • Adhere to the school’s anaphylactic policies and procedures.
  • Review all kitchen safety rules and have a first aid kit on hand.
  • Find out what skills participants already have and what skills they need to learn and/or practice (e.g., holding a knife properly, washing vegetables and fruit, reading a recipe, measuring ingredients). 
  • When cooking with students, the number of students who can safely participate will depend on the recipe, the equipment available and the number of adults available to supervise.  A smaller group may be best until you have an idea of the skill and comfort level among the students in the kitchen, or anytime a recipe calls for a lot of stove-top cooking. 
  • Adults often avoid letting children use knives out of fear, but teaching basic age-appropriate knife skills is extremely important (see the cooksmart knife skills video).  Children have to be confident with a knife to be confident and safe in a kitchen. 

Tip 4: Keep it enjoyable 

  • Allow time for the group to sit down and enjoy the food they have cooked together. Eating together is important. Talk about how things taste and what the cooking was like to help complete the learning experience.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the experience such as learning a new skill or using new ingredients, and avoid pressuring anyone to try something if they don’t want to.