Cooking curriculum for youth

Looking for a hands-on way to teach youth about cooking? Consider cooking curriculums that engage youth in learning and raise their excitement in food and nutrition.

“Junior Iron Chef” and other cooking shows have become popular with youth over the past few years. Parents or adults might be wondering how we can teach youth about cooking in a fun and engaging way. Let’s explore two different curriculums that are designed for youth to learn and get excited about cooking.

The first curriculum is 4-H Cooking 101, 201, 301 and 401 from the National 4-H Council. This 4-H Cooking series teaches youth about food preparation, food and kitchen safety, food science, meal planning and nutrition. Each manual builds on the skills learned in the previous level, and members complete project activities for each level. All project recipes have been tested by University of Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness educators. National 4-H also offers a pin to purchase and give youth that have completed this series. The curriculum comes with a Cooking Helper’s Guide and can be purchased in pieces or together as a kit.

The next curriculum is Cooking Matters for Teens and Kids. The Cooking Matters curriculum comes from a national initiative called No Kid Hungry, where they have developed a set of experiences and curriculums that are designed to help families, parents and youth about cooking and stretching their food dollars.

Each six-week Cooking Matters course teaches kids, families and parents important lessons about self-sufficiency in the kitchen. Participants practice fundamental lessons including knife skills, reading ingredient labels, cutting up a whole chicken and making a healthy meal for a family of four on a $10 budget. In most classes, adults and teens take home a bag of groceries so they can practice the recipe taught that day.

Michigan State University Extension staff is trained to teach these classes in communities in Michigan. If you are interested in getting involved in a Cooking Matters class in your area or learning more about 4-H and healthy living programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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