The following cooking ideas require some type of heat source to prepare the foods. Some programs may be able to prepare foods in the classroom, then give the uncooked mix to the food service specialist for baking. (Children should not be taken into the facility’s kitchen.) Other options may be available if you are able to bring portable appliances into the classroom, such as a toaster oven.
Here are a few cooking ideas that you could explore with children:
Soups – Soups can be cooked in a crock pot or prepared in the classroom and then moved to the kitchen for heating. There are endless soup recipes to explore.
Pancakes and waffles– Use whole grain flour to create healthy options. Children can decorate their pancakes with fruit rather than syrup. An electric skillet may be an option for cooking pancakes with children as it will allow them to observe what happens to the batter when heat is applied. Use a waffle maker to cook waffles and provide a variety of fruits and healthy options to top them off.
Pizza and Stromboli – Encourage children to create unique mini pizza pies, then cook them in the kitchen or in a toaster oven. You could use English muffins, pita, or premade crust products, or make your own crust from scratch. Children can work in cooperative teams to decide on the ingredients they put in their “Friendship Stromboli” then sit together and enjoy it once it is cooked.
Soft pretzels – This is another recipe that can be prepared in the classroom and cooked in the kitchen or in a toaster oven. Many healthy ingredients can be used in the dough or as toppings for the pretzels.
Muffins and breads – There are many healthy and tasty whole grain recipes for muffins and breads. Consider options that include vegetables or fruits such as zucchini or chopped apples. Add oats and seeds for additional nutrition.
Chili and casseroles – While younger children may not like the idea of casseroles, they may be more willing to try them if they see the ingredients that go into the dish. Older children may enjoy trying different chili recipes, too. These could be made in a crock pot or the facility’s kitchen.
Pies – Pies are not just for fruit. There are many meat, bean, and vegetable recipes to try! Mini pies allow children to work independently or in small groups to create delicious pies.
DIY dried fruits – If you have access to a food dehydrator, you can create your own dried fruits, including bananas, apples, peaches, pineapples, and strawberries. You could even make your own fruit roll-ups from completely natural ingredients. Try with peaches – they are delicious!
Within each of these categories, there are many opportunities to explore foods from different cultures and regions of the world. Ask families to share some of their favorite recipes so that you can incorporate a bit of home into the classroom environment.