Set up healthy cooking classes
Is it possible to eat healthy, tasty food on a shoestring budget? Karin Kozlowski says yes. “It takes planning, but you can cook for less than you’d pay for fast food,” she said.
Karin is a WVU Extension nutrition outreach instructor in the Eastern Panhandle. She teaches a multi-week low-cost, healthy cooking class for the Jefferson Community Ministry food pantry on cooking on a SNAP budget, using vegetables from the pantry’s community garden.
She combines small amounts of higher-cost ingredients (meat, some vegetables) with lower-cost ingredients (rice, beans, other vegetables) for stews, stir-frys, and casseroles with tasty ingredients like herbs, garlic, lemon juice and hot sauce.
In Morgantown, Belinda Nicholas, another Extension outreach instructor, did the same thing: “People need to learn to cook if they’re going to eat healthy on a budget,” she said. So she set up cooking
demonstrations at the Morgantown farmers market, showing people how to stir-fry and make stews, mixing small pieces of meat with fresh vegetables and grain. Seeing how popular her demonstrations were, the Morgantown farmers market set up a permanent cooking station.
The public schools have stopped teaching cooking, Kozlowski noted. “A lot of people just get takeout, because they never learned how to cook and flavor food.”
How about healthy cooking classes in your community?
Click here for a great list of Web sites on cooking on a shoestring budget!
These sites will help you create classes on low-cost healthy cooking …. or help you cook healthy food yourself.
- In addition …
- The national Cooking Matters organization offers first-rate, affordable resources for communities that want to organize cooking schools or demonstrations.
- Contact WVU Extension Service Nutrition Outreach Instructors. Help them schedule cooking demonstrations in venues such as the farmers market, school health classes, or evening classes (see below). It’s their job. If your county doesn’t have an instructor, find out which instructor covers your county.
- Family Cook Productions: This Web site has it all: blueprints for community and school cooking classes, tips for teaching kids to cook healthy food at home, etc. etc.
- Kids Rock Nutrition in the Kitchen. A great collection of video recipes, cookbooks, and other resources for kids.
- Body Works: Twice a year in Martinsburg, a coalition of groups offers this eight-week cooking course for parents and teenagers, free from the Office on Womens Health. The course helps mothers learn cooking skills and ways to create a home environment that fosters healthier habits.
- The US Department of Agriculture has a first-class collection of resources, curriculum, recipes and lesson plans for adults and kids.
- Want affordable, tasty alternatives to soda pop? Water is a good start. Also try tasty fruit-infused water recipes and others at Pinterest.
- See the Try This page on gardening in schools for ideas about combining gardening and cooking.
Here are some ways WV communities have held classes or demos:
- Classes at a medical clinic. In Charleston, West Virginia Health Right, a free clinic, offers popular healthy cooking classes. Volunteers give one-time cooking demonstrations, hand out recipes and lead lively discussions. People give each other tips.
- Classes at farmers markets: Google “cooking classes farmers market” and find all kinds of great ideas. And watch for the cooking classes at http://www.morgantownfarmers.org
- Classes in food stores. In Huntington, The Wild Ramp runs a “Let’s Cook Local” series, featuring ways to flavor with fresh herbs. https://www.facebook.com/HuntingtonLocalFoodMarket
- A community kitchen. Healthy cooking classes are offered regularly at Huntington’s Kitchen, a community kitchen.
- Classes at a food pantry:
- Jefferson County Community Ministries raises fresh food at a community garden, then teaches people how to prepare it. http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/22538350/jefferson-county-groups-build-community-garden
- Catholic Charities sponsors the WellnessWorks program which offers nutrition coaching, medical screening and a monthly newsletter.
- Demos at libraries: See photo this page.
- Classes on cooking/food preservation at community centers:
- Dining with Diabetes – WVU Extension offers this diabetic cooking class in various counties. Check with your agent. .
- Teach kids simple ways to cook food they grow:
- Here’s an article about the cooking part of North School’s garden program: “Revolutionizing Learning Through School Garden Programs”
- Ingredient: A Magazine for Kids Curious about Cooking:
Want to build a broad, more sustained effort to spread cooking skills?
- Join your local school Wellness Council. That gives you an official way to campaign for cooking classes.
- How can your school system teach nutritious cooking? Maybe in health class, maybe collaborating with Extension. The resources above can help.
- Involve your local media. Ask if they’d run a series of low-cost, healthy recipes with a column that helps people learn how to cook healthy food on a shoestring budget and make food ahead. They could draw from the materials in the above Web sites for columns.
- Involve WVU Extension Service. Extension has nutrition outreach instructors who can help arrange classes and supply materials.
- Sponsor a multi-agency healthy cooking campaign. Idea: Invite submissions for a local cookbook. Idea: Combine cooking classes with a community walking program. Here’s a great example of a local campaign: http://www.thiscityisgoingonadiet.com
- Here’s an idea-packed article from Charleston, SC: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/from-farmers-markets-to-cooking-classes-schools-are-helping-families-grow-better-eating-habits/Content?oid=4625521
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