Homeschool Cooking Curriculum: Tips & Project Ideas

Engaging kids in the kitchen goes beyond food preparation. Here’s how to incorporate cooking into your weekly lesson plans.

Prisma Staff
April 6, 2023

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Engaging kids in the kitchen goes beyond food preparation. Here’s how to incorporate cooking into your weekly lesson plans.

When your classroom is in your house, learning doesn’t have to be confined to a desk. One of the biggest perks of learning from home is access to a full-sized kitchen and, with it, infinite possibilities for incorporating cooking lessons into your homeschool curriculum.

It’s no overstatement that a cooking class can intersect with any subject your child is exploring: math, chemistry, business, culture, health, and the environment, to name a few. For parents looking to take a hands-on approach with real world relevance, cooking is just about the perfect laboratory to design engaging projects that allow kids to build confidence as they express their creativity.

Here are some ways to approach cooking as part of your homeschooling — for a range of age groups and skill levels.

Why cooking?

We’ll get to how we recommend using cooking in a minute. First, though, before you dive into a cooking-based project, ask yourself: What are your goals? Are you in the kitchen to teach your kids cooking skills or expand their interest in healthy food? To find a way to get kids excited about a subject they don’t love? To get them comfortable trying something new and develop a growth mindset?

As you identify your goals, keep them front and center; that will help you narrow down on your approach and avoid conflicting aims. For example, if you are having your child cook as part of a homeschool lesson on math, keep the recipe itself super simple so they can focus on fractions and not get distracted.


How cooking can enhance your homeschool curriculum

Learn about different cultures

Understanding the traditional foods of a country is one of the best ways to understand its cultures and its natural resources. As part of our “Model UN” theme, each learner researched and prepared a dish from their chosen country — and added the recipe to a school-wide recipe book.

Teach nutrition

Research shows when kids learn to cook real food, they’ll be more likely to incorporate it into their diet. Create a mission for your kids to cook a meal (or assemble a snack) using different types of food. Have them compare the differences in taste, texture, and how the food makes them feel afterwards (energy levels, hunger, thirst, etc.).

Foster entrepreneurial thinking

The kitchen is a perfect setting for teaching kids to create their own business. A kid who wants to consider scaling their muffin side-hustle will want to do lots of market research, price ingredients, consider a marketing strategy and, above all, practice, practice, practice. (Free samples, anyone?)

Tap into your inner scientist

Tweaking recipes is a great way to understand the chemistry of food. What happens if we halve the sugar or double the fats? How important are the rising agents? Is it safe to swap different foods in a pinch? What if we change the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients? In our “Food Lab,” our learners experience food science first-hand, as they use the scientific method to conduct food experiments on their favorite recipes.

Tackle growth areas

There’s room for everyone in the kitchen, the free spirits and the rule-followers alike. For kids who just need to kick loose, use cooking to help them break some figurative eggs: encourage them to try a “create your own recipe” challenge, no worksheets or printables needed. On the flip side, for kids who are working on developing executive function, go for step-by-step instructions, celebrating when they complete each step (clean up included!).

For Prisma coach Lauren Green, the cooking enrichment club she created is a way for her to help learners grow in a low-pressure environment; as the Coach, she receives similar benefits herself:

“I chose to create a cooking enrichment because I am always wanting to try out recipes, but am frankly not the best cook and never dedicate the time to this. For Prisma, I find it to be a fun way to socialize without the pressure school lessons can bring. We are all there to have fun, laugh at our mistakes, and have the instant gratification of creating something we get to consume,” Green says. “I've always found that allowing kids to have full reign of a kitchen brings out a different side of learning. The self-confidence students get from being trusted (in a safe and guided way) is huge!”

Cooking projects for homeschoolers

Cooking-based projects can take many forms, beyond the delicious food your child cooks up. Use the kitchen as a launch pad to try the following activities for all age levels:

  1. Plan, script and record an episode of a cooking show. (Don’t forget to schedule a watch party!)
  2. Create a cooking competition, modeled after your favorite cooking reality TV show
  3. Organize a neighborhood multicultural potluck
  4. Make a meal with the smallest amount of waste possible
  5. Get baking lessons on a video call to bond with a far-away relative or friend
  6. Create a family cookbook, including cooking tips
  7. Write a proposal for a cooking business, including the projected costs and profit margins, as well as market research. (Don’t forget sample projects!)

Things to think about before getting started

Whatever you choose to do, we recommend you start small. You know your kids better than anyone, so make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew. By the same token, kids (even young children) need elbow room, so once you see they can handle a task supervised a few times and have mastered things like food safety, etc., step back and give them a decently wide berth.

When we teach kitchen skills as part of our Prisma High School Life Skills class, we send students on beginner missions first (for example, locating utensils in the kitchen, learning basic skills, etc.) and then up the complexity once they get confident (prepare a dish that involves chopping, sauteing, etc.).

Once you’ve wrapped up your lesson, the real bonus is when the learning continues beyond the unit study. Whatever your kids learn, they’ll be more likely to absorb if they get ample chance to repeat them. It’s fun to make a yearly holiday meal for the whole family, but to develop real kitchen skills, a weekly (or daily) ritual might be more effective.

Give your child the job of prepping a weekly meal, organizing snacks, or contributing a soup or salad to dinner — clean up too!

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