Cooking Matters' hands-on courses and interactive lessons empower parents and caregivers of children ages 0-5 with the skills to stretch their food dollars and cook healthy, nutritious meals.
Six-week Nutrition-Based Cooking Courses
Courses meet for two hours, once a week for six weeks and are team-taught by a volunteer culinary and nutrition educator. Participants practice fundamental food skills including proper knife techniques, reading ingredient labels, and making healthy meals on a $10 budget. Other support volunteers, such as class assistants, are key to ensuring smooth delivery of our program.
By initiating discussions and introducing activities that build upon participants’ own experiences, instructors create effective learning opportunities. Course participants build confidence in their new skills through active class participation, enabling positive behavior changes in daily life. Classmates also help one another by sharing feedback on each other’s progress. Participants receive ingredients to practice making the class recipes at home, reinforcing nutrition messages and cooking techniques. By using what they learn in class at home, Cooking Matters graduates maximize their food resources, make healthier choices for their families, and prepare balanced, delicious meals. Because proper nutrition is critical for children’s health, development, and ability to learn, acquiring these skills can return important long-term benefits for a family’s physical and economic well-being.
Cooking Matters offers three specialized course curricula:
Cooking Matters for Parents teaches parents how to prepare and shop sensibly for meals on a limited budget while empowering them to raise healthy eaters. Available in English and Spanish.
Cooking Matters for Adults teaches adults how to prepare and shop sensibly for meals on a limited budget. Available in English and Spanish.
Cooking Matters for Families (7-week course) teaches parents and their children (ages 6-12) about healthy eating as a family and the importance of working together to plan and prepare healthy meals on a budget. Includes Cooking Matters at the Store tour during the sixth week of the series. Available in English and Spanish.
Each Cooking Matters course teaches families important lessons about self-sufficiency in the kitchen. Participants practice fundamental lessons including knife skills, reading ingredient labels, and making a healthy meal for a family of four on a $10 budget. All participants receive take-home materials, and participants in the Adults, Parents, and Families courses take home a bag of groceries after each class to practice the recipe and skills learned that day.
Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals
CMCCP teaches in-home and center-based child care professionals to prepare nutritious meals on a budget and create a positive meal environment for the kids in their care. Offered as a one-day course, two half days, or as a series.
This curriculum was confirmed as an approved training by the Colorado Department of Education. This status confirms CMCCP as a professional development opportunity for child care providers based on strong research and evidence-based methodologies and alignment Colorado’s early childhood core competencies for teachers. CMCCP courses also support the State’s efforts in building a strong early childhood education workforce by providing 8 out of 16 annual continuing education credits required from licensed child care providers, as well as up to four Colorado Shines points, Colorado’s quality rating system for early childhood education. Available in English and Spanish.
In response to COVID19, we are now scheduling ONLINE Cooking Matters for Childcare Professionals trainings. If you are interested in scheduling a virtual training for your staff, please contact Amber Troutman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-801-0178.
Interactive Grocery Store Tours
Cooking Matters at the Store tours provide families with a free, interactive educational experience that teaches low-income adults how to get the most nutrition for their food dollars.
Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families. Participants take home a booklet with recipes and shopping tips, a reusable grocery bag, and a $10 gift card. All tours are available in English and Spanish. During the tour, participants practice:
- Buying fruits and vegetables on a budget
- Comparing unit prices
- Reading food labels
- Identifying whole grain foods.
Tours are in different models to fit the needs of the community:
Guided Tours: One-time, 60-90 minute tour for groups of 8-15 participants, ending with a $10 Challenge, an activity where participants practice the skills they’ve just learned to buy a healthy meal for a family of four, for under $10. Guided tours are typically offered in grocery stores.
Pop Up Tours: On-site presentation with visuals for groups under 40 participants who are not able to go to the grocery store, led by 1-2 tour leaders. Optional $10 Challenge available. Length of tours can be accommodated. Examples of groups can include food pantry clients, fitness classes, diabetes education groups, or groups facing transportation and/or childcare barriers.
Station-Model Events: Available in grocery stores or on-site at community agencies as a "pop-up" event for groups of 40+ participants, led by 2-4 facilitators and a team of volunteers. Participants receive a passport and visit 4 nutrition education stations at their own pace. Various event durations may be accommodated.
Tours are led by trained facilitators and assistants - either staff or volunteer - often in collaboration with a community partner that serves families and helps recruit participants. Any community member can be trained to lead tours.
There are a variety of ways that you can help us reach more families
As a tour leader, you can lead tours in your community and across the state.
As a community partner, you can host tours by recruiting participants and/or have organization staff trained to lead tours.
As a supporter, you can help participants practice buying healthy ingredients on a budget through the tour’s $10 Challenge Activity by donating gift cards or organizing/hosting a gift card drive.
In order to serve even more families across the country, Share Our Strength offers free educational tools that build on the proven success of our six-week cooking courses and grocery store tours. They are available for any individual to download and use in their community.
Resources, handouts, and videos available to anyone on topics such as: tips for using herbs and spices, reducing food waste, kid-friendly snack ideas, and ways to make over favorite (though sometimes less healthy) family meals.