The last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at how to equip youth for the real world by teaching them life skills. Today’s youth work session plan idea is a life skill that I think is one of the most vital we can teach youth – meal planning. (See tomorrow’s post for why I think this is so important)
Meal planning is such a broad subject that you could actually do many youth work sessions on it. Here are some suggestions:
- Food preparation (in terms of handling uncooked meat and fish, using different chopping boards, etc)
- Food storage
- Which foods should be kept on which shelves of a refrigerator
- How long leftovers should be kept for
- The difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best by’ dates on food packaging
- Not refreezing foods that have already defrosted
- How to safely chop food
- How to follow recipes
- Remembering to turn on the oven before starting
- Timing your preparation so ingredients are ready when needed
- Different types of measurements (e.g. cup, teaspoon, oz, etc)
- Even seemingly basic things, like how to peel carrots and potatoes
- Different food groups
- Different types of vitamins and minerals and which foods they can be found in
- Reading nutritional information on labels
- Recommended daily intake of calories, fat, vitamins, etc for youth
- Compare the nutritional content of different meals, especially regarding calories and fat
- The difference between baking, boiling, roasting, steaming, frying, grilling, etc
- How to do each of these cooking methods
- How long different foods take to cook
- Learning how to start cooking different items at different times, so that they finish cooking at the same time
- Cooking in large batches so that they can freeze down leftovers (and what foods aren’t suitable for this)
If you don’t feel qualified to lead a youth work session about meal planning – perhaps because you don’t know answers to any of the above points yourself! – then why not ask an expert to help? When working in Thailand, Shae was able to take her youth to a restaurant where they learned about food preparation. Otherwise, do you know any cooks or chefs that could come in and lead these youth work sessions?
After you’ve run a series of meal planning youth work sessions – and if you have a kitchen on site – finish off the series with a Ready Steady Cook style competition. Youth are given a bagful of ingredients and have to prepare one or more dishes using their imaginations. They then get to taste each other’s dishes and vote on whose tastes best. If you have money in the budget, consider offering some kind of restaurant gift card to the winner.
You can watch Ready Steady Cook on Youtube – you could even play an episode during a meal planning youth work session before the competition to give them an idea of how it works.
Question: Have you ever run cooking and meal planning youth work sessions? If so, how did you do it? Let us know in the comments below.
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