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Reasons Why Cooking Should be Compulsory in Schools

by Praveen Kumar

Children are the future of this world. It is important that they learn the right and essential life skills required at the right time (earlier the better) for a better, brighter, and healthier innings.

Knowing what goes inside and how to get a healthy diet was never more important and relevant than it is today!

Stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century and lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are more common today than mankind has ever known before. That is the reason, having the knowledge to choose, select, and make nutritious and healthy meals has emerged as an extremely important life skill in today’s age. A healthy diet is not only essential to boost the immune system and prevent diseases, but it is also critical to career success, controlling medical expenses, and living a happier and quality life.

Cooking with Kids

Start young by making cooking a compulsory discipline right in school. Here’s why:

  • Learn a basic life skill:
    • Cooking is a basic essential life skill that sadly, very few children (teenage students) acquire. Majority of students instead opt for ready-made meals and junk food that have extremely low nutritional value and are laden with harmful fats, calories, sugar, and salts.
    • Studies have shown that students displayed little or no aspiration/interest in cooking or preparing their own meals as a result of lack of knowledge and confidence in the kitchen.
    • By introducing cooking at school levels, students shall get the appropriate motivation and guidance to plan and prepare meals by mastering basic kitchen skills.
  • Embark on a path towards a healthy lifestyle:
    • Take-away fast food items like burgers and pizzas are some of the most popular foods among children – for the obvious taste and easy availability. However, with proper cooking classes in schools, students will understand the nutritional breakdown or classification of foods and understand which nutrients are required for the body to function properly.
    • Equipped with this knowledge and a sound understanding of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the teachers can hope to motivate students to prepare alternative, healthier replacements for take-outs and ready-made meals!
  • Discover a talent or career opportunity:
    • With the exposure to cooking and baking at a younger age, there is a possibility and the potential for students to uncover a hidden culinary talent or to pursue a career in the ever booming global hospitality and catering industry.

A Few Myths Busted

For schools that believe organizing and conducting cooking classes will be cumbersome or take away from precious ‘study time’, here’s busting a few popular myths.

  • Expensive equipment:
    • Portable and compact hotplates are cheaper than cooking stoves, however the teacher/handler should be well aware of all the safety issues when making use of these devices.
    • Request guardians/parents to donate some equipment (but make sure to check the quality of the equipment before actually using it).
    • Plan and organize a fundraising day and then purchase equipment from sources that provide great discounts or sometimes even a few freebies.
  • Wasting ingredients:
    • This could be tricky as measuring the right amount of ingredients may not be possible all the time. As an alternative measure one could order meal kits from Awesomechef.com, as it has the exact right quantity of ingredients packed up for making your cooking easy, stress free and most importantly without any wastage.
  • No adequate trained staff:
    • You don’t need an expert chef to learn cooking from. One-way of teaching cooking to students is to have a confident adult or a parent helper to take out groups from the class and train them.

Why your child MUST undergo cooking lessons along with food and nutrition course in school:

  • Develops students’ thinking and analytical skills, such as planning meals to make smarter and better food choices
  • Helps to assess different nutrient requirements of people in various stages of their life cycle
  • Helps and guides the students to assess the trustworthiness of nutritional claims which are made on the Internet and also reported in the media too
  • Students learn to appreciate the diverse dietary preferences and inclinations of different groups of people around them
  • Helps the students appreciate the outcomes of their food choice on other peopleand the environment too
  • Make students aware of first aid techniques and practices for injuries that may materialize during preparation of food
  • Children will incline to skip processed snack foods and avoid less healthy prepared food as they can prepare their own food more.
  • Students learn essential life skills by practicing basic math skills, like, measuring, weighing, counting, tracking time, etc.
  • Gives them an opportunity to improve their social skills and become a good team player
  • Cooking can aid in children a sense of responsibility. Every child has a task to be completed to contribute towards the meal/food preparation and the cleanup.
  • Research indicates that knowledge on nutrition may not be complete without the experiential and practical learning or hands-on activities connected with preparation of food that involves handling the food ingredients and cooking equipment.
  • Introduce them and help them to familiarize with various career options in the areas of food, nutrition and hospitality

Teaching and helping children to prepare healthy meals is a very important way that schools can help produce healthy adults.

As the saying goes, “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”

Similarly, teach someone to cook their meal and they won’t spend a lifetime eating unhealthy and factory-prepared junk.

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