If cooking seems like more of a chore than a fun bonding activity with your children, you’re not alone. It’s difficult to prepare three healthy and balanced meals a day for yourself and your family. You have to find recipes, buy groceries, prepare the food, cook the meals and serve them. It’s enough to make you want to order in or dine out every meal.
Enter FSGV-led Community Kitchens—community-based cooking programs that make feeding your family a lot easier and more fun. You work with a team of other parents to prepare food, then take it home to your family. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn healthy eating habits and develop skills to prepare nutritious, affordable, and delicious dishes at home.
Here are some of the many benefits of community kitchens for parents:
Healthy food consumption
Community Kitchens are great for not only eating nutritious meals, but also learning how to make them. You can learn how to read food labels, plan nutritious meals, and determine appropriate portion sizes. The best part is you’ll develop skills that will last a lifetime and be able to use them at home with your family.
Here is an example of one of the simple, healthy recipes you would make in a community kitchen for tabouli, a traditional Middle Eastern salad:
- 2 cups cracked wheat (bulgur)
- 2 cups very hot water
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 2 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bunch (about 8) green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
- 2 cups fresh chopped parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When it’s ready, drain any excess water, if necessary, and squeeze dry.
- Meantime, prepare the vegetables for the salad and mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
- Stir the prepared wheat, other salad ingredients, and dressing together in a medium bowl.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 8 cups (12–16 servings).
In addition to learning valuable cooking skills and gaining knowledge about nutrition, Community Kitchens will help you learn how to budget and shop smarter. You’ll find out how to prepare meals for your entire family with whatever finances you have and get tips like using frozen vegetables instead of canned or fresh. If seeing your receipt from the grocery store gives you anxiety, this is a definite benefit.
Confidence in the kitchen
Community Kitchens are a great way to gain confidence in the kitchen. Preparing meals for your family can be a bit intimidating but once you’ve learned about nutrition and budget, it makes the process a lot easier. Cooking in a nurturing environment with other like-minded people is a great way to learn. You’ll also be able to try new foods or work with recipes you’ve never seen before. After a few sessions in a Community Kitchen, you’ll feel more comfortable in your own kitchen.
On top of everything, Community Kitchens are a fantastic way to meet new people and make friends with the other participants. You can bond over being parents and share tips and advice. You might even find a new babysitter or set up a play date for your little one. This is also a great atmosphere to improve your English skills if English isn’t your first language.
“Community Kitchens made cooking more fun and I learned to cook with ingredients I wasn’t familiar with,” says Maylen Crespo, a former Community Kitchen participant, and now a Lead of FSGV’s New Westminster programs. “One learns so much about other people’s experiences with cooking and life itself, it makes you feel you are part of a team. Because the staff is very welcoming, I remember looking forward to my cooking sessions.”
If you want to reap the benefits of a Community Kitchen, sign up for the fall sessions of FSGV’s Community Kitchen for Parents of Young Children. It runs on Wednesdays from September 19 to November 21. To register, call 604-525-9144 ext. 3636, 604-368-2154, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Make friends, learn recipes, and cook healthy meals!