So you put in the hard work to get your principal and PTA on board, applied for grants, tested the soil, established beds, and put in a school veggie garden. You've battled pests, diseases, bizarre weather, and you and the school garden have survived. Now you are seeing the fruits, literal and otherwise, of your labor; students are learning in the garden, being curious about the natural world, and now you have a veritable cornucopia of produce. But what do you do with the kohlrabi, arugula, and chard???
This cookbook (and more often, non-cooking book) is designed to prepare fall and spring veggies in your classroom. The following recipes were plucked from the interwebs because they: 1) Use garden produce, 2) have few additional ingredients, 3) can be prepared quickly and without a kitchen, and 4) are easy to serve to students. Most still require some specialized equipment such as a blender or food processor, hot plate, or crockpot, but we tried to keep it simple and provide a range of options where you can find something that meets your needs.
Tips for Cooking in the Classroom
Before you begin perusing recipes that will hopefully switch the staunchest of french-fries-are-the-only-vegetable-I-like eaters to crudite crunching kiddos, here are a few resources on cooking in the classroom, including classroom management and some great alternatives to knives for chopping veggies. Because as a teacher, you are probably stressed enough without knife wielding kindergarteners. Honestly, school children are 100% capable of learning appropriate knife skills, but safety is a must, and most schools do have bans on sharp and pointy objects. Anyway, here are your resources:
- Cooking in the Classroom Best Practices (PDF) - This guide from the Growing Minds program in North Carolina is a very thorough guide to cooking in the classroom, and covers important topics such as food handling safety, curriculum connections, and encouraging healthy attitudes about food.
- Small Hands Catalog - This Montessori supply catalog offers a range of food prep utensils made especially for pre-K and elementary children. Check out the flexible cutting boards, wavy chopper, vegetable chopper, and nylon knife for your veggie prep needs. And of course, what elementary cooking experience is complete without a class set of chef's hats?
- Project Learning Gardens - Check out this Captain Planet site for a phenomenal classroom cooking cart. This cooking cart is basically a complete kitchen that is compact and mobile; you can even use it to cook in the garden!
Food Safety in the Classroom
As much as all teachers deserve more time off, you don't want yourself and your entire class out because you fed them contaminated veggies. Food safety is an essential part of y our cooking experience in the classroom, but remember food safety starts in the garden long before you harvest produce and bring it into your classroom. Read the following guides for best practices handling produce before, after, and during harvest.
- Food Safety for School and Community Gardens (PDF)
- Food Safety Tips for School Gardens (PDF)
- Food Safety in the School Garden (PDF)
School Garden Recipes
Visit the pages linked below for great recipe ideas for you and your students!