Families in the Kitchen: Cooking, Learning, and Bonding Together

Cooking is not just about preparing food; it’s an opportunity for families to come together, learn, and enjoy nutritious meals. The “Families in the Kitchen…Cook Together, Eat Together” program and book, developed by the Nutrition Education Program (NEP) at the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service, aims to make this experience accessible and enjoyable for limited-resource families who are eligible for or receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Why This Program Matters

Kentucky faces unique challenges, with a higher poverty rate and more SNAP beneficiaries compared to the national average. Many Kentucky families struggle to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for essential nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A. This program steps in to address these nutritional gaps and more.

Research from Rutgers University suggests that family meals are healthier, featuring more nutritious foods and fewer unhealthy snacks. Family meals also contribute to quality family time, reducing depression and strengthening family bonds. By fostering family cooking experiences, this program aims to improve the health and well-being of participants.

Program Objectives

The “Families in the Kitchen…Cook Together, Eat Together,” program focuses on several key learning objectives:

  1. Improving Diet Quality: Participants learn to create meals rich in essential nutrients, boosting their overall health.
  2. Increasing Physical Activity: While the program centers on cooking, it also encourages physical activity as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Enhancing Food Safety Practices: Families gain knowledge about safe food handling and storage, preventing foodborne illnesses.
  4. Improving Food Resource Management: Participants learn how to manage their food resources efficiently, making the most of their budgets.
  5. Boosting Food Preparation Skills: Cooking skills are at the heart of this program, with hands-on experiences for participants to enhance their culinary abilities.

What to Expect from “Cooking Social” Lessons

The program offers “Cooking Social” lessons designed to make cooking fun, educational, and valuable for families. By participating in these sessions, families can expect the following benefits:

  • Increased Confidence: Participants gain confidence in preparing healthy, delicious, and budget-friendly meals.
  • More Family Meals: Families will find themselves sharing more meals together, fostering stronger bonds.
  • Enhanced Frequency of Family Cooking: The program encourages families to cook together more often, creating lasting memories.
  • Earn a Cookbook: Upon completing the KYNEP program, families receive a special reward: the “Cook Together…Eat Together” hardcover cookbook. This valuable resource includes:
    • Healthy Eating Tips: Discover how to eat healthily and shop on a budget.
    • Nutrition Facts Label Guide: Learn how to decipher nutrition labels while shopping.
    • Farmers’ Market Shopping Tips: Find out how to make the most of your budget when shopping at farmers’ markets.
    • The book is divided into chapters corresponding to the lessons taught during the program, featuring all the recipes used. It also includes a helpful appendix with guidance on youth-friendly cooking tasks, portion sizes, measuring and substitutions, knife skills, using herbs and spices, roasting chicken, and preparing eggs in eight different ways.

Get Involved

Are you interested in joining the “Families in the Kitchen, Cook Together, Eat Together” program? Contact your County’s Extension Office to inquire about program availability. Plus, you can purchase the “Cook Together…Eat Together” cookbook through this link.

Incorporate this program and strategies from our cookbook into your family’s life, and you’ll not only enjoy delicious meals but also create lasting memories and build healthier, happier lives together. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your loved ones, and embark on a journey of cooking, learning, and bonding.

Reference: “Families in the Kitchen…Cook Together, Eat Together” Curriculum Outline and Materials