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Getting Your Cooking Club Organized

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Here’s how to get the best results from your cooking club, from food safety to budgeting and more.

All it takes is a little organization and your cooking club becomes pure pleasure. Read on for tips on choosing recipes, budgeting and more...

General tips

  • Decide what recipes and how many recipes your cooking club can prepare in the time allotted. Take into account:
    • The size of kitchen
    • The number of appliances
    • How many people you can easily accommodate in the host kitchen
  • Decide on recipes and email them to everyone participating.
  • Don’t choose all baking recipes if there is only one oven. Do some stovetop cooking as well as baking.
  • Read through chosen recipes to determine what equipment is needed. Due to the size of the recipes, large pots, saucepans, a heavy-duty standing mixer and food processor are all useful. Ask your cooking club members to bring whatever equipment the host kitchen does not have for the chosen recipes.
  • Read through the recipes and decide how many dishes you need to divvy up the final product. The recipes we propose are for 12 servings, to be divided by three or four participants. Ask your cooking club members to bring the appropriate dishes to take their portion home.
  • Either designate one person to do the grocery shopping or divvy up that task.
  • Print off extra copies of the recipes. Make notes on recipes as you go along. Before you start cooking, have everyone read the recipe through to the end.
  • Work on one or two recipes at a time, depending on complexity of the recipe, number of participants, their cooking skills and the size of kitchen.
  • Assemble equipment, ingredients and designate tasks. Be fair, everyone needs to share clean-up duties.
  • Line pans with parchment paper or foil for easy removal.
  • To safely and quickly cool a large amount of soup or chilli, divide into portions and place in bowls (ideally metal). Place in a sink of ice water, up to the level of the soup or chilli and stir often to quicken cooling.
  • Don’t place a large amount of hot food in a refrigerator or freezer at one time. It taxes the appliance and increases the internal temperature of the fridge or freezer. Food will take a long time to cool to safe temperatures.
  • Work in a streamlined manner to complete a recipe as efficiently as possible so you do not have food sitting at room temperature for any length of time.
  • If refrigerator space in limited, bring coolers with ice packs. These will be useful for taking food home.
  • Put on some energetic background music. Enjoy the experience, learn from each other and laugh along the way!

Food safety

Health Canada recommends following these steps to ensure your kitchen remains a safe cooking environment:

  • Clean: wash hands and surfaces often
  • Cook: cook foods to proper temperatures
  • Chill: refrigerate or freeze promptly
  • Separate: don’t cross contaminate

Evaluation

Every now and then, ask members of your group if there is anything about the club they'd like to improve or, more importantly, if everyone likes the recipes! This will help make your cooking club a continued success.

Budgeting

Some groups like to work with a “per serving” or “per person” budget, so they know exactly how much the food will cost. Consult the group to see what they'd like to do. Here are some tips to help you save on food costs:

  • Choose recipes that use similar ingredients so you can consolidate the ingredients you need to buy.
  • Choose recipes that use similar cooking temperatures so you can cook a few things at once.
  • Doubling or tripling recipes can also help, as some ingredients can be bought in bulk.

Special needs cooking clubs

Some people start cooking clubs to cater to special needs, such as young moms who need to prepare healthy baby food, people with gluten allergy or even those with diabetes.

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