Developing and Maintaining Healthy Routines: Basic Cooking

Family Modules

Module 5 Part 2



Objective: The student will plan and cook a nutritious meal for his or her family.

This lesson is designed to prepare you to cook a simple meal. Even though many first‐year college students rarely cook because they have meal plans, cooking is still an important skill to develop before you leave home. If you live off campus, you’re likely to need to cook on a somewhat regular basis.

Estimated time Time needed to plan a meal, buy groceries, cook, and clean up.

Materials needed:

Curriculum Link:

This section corresponds with Module 5 Activity 1 in the College Bound Transition curriculum resources.

How to Cook Pasta Perfectly

Learn About It

Cooking 101

Basic cooking skills include the ability to:

  • Understand basic nutrition and identify healthy meal options
  • Follow simple recipes and understand cooking instructions and terms
  • Learn about food safety and kitchen safety.

If you do not already have these skills, start hanging around the kitchen and asking questions when your family prepares meals! You don’t need to become a gourmet chef before you go to college; some basic cooking skills will suffice. After all, you do want to eat, and the dining hall may not appeal to you for every meal!

An ad from the 1950's for soup.

Cooking Activity

  1. Ask your parent (or whoever cooks in your family) to help you choose a nutritious meal to cook for your family.
  2. Prepare and serve the meal on your own (with a little guidance, if needed).
  3. Do not forget that cleaning up after yourself is part of cooking!
  4. After cooking your meal, add the menu, recipes, and ingredient list(s) to your journal.

Journal Entry

Using your journal from the Transition Notebook that you created in Module 1, reflect on the experience of cooking your meal.

  • What meal did you select and why?
  • Was this a nutritious meal? Why or why not?
  • What did you learn?
  • How did taking on this responsibility impact you?
  • What was your family’s reaction to your meal?
  • What other meals could you learn to prepare before going to college?
A stack of notebooks.

Parents Chime In

Some children already cook meals for themselves or their families; others have hardly ever used a stove. Adapt this activity for the skill level of your child. For example, if your child has more experience, he or she may not need parental guidance to get started; with less experience, he or she may need to be walked through the entire process.

Help to find a recipe that would be simple enough for your student to prepare on his or her own at college. Let your student do the grocery shopping and the cleanup. It will be a nice treat for you!

Objective Check

Have you accomplished today's objective?

Objective: The student will plan and cook a nutritious meal for his or her family.

If so, congratulations!

If not, work with your parent (or another person who regularly cooks) to plan and prepare another meal. Plan and cook at least one meal each month until you leave for college. It takes practice to become a good cook!

Digging Deeper

  • Make a “cookbook” of inexpensive meals that use limited and nutritious ingredients.
  • Create a Pinterest account and search for “college cooking recipes” for some great tips and inexpensive meals that require few ingredients.
  • Or just Google “college cooking” to see what you can find.
  • Try lots of new recipes—it can be fun!