Overview: Students brainstorm ways to save time and money on dinner preparation and discuss why people might want to do so. They practice planning an economical and efficient menu for at least five working days, and prepare at least one of their planned meals.
Subject: 21st Century Skills: Family & Consumer Sciences
Grades: 10th, 11th, 12th
Duration: 3 class periods, 2 cooking labs (optional)
Related Concepts: Home Economics, Nutrition, Meal Planning, Budgeting, Economics
Students will be able to:
Analyze examples of tight budgets and find opportunities to plan low-budget meals.
Synthesize knowledge of nutrition, budgeting, and cooking with a five-day menu suitable for a working adult.
Essential Questions: Why do I need to learn to cook on a budget? How can I be sure my meals are balanced and nutritious?
Vocabulary: budget, nutrition, calories, vitamins, ingredients, cooking terms related to chosen recipes, such as broil, slow cook, braise, sear, etc.
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Speaking & Listening:
- SL.9-10.1, 2, 3, 4
- SL.11-12.1, 2, 3, 4
- ELA: Writing:
- W.9-10.1, 2, 4, 5, 6
- W.11-12.1, 2, 4, 5, 6
- Recipe books or online articles
- Cooking ingredients
- Cooking equipment (pots/pans/bowls/etc)
- Access to stove/oven/crockpot/other cooking appliances
- Projection system
- Internet access
- Student computers
In a writing or discussion prompt, ask students how they plan to feed themselves when they are at college or living on their own. Carry out/fast food? Cooking dinner like mom or dad does? Using prepackaged convenience foods such as frozen pizza, box dinners, and so forth? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of food? Write their responses on a classroom display.
Ask students to describe situations where young adults might need to create meals on a tight budget (Possible answers include when there are lots of bills, when a person is not working, when a job is low-paying, when a person is saving money for a large purchase such as a car or a house). Ask students when a young adult might need to prepare meals in short amounts of time (Possible answers include when working two jobs, when the schedule is tight, when there are sports practices or meetings after dinner, when the person gets home later than expected). Tell students that there are many situations where young adults might need the skills to create a meal on a tight budget and/or in a short amount of time. Ask the group what skills/supplies would be needed to accomplish those two aspects of meals. Make a list. Some responses might include recipes with inexpensive ingredients, recipes for crock pots, InstaPots, microwave, etc.
Begin with an overview of nutrition. Have students make a list of characteristics of nutritious meals (sample answers include balanced portions, high in vegetables and grains, low on meats and fats, low calorie, low cholesterol, etc.). Watch related videos such as Part One and Part Two of Understanding Food: Nutrition.
Divide students into work groups of 3-5 students. Use a grocery guide for instructing students about shopping on a budget.
(End of Day 1 and all of Day 2)
Share an example of low-cost food preparation, explaining that eggs are an economical source of protein. Have students refer back to the class list brainstormed earlier in the lesson for other ideas of economical meals.
Have work groups brainstorm and research a balanced meal plan for five dinners suitable for quick preparation and low-budget costs. Use favorite recipe sites and cookbooks as resources. Create a menu for the meals and write an explanation of what was chosen with justification. This short essay should include information about what makes these meals appropriate for a low budget and/or quick preparation. It should also explain how each meal is nutritionally sound and balanced. Have them choose one of the meals from their list and create a grocery list and a supply list of needed staples and cooking equipment.
Note: The lesson can stop here for a full and accurate assessment, or it can go on to a meal preparation activity if you have access to the necessary materials.
Have student work groups present and/or serve their chosen and prepared meal to their peers.
- Look over the student plans for the assigned dinner menus. Evaluate their work for nutritional value and balance, staying within their budget, recipes, and the leftover plan. Evaluate students' explanations and make sure they covered all points in defending their plans.
Plan a special lesson for ESL students on common cooking terms, such as preheat, baste, combine, nutrition, etc.
If there are no lab kitchen facilities available, alternative ideas include preparing foods at home, using the school cafeteria kitchen, using a hot plate, crock pot, or other countertop cooking devices if allowed in facility.
Accommodate kinesthetic learners by planning additional hands-on practice for the required cooking skills.
Increase the allotted time for these lessons for special needs learners, such as teaching the series over the course of two weeks instead of a week.
Have advanced students create a cookbook with a specific theme related to cooking on a budget.
Lab Practice: In the kitchen, have student work groups choose and prepare their chosen meal. (Days 3 and 4, 2 hour lab periods)
Plan a class or group trip to the grocery store, and purchase the needed ingredients for one meal. Cook the meal for the group.
Use the lesson plans from Consumerism - Grocery Shopping to learn about efficient and effective grocery shopping strategies. - Have students make a list of dishes that use a specific key ingredient that is economical, such as rice, beans, eggs, or tomato base.
Additional materials to guide your teaching:
- Consumerism: Grocery Shopping
- Introduction to Nutrition
- Lesson Plan: Omelette Cooking Principles
- Understanding Food- Nutrition, Part 1 of 2
- Understanding Food- Nutrition, Part 2 of 2
- Nutrition Resources
- Choosing Healthy Food Resources
- Meals on a Budget Resources
- Consumer Education Resources
- Home Economics Resources