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Community cooking sessions

Many community food initiatives (CFIs) offer cooking sessions on learning to prepare affordable, healthy meals. If your project is planning to offer sessions or courses, below are some guides and toolkits to help you, together with reports on what other CFIs have learned. Many of the guides and toolkits include recipes but there are more in ‘Resources’ below, together with pictorial recipe books.

You’ll need an experienced or trained volunteer or staff member and a suitable kitchen to run sessions. If you don’t have these, there may be a project in your area that can deliver the sessions for you, and we list some that we know about below. It’s also worthwhile contacting your local NHS Health Improvement Team, Dietetic Department or Health Promotion workers to find out about cooking courses or trainers in your area.

Some areas have bespoke training kitchens available to hire, however cooking sessions can be run without access to a training or catering kitchen. Our publication What’s Cooking in Scotland? Part One provides examples of how some groups run cooking sessions with limited facilities, and has information about health and safety issues.

Guides and toolkits

  • Good Food Handbook: setting up and running a cooking class, recipes, menu planning and food budgeting (Cyrenians 2012)
  • Healthy Cooking in the Community: a comprehensive manual for the delivery of practical cooking sessions to encourage healthier eating; includes recipes (NHS Ayrshire and Arran 2010)
  • Food Lovers save money: cooking classes toolkit (Love Food Hate Waste 2012)
  • Healthy Eating, Healthy Living: trainers’ pack for teaching healthy eating messages for people with a range of learning disabilities (Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability and the Glasgow Learning Disability Partnership)
  • Cooking in the Community in 5 Easy Steps: manual developed by Community Food Workers in Fife (Fife Community Food Project 2012)
  • Ready, Steady, Ping! Microwave cooking resource developed by NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council Joint Health Improvement Team (2015).

Learning from other projects

  • Cookery skills: case studies section on this website
  • Chopping and changing: Evidence and ideas to improve the impact of your cooking skills courses
  • Just getting on with it: How cooking skills courses in Scotland support people who are experiencing food insecurity (CFHS 2017)
  • What’s Cooking in Scotland, Part One: how Scotland’s community food initiatives are addressing the challenges of setting up cookery courses within low-income communities, provides case studies of community cookery courses (CFHS 2012)
  • What’s Cooking in Scotland, Part Two: how community food initiatives are finding out about the impact of cookery courses, provides case studies of how community cookery courses are evaluated. (CFHS 2012)
  • What’s Cooking in Scotland, Part Three: tools and ideas to help you critically appraise your cooking skills courses (CFHS 2016)
  • TV Dinners: adapting TV formats to promote healthy eating and cookery skills (CFHS 2011)
  • Beyond Smoothies: developing cooking and healthy eating activities for young people (CFHS 2010)

Where to go for cookery sessions and courses

Many community organisations across Scotland run occasional cooking sessions for people that use their services. The following organisations provide cooking courses on a more regular basis to a wide range of groups. Some courses may be available for individuals to attend.

Where to go for more advice


Affordable, healthy recipes

Note: many of the guides and toolkits above also include recipes

Pictorial and video recipes

Food safety information and videos

For more cooking resources view the full cooking section in our library here.