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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)
  • 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

  • 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

Where to go for more advice


Affordable, healthy recipes

Note: many of the guides and toolkits above also include recipes
  • Munch Crunch 2: Recipes 4 Change (NHS Ayrshire and Arran 2010)
  • Chat and Chaat: South Asian recipes from groups based in and around Edinburgh (CFHS and NHS Lothian 2012)
  • Easy Cooking for You (PDF): developed by Glasgow City and East Dunbartonshire Community Health Partnerships (CHPs) and the University of Glasgow (2012)

Pictorial recipes and accessible healthy eating information

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