Nutrition in the Kitchen: 5 Teaching Tips

By Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN

Let’s face it, nutrition science may not always be the most thrilling topic, but even a small dose of nourishment insight can yield tremendous benefits. How do we transform essential knowledge into valued wisdom for our children with the aim of revolutionizing their relationship with food?

The kitchen has forever been my own personal sanctuary, where I've explored a rich array of wholesome ingredients, uncovering their textures, flavors, and even their medicinal virtues. It's a place where the horizon of possibilities stretches endlessly, and creativity knows no bounds. It’s a place of learning, of healing, of transformation.

Hence, in 2003, after graduating from culinary school and earning my Masters of Science in Nutrition Education, leveraging the kitchen both as my platform and classroom felt like second nature. Fortunately, a study in 2019 confirmed that active learning surpasses traditional methods.

So how can you teach nutrition in your kitchen in a way that will create healthy foundations? Roll up your sleeves, kids of all ages in tow, and use these 5 tips as guidance:

Pantry Rehab (Activity)

Begin by assessing the current contents of your pantry. Read labels and take note of highly processed foods—foods containing excess sugar and fat as well as anything chemical and artificial like preservatives, colors, flavors, and sugars. Then, clear out the junk!

Nutrition Learning: Reading and understanding food labels, namely ingredients, is a surefire way of gaining insight into unhealthy vs. healthy.

Food Shopping (Activity)

Take a trip to the grocery store and replace the junk with the “better for you alternatives”. Trust me, these days there is a not so evil twin for anything edible.

Nutrition Learning: Noting that the banners on the boxes and bags are mostly hype and a way to push products on consumers is essential. Ingredient labels tell the true story of a food so reinforcing label reading is necessary. 

Recipe Rehab (Activity)

Pick your favorite family recipes and start swapping for healthier ingredients. Substitutions is an app that can help you do that! Don’t overwhelm, begin with one recipe per week!

Nutrition Learning: Whether to increase the nutrition density of a dish, reduce fat and sugar or accommodate special dietary needs, you will learn how to prepare food with maximum health benefits. 

Get Cooking (Activity)

Explore our healthy recipes as a starting point, watch the videos, download the recipes, go food shopping and cook away. Since our library is still very young, here are a few of our favorite go-tos:

Nutrition Learning: Regular exposure to cooking with healthy ingredients improves food vocabulary, food acceptance, builds skills in the kitchen and expands palates. 

Mealtime + Mantras (Activity)

Create mealtime jobs from table setting to food plating and clean up. Once seated at the table, and everyone has their portioned plate, begin your mantra. In our house we go around the table with: What’s your worst part of the day? What’s your best part of the day? What are you grateful for?

Nutrition Learning: Mealtime can be a robust learning experience from portion sizing to building connection and community, all vital parts of nourishment. 

Hopefully this gives you a jump start! What The Fork Are You Eating can also help with this process. If interested in a virtual workshop that focuses on turning your kitchen into a classroom, please email

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