I think that this is perfect for the “Kids in the Kitchen” series since the field trips will get your kids interested and exposed to food. Plus I am sure by now, the kids could use a break from the house.
After I started working on this I realized I had so many different foodie field trips and destinations to talk about that I am going to break this up into two (maybe three) blog posts. First up are foodie field trips you can take no matter what part of the country you live. The next post will be specific food destinations that maybe in your own city or may require the use of a plane, train or automobile to get there!
These are all great outings that kids of all ages will enjoy!
Specialty Grocery Store or Food Shop- While this might be the obvious or not so obvious option for a foodie field trip, it is a great free and educational place to go. Take a few hours to leisurely browse a specialty grocery store or food shop. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market all have foods and ingredients that you and your child maybe unfamiliar with and are fun to explore. Many of these stores sell an assortment of spices, nuts, grains, sugar, etc. in bulk bins, which allows you to see these products out of the standard packaging and buy as much or as little as need, making it perfect to try something new. Browse these stores and choose an ingredient that you and your child can take home, research, and make a new recipe using. Most specialty grocery stores usually have nut grinders, making it possible to have fresh ground nut butters to take home. Children will have fun watching whole nuts ‘magically’ transform into nut butter right before their eyes.
Also check your local city and see if there are specialty food stores or shops. Some of these specialize in ingredients (like a spice shop) or cooking/baking tools (William Sonoma or Sur La Table). These stores sell fun kitchen gadgets and usually have quite the selection of kids tools and cookbooks.
If a specialty store is out of reach, turn a trip to your local store into a fun experience. As I mentioned in my past kids cookingseries, a trip to the grocery store can be very educational for kids. Make the shopping list into a scavenger hunt, allowing older kids to go search for ingredients. Or play grocery ABC’s by finding a food that starts with every letter of the alphabet. Make a point to find foods for every color of the rainbow or find as many foods as possible in different shapes (ie: Triangle- strawberry, Circle- onion). Also check with your local store’s manager and see if they offer tours for small groups (such as boy/girl scouts, preschool groups, homeschool groups, etc.) or have child size shopping carts for use.
Farmer’s Market- I have vivid memories of visiting the farmer’s market as a kid with my family. It was such a fun treat to get an ‘old fashioned’ bottle of root beer, often sold in large metal buckets full of ice. We would then pick up such treasures as pumpkins, watermelons, purple hull peas, black-eyed peas, and other locally grown treasures depending on the time of year. What fun we had heading home to eat our treasures and sit around the kitchen table shelling peas with my Mom.
Today I still love going to local farmer’s markets and learning about food and products grown and/or packaged in my area. Some of these famer’s markets offer frees samples and have activities for kids such as petting zoos, crafts and games, and even kids cooking classes. Don’t know where a farmer’s market is near you? Check out Local Harvest. I recently discovered this site and absolutely love it! Not only does it offer an online shop and articles about seasonal food, you can plug in you zip code and the site shows you farmer’s markets, farms, sources of sustainably grown food in your area. Like until I found this site I had no idea there were OVER 15 farmer’s markets in my city and surrounding areas!
Farm or Ranch- Visiting a local farm or ranch is a great place for kids to learn where their food comes from. Not all, but some, farms/ranches offer tours, activities and ‘pick your own’ options. Some of these farms offer only seasonal activities or different activities from season to season and may not be open year round depending what they specialize in.
Eric and I visited a local Texas farm (Sweet Berry Farms) that offers a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and hay ride in the fall and then berry picking in the spring with the summers being closed (pictured above).
Local Harvest (as mentioned above) allows you to search for farms in your area. Another great resource is a website called PickYour Own. They offer listings of farms and ranches nationally and worldwide, as well as tips, recipes, and activities for using your fresh picked produce.
And if you still can’t find a local farm or ranch to visit, ask family, friends and neighbors if they have a garden, fruit or nut tree, backyard chicken coop, etc. (or plant your own!!), that they wouldn’t mind showing your child or allowing your child to help maintain or harvest.
Growing up my uncle had a cattle ranch. We often went on truck rides with my uncle and cousins to feed the cows and horses. He also had huge pecan trees on his property that us kids would happily gather the fallen nuts and then later ‘help’ my grandmother, aunts, and Mom shell and then turn into pecan pie! And my sister claims her love of tomatoes is from helping our family friend pluck tomatoes from the tomato plants in their backyard garden growing up.
(photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net)
Kids Cooking Classes/Camps- Kids cooking classes/camps are becoming quite popular. These classes offer kids the opportunity to learn to cook hands on.
I have had the opportunity to work with a central Texas based kid’s cooking school in their after school program and summer camp this past school year and summer. I have enjoyed teaching and developing recipes and curriculum for Cook,Learn, Grow and have been busy this summer watching kids learn about new foods and how to prepare foods on their own.
While I wish you all could come learn with me here in Texas I know many of you live far away, so here are a few other great places to find kids cooking classes nationwide. Check with your local grocery store or specialty food store, many (Whole Foods, Central Market, SurLa Table, Williams Sonoma) offer kids and adult cooking classes. Some Whole Foods stores offer a program called “Kids Club” which is a free program every Sunday, offering activities for kids relating to food.
Public libraries, community centers, churches, schools and community colleges are also great resources for finding kids (and adult) cooking classes.
Interested in cake/cookie decorating? Look no further than craft stores, such as Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Jo Ann’s. Many of these craft stores offer cake decorating classes just for kids (of all ages) or classes for adults that would be perfect for teenagers.
Local bakeries will often have cooking classes or special times/days where kids can simply come in and decorate a cupcake or cookie.
Looking for more kids cooking classes in your area? A simple Google search will pull up many nationwide!