Whether your child is interested in becoming the next Master Chef Jr or just loves experimenting with the Easy Bake oven, there are lots of opportunities for kids to explore and have fun with food. From field trips, festivals, and classes, toddlers to teens can find something sure to please their palette.
A simple trip to your local grocery store can inspire your little chef. ShopRite has monthly culinary workshops for adults and kids with a different theme every month like I Love Peanut Butter, Dinosaur Party, and Under the Sea. Stop by their Courtesy Counter, and register for any of their workshops.
Whole Foods Market has created a whole website devoted to healthy eating for kids. It includes nutrition tips, kid friendly recipes, healthier snack swaps and more. Visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy-eating/healthy-eating-for-whole-family for more information. They also offer a variety of kid’s classes. Visit your local store to sign up.
Or visit the Field Trip Factory (http://www.fieldtripfactory.com/). They provide free field trips for groups (from schools, scouts to moms groups to home school students) to tour through the aisles of their local Stop & Shop store. While children explore the store, they'll experience essential concepts like nutrition, well-balanced diet and fitness. Each stop features another Healthy Idea designed to help kids grow up healthy!
The Kings Supermarket in Short Hills also has a whole studio with classes for all ages. Some classes include Harry Potter themed foods, snow day treats for the young kids, Hearts Delight, and so much more. (http://kingsfoodmarkets.com/media/files/CS_Brochure_JAN-APRIL-2015.pdf)
Restaurants like Panera Bread are even joining in on the fun. They have a Bakers-In-Training program (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/company/bakers-in-training.html) to get kids interested in kitchen essentials and the fundamentals of baking. Designed for children ages 5–12, Bakers-In-Training walks children through a Panera Bread bakery-cafe while teaching the basics of baking.
Another unique destination for kids to learn about food is the HealthBarn USA located in Wyckoff. (http://www.healthbarnusa.com) At the barn, children (and grown-ups, too!) learn how to grow their own fruits and veggies and make the best choice at the supermarket or in a restaurant, how to prepare and cook their bounty, and how to add a heaping, tasty scoop of fun to everyday meals and snacks. They have everything from seasonal classes to summer camps.
Or try one of the many cooking schools throughout NJ. The Classic Thyme Cooking School (www.classicthyme.com) in Westfield is a leading facilitator in culinary programs for students of all ages. Classic Thyme will bring new excitement to your kids with exciting new classes. Apply all the basic education skills such as math, science, history, geography and language while introducing your kids to a true cultural experience. Check out their website for full details on newly released challenge classes as well as regular and intensive summer camp programs.
There are tons of food fairs and festivals throughout the year worth checking out. Start with the Chocolate Festival at Morris Museum (Feb 7). Go to Maple Sugar Demonstrations at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (February: 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 & 28 & March: 1, 7 & 8). There is also the Chili and Chowder Challenge in Cape May (Feb 15). Head down to Atlantic City from March 1-7, you’ll have the chance to taste the very best of AC’s culinary scene as local chefs cook up special dishes just for Restaurant Week.