Countless parents and kids are stuck at home for hours on end, struggling to work, study, and fill the hours. But we all have to eat, too. That's where cooking classes—online, live, and on-demand—come in. For parents with time and kids with interest, there’s a range of material out there that can entertain and occupy kids, while also relieving some of the pressure on parents in the kitchen. Children as young as four can learn to tear and toss salad greens, shuck peas, and mash guacamole; older kids can lear to make tortillas or knead dough, prep fruits and vegetables, or mix marinades, dressings, or sauces.
Many resources, such as Dynamite Shop in Brooklyn, Real Food 4 Kids out of Iowa, and Outschool in San Francisco, encourage and teach kids seven and older how to make a full meal all on their own. Parental supervision is, of course, very important.
For those seeking a go-at-your-own pace approach, YouTube is a rabbit hole of compelling and relevant tutorials, from Nerdy Nummies’ demonstration of how to make a cake from Animal Crossing to Step Stool Chef’s youth-driven kitchen explainers, which go into everything from how to safely use a can opener to recipes like breakfast smoothies, French bread pizza, and three-ingredient mango sorbet.
For kids—and exhausted parents—looking for a more structured or longer-term program, these six choices provide a breadth of digital options, some of them free.
Cost: $25 to $30 per class
Originally an after-school and summer camp program, Brooklyn’s Dynamite Shop has shifted its programming to be entirely online. Interactive and live, the Dynamite Shop's cooking classes are set up to show kids (aged seven through 15) how to prepare dinner for their family. The lessons are straightforward, and designed to take some of the pressure off parents and empower students in the process. And the meals, like cheesy baked pasta with garlicky sautéed greens and French onion soup with massaged kale salad, are hearty and vegetable-centric. Classes are weekly, and can be purchased in a group, as a “semester,” but are also available on a drop-in basis. For kids (or adults) with upcoming birthdays or other celebrations, Dynamite is also offering online cooking party classes.
Christina Tosi’s Baking Club
Venue: Instagram Live
Every day at 2 p.m. Eastern, chef Christina Tosi—of Milk Bar and Masterchef fame—goes live on Instagram for her quarantine #bakingclub. For more than a month, she’s been cranking out high-energy videos that often feature her adorable dog, Butter. She posts photos of ingredients the day before; they're usually pantry items, with a few wild card flavoring ideas in the mix, like scallions, strawberry jelly, or Nutella. Her notes and comments get her audience hyped for the next day's class, where she goes through the recipe step-by-step, including prep, allowing viewers to bake along with her at home each afternoon. So far she's made quarantine florentines, soft pretzels, cheese crackers, chocolate cheesecake bars, and so much more.
Real Food 4 Kids
Venue: YouTube, plus live classes on Zoom
Acknowledging the current crisis, this online cooking school, which was founded by activist and instructor Sue Honkamp in 2004, is now free through the end of May. The organization publishes weekly "kid-friendly" cooking projects, such as scratch-made tortillas, granola, and a chocolate chip cookie pie, complete with video tutorials and advice on how to best involve your young ones in the culinary process. Sign up for free on the Real Food 4 Kids website; additional free kids cooking content is available on Real Food 4 Kids' YouTube page.
Outschool Cooking Classes
Cost: $18 to $150 per series
Outschool's live online classes are aimed at K-12 students, and feature a variety of cooking programs, primarily for kids ages eight to 14. Some, like "Create Your Own Popup Restaurant," happen several times in one week, while others, like "Kitchen at Hogwarts," which features recipes like pumpkin juice, butter beer cookies, and lemon ice pops, run weekly (in this case, for eight weeks total). Outschool is a San Francisco-based outfit backed by venture capitalists like Y Combinator and features a wide range of classes on everything from American Sign Language to Econ 101.
Cost: $14 to $35 per class
For students who want more variety, this caregiving site runs one-time virtual classes; new classes are added to the schedule daily. Recent classes included a sweet pea risotto lesson aimed at children as young as four and a cupcake-making course for kids aged six to 10. Classes are relatively affordable, usually costing around $15, but there are also a handful of free programs aimed at adults, which might be appropriate for more advanced students ready to try their hands at prepping ingredients or assembling dishes like paella or apple pie.
Cost: $20 to $24 per subscription
Not unlike a meal delivery kit, Raddish Kids is a monthly subscription program organized by theme. May's is "Made in Morocco," and includes recipes for kefta rolls, chicken tagine, and orange blossom tea cakes. Prices vary based on subscription length. While Raddish is primarily an offline experience, the site does include cook-along videos as well as a resource page for parents who are "suddenly homeschooling" and could use some food-based activity ideas. Bonus: The online resources are free.