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Cooking in the Classroom - Starter Pack with No Microwave

At a Glance

In this guide, we wanted to hone in on classrooms that don’t have any special equipment, including a microwave or refrigerator.

Identify types of recipes that you and your students can create and contribute to.

List out the basic tools you can use in this starter pack for cooking in your classroom.

For teachers and professionals who don’t have a specific mandate to teach it, cooking in the classroom can simultaneously seem like an enriching and valuable experience and a chaotic and messy exercise. 


Cooking is undeniably a valuable skill at any level of mastery, but where does one even begin in a school setting that might not include traditional cooking tools, particularly stovetops and ovens?


The great news is that there are fun, interesting, and useful recipes out there that don’t rely on heavy-duty kitchen equipment, and there are recipes to fit just about any setup.


In Part 1 of this guide, we wanted to hone in on classrooms that don’t have any special equipment, including a microwave or refrigerator if they are not easily accessible based on the rules of your school. 


If some of these recommendations sound interesting to you, we’ll have links to some of our visual recipes available in the AGU shop, and we strongly encourage checking out your own favorite recipes to see what fits the bill. But first, let’s dive in!

What kinds of recipes can I use when I have no special equipment available?

Having no heating or cooling elements in the classroom can present some obvious challenges in making certain types of recipes, but that certainly doesn’t mean no recipes can be made! Some great ways to work around those constraints are to focus on.

Cold Drinks

While hot drinks can require some specialized equipment to prep effectively, cold drinks from Arnold Palmers to themed punches


The Arnold Palmers, for example, require a microwave to heat up the water for the iced tea and a fridge to cool it down, but those steps can be completed at home while the lemonade and final mixing happens in the classroom. 


Punches that are more about mixing different amounts of juices can focus more on measuring and proportions. 

Prep-Ahead Recipes

Like the Arnold Palmer, many recipes have components that require some form of heating or cooling element but in a way that allows it to be done ahead of time in a home setting. 


Our Winter Wonderland cookie recipe is a good example of this type of activity, as the main preparation requires an oven but the baked cookies can be brought to school so students can focus on applying icing and sprinkles. 


When considering a recipe with heating or cooling elements and are otherwise excited to bring it to the classroom, consider whether it would be possible to prep certain parts of the recipe ahead of time!

Creative Assembly Recipes

Creative assembly recipes are food-oriented and often include instructions with steps, but don’t are more focused on assembling completed components rather than creating them from scratch. 


One example of this type of recipe is our Halloween-themed vampire teeth cookies. The cookies are assembled entirely out of ingredients that are ready out of the package, and the fun is in the assembly!

Technique or Ingredient Focused Recipes

While lots of recipe activities are great for fun occasions, there are also more directly practical recipes that can be practiced without the help of heating elements! 


Our visual recipe on salad for example gets into how you might cut the vegetables and some of your options for selecting ingredients

Basic Durable Equipment

While these recipes do not rely on the type of big equipment that might constitute too much of a personal investment, there are some tools worth having handy if you want to make food preparation activities a regular part of your schedule. 


One thing worth considering from the beginning is whether students will work on their own batches, in groups, or together as a class. 


This list is not meant to be a bare minimum but rather a rundown of tools that would see a lot of use that are worth considering when building up your supplies.

Rubber spatulas - One of the most versatile tools in any kitchen, it can handle stirring drinks, folding viscous mixtures, or mixing up solid ingredients like in a trail mix. Sticky foods come off of rubber spatulas easier than many other utensils, and they’re fairly cost-effective to boot!


Rubber spatulas - One of the most versatile tools in any kitchen, it can handle stirring drinks, folding viscous mixtures, or mixing up solid ingredients like in a trail mix. Sticky foods come off of rubber spatulas easier than many other utensils, and they’re fairly cost-effective to boot!


Mixing bowls - Many recipes that don’t require heating elements still require mixing, and these bowls will come in handy no matter how advanced your other equipment gets.


Holding bowls - This one might seem extra, but if you like to prep ahead then having little bowls to put the correct amount of various ingredients in can really help make the activity itself more efficient! Of course for some classes measuring will be part of the exercise, but small bowls are still great for ensuring everything is where it needs to be!


Punch bowl and serving ladle - Punch bowls are perfect for big mixes and class parties, and if you get a punch bowl you may as well get a ladle while you’re at it for easy serving. Punch bowls are great because you can mix everything right in the bowl and serve it and it will look great!


Pitcher - If you plan to keep your drinks for a few days then a pitcher may be a safer bet than a punch bowl. The main drawback compared to a punch bowl is that pitchers tend to hold less liquid overall.


8x13 pan - if you only get one pan, an 8x13 is a good compromise between a smaller pan that might not have enough surface area and a sheet pan that might not have enough depth. The type of pan you buy will become more crucial when we cover microwave and especially refrigerator based recipes.


Measuring spoons - Measuring spoons should be easy to use with large numbers to visibly indicate how much the spoon is measuring.


Measuring cups - Much like measuring spoons, the best measuring cups make their size very clear and easy to see.


Dish rack - If you have a space in which you can feasibly clean equipment then a nice dish rack can both help with drying and act as a designated space to put clean equipment.


Basic Disposable Equipment

Parchment paper - Parchment paper is ideal for recipes that are naturally kind of sticky and need a clean nonstick surface.


Aluminum foil - Aluminum foil can serve some similar functions as parchment paper and can double as a way to wrap up certain foods to take home.


Baggies, paper or plastic - If you have lots of students who want to take food home, having a handy supply of baggies is a great and relatively cost-effective way to safely distribute treats.


Plastic utensils - While plastic utensils are just single us, having the actual silverware to accommodate however many people might need them can be daunting and costly. That’s before we get into the annoyance of keeping track of all those individual items and getting them back from people. With plastic utensils you’ll be ready to share at a moment’s notice!


Paper plates - similar to plastic utensils, it’s helpful to have a form of serving vessel that you can just give away and not worry about.

While this list is hardly exhaustive, we hope it has driven home that food prep can happen in the classroom even when the actual cooking part is not possible. 


We also hope that if you do have access to a microwave or refrigerator in the classroom you’ll check out our upcoming posts which explore how your options open up when those pieces of equipment are available. Until then, we’d love to hear any questions, concerns, or success stories at hello@autismgrownup.com


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