Adding Cooking Classes to your Nutrition Practice

As you start to establish your name and practice as a nutritionist, it will be important for you to seek to offer more than just your consulting services. Firstly, it helps diversify your income and ensure you are able to live and profit from your practice, and secondly, it helps improve your credibility: potential clients may start with your cooking class and get to know you and realize that you know your stuff, and then sign up for a consultation. You can think of your cooking class as a good way to recruit potential clients!

That being said, you want to make it the best possible experience for them so they are confident in you and your abilities and you gain their trust. Creating and facilitating successful cooking classes that are both profitable and offer you an increased client base, takes time and effort. Before you launch your first class, ensure it is a success by following these tips and suggestions:

Find a location

One of the more difficult things about teaching cooking classes is finding a location where you can offer the classes. You obviously need something with kitchen facilities, as well as the ability to accommodate a group of people, and there are also legal and safety considerations: if you are not certified in food safety, you need to have someone on the premises who is and who will be there while you are teaching the classes. It may be advisable for you to get this certification, especially if in in the future you plan on going into the homes of clients to help them set up their own kitchen and pantry for healthy meal planning.

Likewise, you should have public liability insurance. This is true for your practice as a nutritionist, where you assess your clients, but especially true for where you teach your classes. Look into getting insurance that allows you to operate your business in different facilities and make sure it is in place before your first class. In terms of the kitchen facilities, make do with what you have! If you don’t have an oven or stove, build your class around things like a blender or bring in a hot plate

Choose a topic

Choosing the right topic for your classes is going to be key to your success and participant sign up. Take some time to gauge what your potential audience is looking to learn about when it comes to cooking food. Ask your current clients, put a poll up on your Facebook page, or send out an email to your email list and ask subscribers to let you know what they would like. Some ideas include: quick and healthy meals, how to fill your pantry with healthy food, vegan cooking, cooking on a budget, or seasonal based ones such as Christmas cookies or Thanksgiving dinner.

The other component to choosing a topic is whether you would like to run cooking classes that are part of a series, where individuals come to a few different classes, each one a continuation of the one before, or whether you run independent classes all on different topics.

My experience has been that individuals like single classes, and the ability to learn about lots of different topics, but it might be different for your client base. Finally, decide how long your classes are going to be and then be sure to consider the time limits of your topic: does it require too long or not long enough in terms of your teaching time. I typically find that two hours is a good length.

Structure and design your class

Before you advertise your class for sign up, you need to design the curriculum. When I design my courses, I try to structure the classes with an informational component, an instructional and demonstration component, a hands on component and then time to eat and ask questions. Start the class with the educational component of your course in terms of your knowledge: talk about the nutrition, why you are cooking a certain way, how it helps the body etc. This will be catered to each class, depending on the topic, but helps verify your credibility and asserts your role as a nutritionist.

When it comes to the cooking component, if you don’t have the space or facilities for individuals to each cook, partner them up and have them work in groups of two or three for the cooking. For the demonstration and instruction, be sure to set up the room so that everyone can see, and walk around the room while working, if you can. Also, ask for volunteers to help you, and make the participants feel involved.

Build your client base

The end goal, through these classes, is to help you build up your client base. To do this, in addition to the points listed above, you also need to make the class memorable and a step above other class experiences they have had.

One of my favourite ways to do is, is to give them something to take home (in addition to the food you cook). This may be a treat bag for after the course, infographics or handouts, which they can stick on their fridge, or perhaps some healthy treats that you made ahead of time. For example, when I did my healthy pantry class, I made an infographic that participants could stick on their fridge. For the smoothies and juices class I taught, I made a mini card called “Build a Better Smoothie,” which they could stick somewhere near their blender.

Furthermore, I always print out recipe cards for the participants, with the idea that if they come to several classes, they will build up a repertoire of several recipe cards they can use. Finally, don’t forget to connect it to your nutrition practice and tell people about your services. Offer them a voucher for a consultation/coaching session and give them the information they need so that it is easy for them to choose you and book a consultation!

Have you ever hosted or taken a cooking class? How was the experience and did you find it beneficial? Let us know in the comments, and please share this article if you found it helpful.

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