OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Hands-on cooking tutorials for all!

Fun cooking workshops & tutorials to inform low income and high illiteracy communities about the benefits of healthy eating

Photo of Philip Matthews
7 6

Written by

Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it inspire the end user to lead a healthier life?

The target audience is anyone in: a low income area/community (but not extreme poverty) a region or culture where illiteracy is reasonably widespread


At the Manchester OpenIDEO meetup we talked about barriers to healthy eating. Low income and lack of education are real barriers for the target audience. 

We want to show people that eating healthy can be cheaper than buying convenience foods through hands on community cooking workshops, online videos, and possibly other platforms too.  

Ideally the workshops would be free - this would require funding and/or sponsorship and possibly volunteers.

Image title

The main outcomes would be:

  • To educate people about basic nutrition, and especially showing that convenience food and junk food are unhealthy and can contribute to obesity. We want to do this in a fun and engaging way.
  • Show that simple recipes with cheap ingredients can be cheaper than bulk buying processed and convenience foods, and junk food. But are also easy to cook (and freeze to eat later).

This is an early idea that we hope to refine, and also provoke other contributors to have ideas. Please feel free to add feedback and build on this with your own ideas!


How can we make this fun and exciting so that people want to participate and make lasting change in their family's diet?

How could we promote this to the target audience? 

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea?

It would be great to hear from anyone who has research (or even better first hand experience) to support/contradict our ideas so that we can learn and refine them.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup


Join the conversation:

Photo of Luisa Vasquez

I think this is a great idea! I agree with Claire McLeland's idea to involve people that the community respects. One possibility would be to offer training to grandma's or teachers or other people that are already respected within the eyes of the community. Then an app could be created to help advertise when classes will take place. For example, a group of respected community members come together and are taught about eating healthier. They could even be taught how to make their traditional foods a little bit healthier. With this knowledge the trained community members could offer classes that they think would be interesting to their community.

In terms of having respected members/organizations offer this within communities, it would be interesting to go through sources that the community already gathers around. From personal experience I know that it is common in Hispanic communities for Church to be a strong tie within the community. And if people feel that they have learned new recipes or techniques for living a healthier life, they could even have weekly or bi-weekly dinners where all of the trained members come together to cook a healthy meal for the community. At the same time, they could hand out pamphlets to everyone who comes on quick tips to healthier eating and that point out how their meals have been carefully prepared with their health in mind. Another option would be to have conversation cards at the tables that could lead everyone to engage in conversation about leading healthier lives.

Photo of Kristina Tauchmannova

Great idea!

However, I think it shouldn't be completely free. People don't value free things as much. I would say it should be cheap, even a small amount would make a difference. People will be able to cook their own dinner and than eat it afterwards and even better would be if they could invite their family and friends and eat all together.

Photo of Claire McLeland

Hey team!
Your idea reminds me of a case study featured in Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. While studying a Vietnamese community that suffered from malnutrition, the researchers found a few "bright spots"-- young children who were healthy. Rather than launching an educational campaign against bad habits, they were able to help hundreds of communities by leveraging a solution that came from their own community and made sense for their context. When considering how to help Hispanic communities eat healthier, there are some important questions to be asking: What is already going on that's working? Who is best positioned to lead/educate? Any sustainable solution has to suit the palate of its intended community, so this is a time to look to your experts-- your "bright spots," and let them lead. This article gives background on the Vietnamese case study:

When working technology into your idea, it'd be great to learn about who prepares the food and how they use smartphones. A Mexican-American friend shared with me that his mother didn't trust an app he had downloaded for her, but was immediately won over when she realized the app was released by Telemundo. In another instance, he taught her to take a citizenship quiz (which she did only reluctantly), and found both parents competing to get the higher score late into the evening. If you find that the matriarchs of the family are responsible for food purchase and preparation (this friend also shared several anecdotes of the kids feeding themselves while the parents were busy working), then these women's preferences and habits should be worked into your app. They may prefer a familiar name or need some coaxing to get started, but I think a smartphone app could be a good choice.

While sharing low-cost ingredients can help families cut costs, another way to help is to connect families to the best deals in terms of groceries. The Daily Table in Dorchester, MA sells dried goods, produce, and prepared food at a fraction of the cost (I got 6 bananas, 2 cans of tuna, 2 yogurts, and soup for $4.75). The Daily Table is putting products nearing their sell-by date to good use by preparing food that would otherwise be wasted and making healthy groceries more affordable. In this case, the issue may not be the availability of inexpensive groceries, but rather the knowledge of where and when to find them. This is an opportunity to leverage technology to help connect the consumer to the right goods. GasBuddy is a website and app which shares price information about gas stations in your immediate area and is kept up to date by the users themselves. Perhaps a smartphone app for groceries could work similarly, showing the best deals on groceries in your immediate area and connecting the dots between goods and consumer.

Best of luck, I'm excited to see how your idea evolves!

Photo of Philip Matthews

Thanks for featuring our idea Joanna! I'll encourage the team to start sharing our ideas too.

Check back in a few weeks to see how our idea has evolved!

Photo of Philip Matthews

Thanks Shane! Totally agree - we will be working up the idea and seeing how we can use tech and the media to leverage this. We might refine this when we next meetup in a few weeks.

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Hi Philip! I loved reading about your Meetup in Manchester and can't wait to see how your team's idea develops. OpenIDEO also just featured your idea on Facebook:

We'd love for you & your team to share too!

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great to see this idea emerge from an OpenIDEO Manchester Meetup Philip! In this challenge, we're particularly interested in seeing how ideas will leverage the use of technology and media. It'd be helpful if you and your team might tell us a bit more about the technology aspect of this concept? Looking forward to how this will evolve!