It’s no secret that I’m on a mission to change the poor health of our children’s generation by teaching every child in America to cook. That I believe the kitchen is the best place to foster connection, confidence, and creativity for our kids while nourishing the whole family.
I created Kids Cook Real Food, our cooking class for kids, in 2015 as part of my efforts here at Kitchen Stewardship to help families stay healthy without going crazy. As a trained elementary teacher, I could see the writing on the wall that pointed to chronic disease and processed food addiction 20 years down the road because families simply weren’t figuring out how to empower their kids to take ownership of their health (even if they were making healthy changes and great strides from a parental perspective).
I knew families needed a resource to make it easy for them to get their kids in the kitchen without stress or too much planning, and that it had to be 100% real, healthy food (and fun too!).
There aren’t many classes (especially online) designed to teach kids basic cooking skills. It was important to me to lay the foundation for kids to be able to make any recipe they came across, rather than just learning a recipe here and there at a community cooking class (too many of which start with a can of prepared crescent rolls or white flour and sugar).
I can’t accomplish this mission alone, however.
Raddish Kids is Teaching Kids to Cook Too
Raddish Kids is another example of cooking lessons for kids, but our programs differ greatly. I decided to interview some Kids Cook Real Food members who are also using Raddish in the kitchen with their kids, and I wanted to share what I found.
Spoiler: This isn’t a bashing post, a negative “review,” or a backward commercial for my course by making Raddish look bad.
On the contrary, I think Raddish is doing some great things and that the subscription boxes complement what we’re doing at Kids Cook Real Food marvelously.
I would recommend families to start with our program for basic skills and embrace Raddish as a monthly reminder to continue building positive experiences in the kitchen, practicing and refining your kids’ skills.
Raddish Kids Overview
Raddish Kids is a “cooking club in a box” — a kit delivered to your house every month. The focus is to “make cooking and sharing a meal fun for the whole family” and “deliver culinary experiences that nurture kids’ confidence in the kitchen and beyond.”
- Ages 4-14
- Monthly subscription of about $20-24/month (additional siblings are $5 each)
- You receive a box in the mail each month with a kitchen tool, 3 recipe cards, 3 skills cards, an extra kitchen project (usually a science experiment, craft or game), Table Talk cards and a patch for the apron.
“In addition, each month Raddish provides digital lesson plans to complement each kit, as well as recipes and other extension activities ensuring the value of this kit lasts all month long – and beyond!” Monthly themes are academic (Kitchen Chemistry), seasonal (Grateful Table), global (Bon Appetit), and creative (Food Is Art). The recipes never repeat, and you can continue your subscription indefinitely.
Kids Cook Real Food Overview
Kids Cook Real Food is an online eCourse using videos and memory tools to help kids master over 30 basic cooking skills. The focus is to connect families in the kitchen, build powerful confidence in children, and inspire creativity with food and in life.
- Ages 2-12
- One-time fee of $149.95 for lifetime access, all 3 levels, any number of children
- You get access to an online dashboard where you work through 32 lesson videos at your own pace, plus printable flash cards with memory phrases and science info, kid-friendly recipe formats, and $300+ in bonus materials (videos, recipe eBooks, lessons and more).
We believe that once children have mastered these 30+ foundational skills, they can practice by applying those skills in many situations, and we want to keep learning as close to real life as possible so they don’t have to transition from “kid knives” and “kid recipes” later.
Cooking skills aren’t changing (much) and these lessons will allow children to work at their own pace and developmental level: Beginner, small motor skills and connecting with parents in the kitchen (preschoolers); Intermediate, building confidence with sharp knives, stovetop safety, and following a recipe correctly (ages 6 and up); and Advanced, inspiring creativity while mastering the chef’s knife, oven safety, and creating entire meals independently (age 8 and up with mastery of Intermediate skills).
I talked to a couple members in our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse who also use the Raddish boxes. They agreed that it’s really a nice complement to have both: Kids Cook Real Food to lay the foundation for skills and Raddish to stretch kids to try new recipes, new kitchen tools, and dinner conversation.
One said that Kids Cook Real Food is geared better toward homeschooling families or “over achievers” seeking out things to do, and that Raddish is more of a fun, gifty item, a sleepover activity sort of thing. She also thought that although the Raddish recipes are all pictorial, the instructions are still worded more for older kids. She affirmed that with kids under 10 or 12, parents will need to have a lot of involvement in a Raddish box.
One of her girls loves to sew the patches on the apron, and the other appreciates the Table Talk cards with questions to inspire great conversation at the dinner table. Mom appreciates the factoids on the back of the recipe cards for academic integration, but she admits that the recipes don’t always explain the how-to as thoroughly as Kids Cook Real Food.
She has been impressed with how the Raddish recipes are getting her girls to try foods they’ve not had before (and I am applauding in the background! Any program that encourages variety is a win!). The tools, however, are slightly better than dollar store but beneath the quality she’d invest in for her kitchen.
This member appreciates the quick access online to Kids Cook Real Food and how easy it has been for their family to modify recipes and still practice all the skills. She was struck by the fun language and how well it stuck with her girls: “I’ve been telling you that for years and now you do it because she named it?”
My other member said that she liked the variety of tools to choose from, the history and science connections, and the yummy food with Raddish, but it was hard for her to keep up on all the groceries, and they used a lot of pots and pans. (Ack! Creating unnecessary dishes is a big no-no for me!) They got so behind that they stopped the subscription so they could work through the boxes one at a time.
She appreciates the fun language and teaching methods at Kids Cook Real Food as well as the focus on whole foods (although Raddish does “ok” on that too).
She likes that they learned specific skills that didn’t always require preparing a meal right then, even though it could become something. The single pieces in Kids Cook Real Food were really manageable in a 15-20 minute time frame for them, and they tended to come back later at dinner time, since they practiced the skill during “cooking skills time.”
Kids Cook Real Food vs. Raddish Kids: A Comparison Review
Let’s take an honest and open look at each program in a variety of categories:
Skills vs. Recipes
Kids Cook Real Food focuses on comprehensive skill development, while Raddish focuses much more on simply making a few recipes.
Skill instruction and demonstration via video are the foundation of Kids Cook Real Food and the recipes are secondary; in fact, we encourage families to use their own favorite recipes that fit the skills if they aren’t thrilled with what we make in the video.
Raddish is mostly about the recipes, and the skill instruction is limited to a few sentences and a bulleted list of instructions. (See Raddish sample PDF of skill card.)
Kids Cook Real Food videos are professionally produced and include children demonstrating the skills. Many member families say that the “positive peer pressure” of watching other kids in the videos really helps motivate them to participate and even encourages food tasting that parents never expected. (See Kids Cook Real Food sample video lesson.)
The Raddish program does not include videos, although they do cook some recipes on Facebook Live (but not the ones actually in the boxes).
We prefer to condense our demonstrations so kids don’t have to watch 45+ minutes of screen time; Kids Cook Real Food videos are 3-21 minutes long.
Visual Recipes for Kids
Kids Cook Real Food does not have visual recipes, with the exception of a special method that pre-readers can use to measure spices using symbols. My focus was to make the recipes easy to read and follow and in a larger font and then teach children the skills of reading and following a recipe well. We don’t rely on abbreviations or fractions so that children can access cooking without having to learn those extra “languages” first.
Raddish does an incredible job breaking down each recipe step by step and including cute drawings for each ingredient, tool needed, and part of the process. Although my member thought they weren’t explained clearly, I’ve been impressed with the examples I’ve seen, like this one provided on the website as a sample:
I can see how the imagery is helpful; I can also imagine that 12-14-year-olds don’t need the pictures anymore.
Clutter or Tools?
Raddish includes a new kitchen tool in every box. (See an example of a tool, Table Talk cards and apron patch here.) Some love this idea because it gives the kids something that is theirs, while others are annoyed by the thought of more “things” coming into the house, especially if they’re not high quality kitchen tools. I see a lot of plastic…
At Kids Cook Real Food, we prefer to let the children learn using the everyday kitchen utensils that are already found in your home rather than send more kitchen tools which may or may not be needed. However, for those who DO want a little package to wrap, or something to motivate the kids to get started, we offer a few packages of our favorite kitchen tools (a one-time purchase).
We’ll send you a smaller package like this:
Or a box that contains literally everything you need to teach Lesson 1 at all three levels, even the non-perishable food:
Variety of Age Groups
The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse allows all ages in a family to work at their own developmental levels, while what they create comes together in one meal or snack the whole family can enjoy. The class is intended for approximately 2-12, although we have quite a few teens enjoying the course as well!
The levels serve preschoolers, early elementary (basically kids who can read), and upper elementary (anyone who has mastered the early el skills) with varied skills and approaches in the videos. (See the Curriculum Map here for how skills connect among age groups and also how skills loop back into the classes so kids get sufficient practice.)
With Raddish Kids, ages 4-14 all receive the same box each month. It sounds like the recipes fit older kids best (perhaps 10-14) with less parent intervention. My member warned that she thinks it’s not a great fit for kids who can’t read for sure and that it would be very hands-on for parents of younger children.
Raddish does offer a preschool placemat set, a one-time purchase with some fun activities and recipes for the under 4 crowd to participate. The set is $20.
Cooking Skill Progression
Kids Cook Real Food logically connects over 30 basic cooking skills, aligning with age groups developmentally and making sure that skills build throughout the course of the program.
A child will never be asked to make a recipe that requires a skill s/he has not already learned, and lessons continue to loop skills learned previously back into the coursework to make sure kids get practice to move toward mastery.
With Raddish Kids, my biggest concern is that there’s no beginning, and therefore a child’s first box may be overwhelming because there are so many skills needed for a recipe that they haven’t yet learned. Or possible the first box is disheartening if the child can’t complete very much independently but was hoping they would. I think parents just need to understand that Raddish isn’t intended to teach cooking, but rather to be a fun activity for a family to work on together.
Encourages Kids to Love Cooking
It’s easy to see from Raddish’s Facebook page and active open group that they are definitely inspiring kids to get in the kitchen AND enjoy it!
Many families in both the Raddish and Kids Cook Real Food programs share photos of kids busy in the kitchen, smiling while showing off their delicious accomplishments, and even trying foods they had previously turned their noses up at.
Whether the inspiration is having fun, building competence, or connecting with family members, both programs are doing vitally important work when it comes to building life skills in our children!
Connects Families Together
Similarly, both programs provide a platform and encouragement for parents (and grandparents) to spend time with their children in the kitchen.
When you think about your family’s stories, I can guarantee that many of them are around food traditions. We need to keep up that history with our families and move into the future with genuine cooking skills and that feeling of being connected, both the family and food.
Bravo to any program that helps makes this happen!
Healthy, Real Food
Kids Cook Real Food focuses only on real, healthy food – no sugar, lots of vegetables, and exploring how kids can learn to make up their own dishes and enjoy a variety of nourishing meals. The program is perfect for families already eating a whole foods diet or who are ready to jump in and make positive changes in their diets and want to get the kids on board.
Raddish incorporates healthy foods as well, fruits and vegetables, but many of the recipes use white flour, pasta, and sugar. I would classify what I see in the member photos as fairly “standard American fare” with a gentle healthy bent. Some reviews say that the food is healthy; others wish it were more so. The program may be ideal for those just coming off fast food multiple times a week or for kids who need a bridge from processed food to homemade food.
I’ve always thought that children who are interested in the kitchen figure out how to bake pretty well on their own, and although we include one class with a pumpkin muffin recipe and whole wheat breadmaker rolls, that’s about all the baking you’ll get at Kids Cook Real Food. We set the foundation and allow kids to practice on their own if they choose to. Raddish looks to be about 1 baking recipe of the 3 each month, sometimes more.
Families with food allergies know that their kids need to learn to cook (even more than most), since it’s not always safe for others to cook for them, and very expensive to buy allergy-friendly foods all the time. Fully one-third of our members at Kids Cook Real Food have food allergies or sensitivities.
I think that’s because I designed the program to serve kids with allergies. We very rarely use gluten, dairy, eggs, and no nuts at all. When an allergenic food does show up in the lesson plans, we offer adaptations to be able to learn the same skill with a different recipe or tweak to the recipe. Those adaptations are right in the lesson plans.
For example, that pumpkin muffin recipe I just mentioned can be whole wheat or gluten-free/egg-free/dairy-free/corn-free/soy-free, and the pancakes we make can be whole wheat, sourdough, gluten-free, or even grain-free — we take food allergies seriously!
At Raddish, there’s an online page where all recipe adaptations are listed, month after month. Almost all of them are, “Use gluten-free pasta/flour,” or “Use an egg replacer,” or “Use a non-dairy milk like…” I find myself questioning if the recipes have been tested with the adaptations (although perhaps they have as some GF flour changes also add more water or reduce something else). They also use no nuts.
Fun for Birthday Parties & Similar
I wish I could say that Kids Cook Real Food is a great party activity, but it’s really geared for more serious, continued learning. If you’re comfortable with a bunch of giggly girls with knives in your kitchen, maybe. But I wouldn’t really recommend it.
I love that Raddish is a FUN activity that can be done in a singular situation like a birthday party, and what fun that one of our members suggested it as such. I know both programs are excellent as “Grandma’s house” activities, but I’d give Raddish the win for a party.
Appropriate for Homeschool Co-ops
Kids Cook Real Food is currently in use in quite a few homeschool co-ops, and because it’s designed for multiple age groups and licensed for any number of kids, I’d say it’s a great fit.
Raddish does offer special “lesson plans” with learning outcomes for homeschoolers to take their 3 recipes and make them into 45-90 minute lessons that integrate another subject, like science or history, as well. They’re impressively thorough! I’m sure homeschool co-ops could incorporate these lessons easily.
Extra Science Info
Kids Cook Real Food incorporates a 1-minute “daily nugget” into each lesson video: a quick science geek fact about food for the kids to learn. Parents can print out flash cards of the daily nuggets to practice them during the week.
Raddish once again trumps KCRF with this one, because some of their “kitchen projects” are really science experiments (see sample PDF), the skills cards often include science tidbits, and the homeschool lesson plans incorporate a lot of science learning objectives as well.
As long as you’re good with conventional nutrition wisdom like MyPlate, you’ll love Raddish’s science integrations. (If you don’t like the philosophy on nutrition, much of the science will still be applicable for your family). At Kids Cook Real Food, we take a bit more of a renegade bent on what’s healthy, like this Daily Nugget:
Designed by Educators
Yes to both!
I am a former third grade teacher and mom of 4 who applied all my collective knowledge of best practices teaching and parenting to this program.
Raddish was designed by a team of educators and chefs after founder Samantha Barnes, a middle school teacher, ran an in-person cooking camp for years.
Here’s what chefs say about Kids Cook Real Food:
What’s the Cost?
The Kids Cook Real Food program is meant for the entire family to enjoy at one price, and the VIP level is a one-time fee for lifetime access ($149.95). Being able to teach all of your kids using one package makes a big price difference.
Raddish is a subscription model, from $24/month for a single month to $20/month when paying for a year all at once ($240/year). Adding on a tool for siblings, if you want it and the apron patch, is $5/month.
Note: The most common negative review about Raddish is the recurring subscription fee feeling like a surprise. Boxes auto-renew, apparently without an email reminder as of 2019 reviews, so that’s something to be aware of if you start a Raddish subscription.
Bottom Line: Kids Cook Real Food or Raddish Subscription?
Whether your child loves to cook and wants to learn more or you feel like they need to build life skills in the kitchen and aren’t sure where to start, both Kids Cook Real Food and Raddish are great options.
How to decide?
If you can only afford one, I humbly recommend that you start with Kids Cook Real Food. We’ll get you going from the basics forward, no matter what age your child (or how many you have).
Your kids will learn the foundations they need to follow any recipe while building confidence in the kitchen, independence, and an ownership of healthy eating.
Once you’re through the video lessons that fit your child’s age, you might want some structure to remind you to have a kids’ cooking night once a week or generally get your kids in the kitchen to practice their skills. Now Raddish might be a great choice, especially if “my own” tools will motivate your kids and/or you love themes and stretching outside your norm with cooking.
(Kids Cook Real Food also has a few additional classes if you like the video format: Thematic SkillLabs on healthy breakfasts, healthy snacks, and Instant Pot and Slow Cooker Meals.)
What’s important is that you DO get your kids in the kitchen, that they build these vital life skills and healthy habits to help avoid a lifetime of prescriptions as they age. We don’t have to watch this generation be the first not to outlive their parents!
Teach a kid to cook. Share photos on social. Inspire others to join you!! #kidscookrealfood