Meal preparation courses are available in standalone format or in programs awarding certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in culinary arts, hospitality, baking or restaurant management. While restaurant and hospitality management programs include some culinary arts coursework, they are business-oriented and geared toward those seeking leadership positions. Programs in the culinary arts and baking fields, on the other hand, primarily prepare students to make a variety of dishes, drinks and desserts from cuisines around the world.
Common courses related to meal preparation include introductory meal preparation material. More advanced courses teach students to actually prepare and cook meals and desserts. Programs in the baking, culinary arts, restaurant management and hospitality management fields often include an internship or practicum. Some programs also include opportunities for overseas travel.
Here are a few common concepts taught in meal preparation courses:
- Production methods
- Specific regions
List of Courses
Safety and Sanitation
A sanitation and safety class is typically one of the first taken in a degree program. Students must receive certification in food safety before working with food to reduce the cases of food-borne illnesses spread annually. Students learn about safety procedures, the proper way to wash hands, keeping meal preparation areas clean and the correct use of stoves, knives and related equipment.
Concern for overall heath makes a class in nutrition as essential part of a degree program related to meal preparation. Students learn to prepare foods that are nutritious and cooked properly. This includes making sure that food, like ham and chicken, is cooked to the right temperature and cooked thoroughly to prevent the spread of bacteria. Students are also taught how to store various foods to prevent them from going bad and to understand how proteins, fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol affect particular foods and those who eat them.
Meal Preparation for Friends and Family
In this course, students put together meals that are nutritious and easy to prepare. The class includes preparing appetizers, entrees, desserts, soups, salads and food for special occasions; prepared foods are sampled at the end of each class. Students improve their cooking skills, gather new recipes and develop a fresh appreciation for cooking.
In addition to decorating cakes, students learn to bake pastries, breads and cakes. They practice preparing many different breads, particularly sweet breads, along with different patterns and designs. For cakes, students practice creating flowers and using other decorations while experimenting with flavoring and the nutritional value of frosting.
This course allows students to prepare many popular recipes in several cooking styles, including Asian, Mediterranean and traditional American cuisine. In addition to studying flavors, techniques and ingredients commonly used in the different cooking styles, students practice by preparing their own meals. They experience multiple cooking traditions by preparing, tasting, serving and evaluating multiple dishes from each area studied.
Table Service and Meal Management
Through this class, students take turns acting as customers, servers, managers and cooks; this gives them the opportunity to experience meal preparation from multiple perspectives. Cooks prepare meals as ordered; servers make sure the correct food is provided to customers; managers make sure the meal preparation is completed in a timely manner and that the food appears edible. Customers evaluate the meal and the service, often providing tips on meal preparation. This process allows students to understand how food on the menu should be prepared and presented so it is aesthetically pleasing and tastes good.