WIC Healthy Meal Challenge

In an effort to add gamification components to her courses and create memorable learning experiences for her students, Jennifer Estes, a North Carolina FACS teacher, created this WIC Healthy Meal Challenge. You’ll have to check out this lesson as it promotes student engagement, risk taking, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, in addition to covering Jennifer’s course standards!


  • This lesson was developed for Jennifer’s Foods 2 students (grades 9-12) as they study nutrients more in-depth and cover nutrition across the life cycle. It would work for any age range and allows the flexibility to incorporate prior knowledge on nutrients, myplate, menu planning, budgeting, food availability, even regional and global cuisine depending on the teacher’s focus. It could also be used as a pretest to test student knowledge about balanced meals and creativity.


  • Begin with a quick 3 minute research on what can be purchased in your state using a WIC voucher.
  • Have a table set up with items which may be purchased including foods from each food group.
  • Give students a minute or two to review the items you have available and formulate an initial plan to create a meal of their choice in the allotted time (set a finish time).


  • iPads or Laptops
  • Lab equipment & Ingredients
  • Judges (optional)


  • Pass out plates (cafeteria plates are a fun addition) and allow students to shop for ingredients.
  • Ask review questions and allow winners of each round to pick an item from the table to include in their meal. Then others are allowed an item, ie. 1 egg, apple or etc. Keep reviewing until students have selected food from each group to build their meal.
  • Have students take a picture of their ingredients to compare and analyze to their final dish.
  • Provide equipment and free access to spices and herbs with exception of salt (limit- 1 fast food pack would be ideal). Allow up to 1 tsp of butter or oil and/or 1 tsp. sugar. This keeps the focus on nutrition.
  • Introduce a few new options after students have selected their items to increase creativity, problem solving and growth mindset (a strawberry or etc.). Allow students to barter or share ingredients.
  • Encourage students to be flexible and allow them to change their original idea to make it better.
  • Set cooking time and walk around interviewing students like on a cooking show to have them verbalize and process their steps. This allows for scaffolding and prompting to correct learning gaps.
  • Judges are a great addition to create an authentic audience. Students present and describe their dish. Criteria for judging includes: healthy well balanced meal, taste, texture, aroma and creativity. *Note–if you’re not using judges, students can still describe their meal to a classmate.
  • Have students take a picture of their final product and complete a reflection slide (in the lesson) or additional activity to evaluate and reflect on their lab and meal.
  • Students could create a flipgrid describing their finished product, present to judges or share their dish with the class.


  • Set the stage like on a game show!
  • Display your ingredients so students can shop for their meal. It is ok to have random amounts of ingredients, that adds to the fun. It’s a great way to use up random items you have on hand. Also, a great use of extra food items students waste from their breakfast and lunch (milk, juice, fruit & etc.)
  • Have a mix of items from each food group.
  • Prepare your trivia questions ahead of time [excellent for reviewing whatever focus you are placing on the lab. ei. Which food group is an excellent source of calcium? (dairy) Why should half of your grains be whole wheat? (contains fiber which aids your digestive system)]
  • As you facilitate the learning process roam the room and have students describe the meal they are preparing. Students feel like they are on television as well as it helps them process and think through their process.
  • Play challenging music as students come in the door and/or prepare for the lab.


  • WIC Lab–Healthy Meal Challenge (please make a copy)
  • Friendly Reminder: To make a copy, go to “FILE”, click “MAKE A COPY” and then it’s yours to edit.
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