Calling Kid Chefs!

A recipe contest challenges kids to create healthy meals

Apr 05, 2013 | By Stephanie Kraus

Sam Hightower, 10, was one of the winners chosen in last year's Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

Are you a kid who enjoys cooking? Would you like to visit the White House? There’s a contest just for you!

For the second year in a row, First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The contest asks kids ages 8 to 12 and their guardians to submit original lunch recipes that are nutritious, delicious and affordable. One winner from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, will be invited to  attend the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House, where winning recipes will be served.

The First Lady announced the contest this week as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. “Last year’s young chefs impressed and inspired me with their creativity, and I can’t wait to welcome a whole new group to the White House this summer and taste their creations,” she said in an announcement. “So kids, let’s get cooking!”

Last year, more than 1,200 kids entered the contest. The 54 finalists enjoyed a three-course meal in the White House’s East Room, where fancy parties are thrown. Winning dishes included a fiesta casserole from Idaho, a rainbow salad from Colorado and a yummy summer soup from Alabama. Now the question is, will any of last year’s winners be back for seconds?

What’s in a Winning Meal?

Last year's Kids' State Dinner included healthy recipes for a cabbage Sloppy Joe, baked zucchini fries and a strawberry smoothie.
Last year's Kids' State Dinner included healthy recipes for a cabbage Sloppy Joe, baked zucchini fries and a strawberry smoothie.

The goal of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is to put together a collection of healthy recipes written by kids, for kids. The contest is a partnership between the White House, the departments of Education and Agriculture and the recipe website Epicurious.

Contest judges will look for lunches that are healthy, tasty and affordable. Meals should have items from each of the food groups, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein and low-fat dairy products. The foods can be combined into one recipe or used to create a meal that includes a main dish and side dishes.

Tanya Steel is the Editor-In-Chief of Epicurious. Last year, she helped choose the winning recipes. Her advice for kids?  “Be imaginative and creative and think seasonally!” she told TFK. “You don’t need to be complicated. The most important thing is to have fun!”

For ideas about how to prepare healthy meals, visit

Then enter the contest at The deadline is May 12.