I have always loved cooking (and eating) so it makes sense that food topics were always my favorite as a child. Apart from my personal obsession with food though, I believe that talking about food and engaging students in food-related activities is one of the best ways to teach them a variety of different things.
Food and Grammar
1) Writing down a recipe is one of my personal favorites to practice both present simple and present continuous. Recipes also provide the students with the opportunity to use the vocabulary of cooking and they don’t even have to be written down! Students can create a PowerPoint presentation of their recipe, a slideshow or even a video of themselves cooking!
2) If you need an activity that combines 2 or 3 tenses, you can ask your students to design a timeline of their own food habits. They can write about the types of food they used to eat, what they eat now, different cuisines they have already tried and foods they will definitely try out in the future.
2) Play Kitchen Nightmares in the classroom and practice the conditionals! Divide the class in 2 groups and ask the students of the 1st group to imagine they are Gordon Ramsay or Ettore Botrini whereas the 2nd group are restaurant owners whose businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy. The second group has to recognise their own mistakes as restauranters using the 3rd conditional form (eg. If I hadn’t hired so many waiters, I would have saved a lot of money) whereas the Gordon Ramsays of the classroom will come up with suggestions that can help the restaurant improve using the 2nd conditional form (If your menu was more family-friendly, you would attract more customers.)
3) Talking about students’ eating habits can show them what they should/shouldn’t eat and provide great practice of the modals! Start out by handing out a questionnaire on eating habits in the class such as the following one: http://comeniusforave.blogspot.com/2008/04/our-eating-habits-questionnaire.html.
Then group their eating habits in good and bad ones and ask them to imagine they are nutritionists who have to suggest how the bad eating habits can become good ones.
Food and vocabulary
1) Bring your own food in the classroom! It’s truly the best way for students to get a real feel of what these cooking verbs really mean. The simplest dish you can prepare together is a salad or a sandwich if you really don’t have enough room or time to cook. Another alternative would be to make a “virtual” dish by using a bumper set of playfood.Mine is this great one by ELC
2)Play bingo in the classroom using food as your inspiration. You can create your own bingo cards with food verbs and nouns, countable and non-countable food and synonyms and antonyms for adjectives describing food. http://www.toolsforeducators.com/bingo
PS. Talking about food I’ve just run into the website of this great TV show. Check it out!