Feast your eyes on the new requirements for Cooking merit badge

Cooking-EagleThe sound of the kitchen timer can only mean one thing: The new Cooking merit badge requirements are done.

For the new Cooking merit badge, which became Eagle-required on Jan. 1, 2014, Scouts will prepare meals using the MyPlate food guide, understand and explain food allergies, and learn about cooking food indoors.

This is important: there are two big, separate changes to Cooking merit badge as you know it. The first is that Cooking merit badge became Eagle-required beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The second is the new requirements, found below, which become mandatory for Scouts who begin the merit badge on or after Jan. 1, 2015.

The new Cooking pamphlets will be in Scout Shops by the end of January 2014. From now until Dec. 31, 2014, a Scout may use the old or new requirements — his choice. All Scouts beginning Cooking merit badge on or after Jan. 1, 2015, must use the new requirements.

Let me break it down: 

  • Scouts who already started Cooking MB using old requirements: They’re fine and may finish with the old requirements. They will not need to re-earn the merit badge with the new requirements, but they may switch to the new ones if they choose. There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.
  • Scouts who already earned Cooking MB: They may purchase or be presented with the new, silver-bordered Cooking MB patch (regardless which requirements were involved). They don’t need to re-earn it now that it’s Eagle-required. But they can’t wear both the green- and the silver-bordered versions.
  • Scouts who begin Cooking MB in 2013 or 2014: They may use the old or new requirements — their choice.
  • Scouts who begin Cooking MB in 2015 or beyond: They must use the new requirements.

Make sense? Think of 2014 as a transition period for the merit badge. During this time, you’ll find both pamphlets in Scout Shops, and a boy may choose which to use. It’s easy to tell them apart:


The new Cooking merit badge requirements


  1. Do the following:
    1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in cooking activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
    2. Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while preparing meals and eating, including burns and scalds, cuts, choking, and allergic reactions.
    3. Describe how meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy products, and fresh vegetables should be stored, transported, and properly prepared for cooking. Explain how to prevent cross-contamination.
    4. Describe the following food-related illnesses and tell what you can do to help prevent each from happening:
      1. Salmonella
      2. Staphylococcal aureus
      3. Escherichia coli (E. coli)
      4. Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)
      5. Campylobacter jejuni
      6. Hepatitis
      7. Listeria monocytogenes
      8. Cryptosporidium
      9. Norovirus
    5. Discuss with your counselor food allergies, food intolerance,
      food-related diseases, and your awareness of these concerns.
  2. Do the following:
    1. Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, give five examples for EACH of the following food groups, the recommended number of daily servings, and the recommended serving size:
      1. Fruits
      2. Vegetables
      3. Grains
      4. Proteins
      5. Dairy
    2. Explain why you should limit your intake of oils and sugars.
    3. Determine your daily level of activity and your caloric need based on your activity level. Then, based on the MyPlate food guide, discuss with your counselor an appropriate meal plan for yourself for one day.
    4. Discuss your current eating habits with your counselor and what you can do to eat healthier, based on the MyPlate food guide.
  3. Do the following:
    1. Discuss the following food label terms: calorie, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugar, protein. Explain how to calculate total carbohydrates and nutritional values for two servings, based on the serving size specified on the label.
    2. Refer to “How to Read a Food Label” in the Cooking merit badge pamphlet, and name ingredients that help the consumer identify the following allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, and shellfish.
  4. Do the following:
    1. Discuss EACH of the following cooking methods. For each one, describe the equipment needed and name at least one food that can be cooked using that method: baking, boiling, pan frying, simmering, steaming, microwaving, and grilling.
    2. Discuss the benefits of using a camp stove on an outing vs. a charcoal or wood fire.
    3. Discuss how the Outdoor Code and no-trace principles pertain
      to cooking in the outdoors.

Note: The meals prepared for Cooking merit badge requirements 5, 6, and 7 will count only toward fulfilling those requirements and will not count toward rank advancement. Meals prepared for rank advancement may not count toward the Cooking merit badge. You must not repeat any menus for meals actually prepared or cooked in requirements 5, 6, and 7.

  1. Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, plan a menu for three full days of meals (three breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners) plus one dessert. Your menu should include enough to feed yourself and at least one adult, keeping in mind any special needs (such as food allergies) of those to be served. List the equipment and utensils needed to prepare and serve these meals. Then do the following:
    1. Create a shopping list for your meals showing the amount of food needed to prepare and serve each meal, and the cost for each meal.
    2. Share and discuss your meal plan and shopping list with your counselor.
    3. Using at least five of the seven cooking methods from requirement 4, prepare and serve yourself and at least one adult (parent, family member, guardian, or other responsible adult) one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and one dessert from the meals you planned.*
    4. Time your cooking to have each meal ready to serve at the proper time. Have an adult verify the preparation of the meal to your counselor.
    5. After each meal, ask a person you served to evaluate the meal on presentation and taste, then evaluate your own meal. Discuss what you learned with your counselor, including any adjustments that could have improved or enhanced your meals. Tell how better planning and preparation help ensure a successful meal.
    6. Explain how you kept foods safe and free from cross-contamination.
  2. Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, plan a menu for your patrol (or a similar size group of up to eight youth, including you) for a camping trip. Include five meals AND at least one snack OR one dessert. List the equipment and utensils needed to prepare and serve these meals. Then do the following:
    1. Create a shopping list for your meals showing the amount of food needed to prepare and serve each meal, and the cost for each meal.
    2. Share and discuss your meal plan and shopping list with your counselor.
    3. In the outdoors, cook two of the meals you planned in requirement 6 using either a lightweight stove or a low-impact fire. Use a different cooking method for each meal.** The same fireplace may be used for both meals. Serve this meal to your patrol or a group of youth.
    4. In the outdoors, cook one of the meals you planned in requirement 6. Use either a Dutch oven, OR a foil pack, OR kabobs. Serve this meal to your patrol or a group of youth.**
    5. In the outdoors, prepare a dessert OR a snack and serve it to your patrol or a group of youth.**

* The meals for requirement 5 may be prepared on different days, and they need not be prepared consecutively. The requirement calls for Scouts to plan, prepare, and serve one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner to at least one adult; those served need not be the same for all meals.

** Where local regulations do not allow you to build a fire, the counselor may adjust the requirement to meet the law. The meals in requirements 6 and 7 may be prepared for different trips and need not be prepared consecutively. Scouts working on this badge in summer camp should take into consideration foods that can be obtained at the camp commissary.

    1. After each meal, have those you served evaluate the meal on presentation and taste, and then evaluate your own meal. Discuss what you learned with your counselor, including any adjustments that could have improved or enhanced your
      meals. Tell how better planning and preparation help ensure successful outdoor cooking.
    2. Explain how you kept foods safe and free from cross contamination.
  1. Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, plan a menu for trail hiking or backpacking that includes one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and one snack. These meals must not require refrigeration and are to be consumed by three to five people (including you). List the equipment and utensils needed to prepare and serve these meals. Then do the following:
    1. Create a shopping list for your meals, showing the amount of food needed to prepare and serve each meal, and the cost for each meal.
    2. Share and discuss your meal plan and shopping list with your counselor. Your plan must include how to repackage foods for your hike or backpacking trip to eliminate as much bulk, weight, and garbage as possible.
    3. While on a trail hike or backpacking trip, prepare and serve two meals and a snack from the menu planned for requirement 7. At least one of those meals must be cooked over a fire, or an approved trail stove (with proper supervision).**
    4. For each meal prepared in requirement 7c, use safe foodhandling practices. Explain how you kept foods safe and free from cross-contamination. Clean up equipment, utensils, and the site thoroughly after each meal. Properly dispose of dishwater, and pack out all garbage.
    5. After each meal, have those you served evaluate the meal on presentation and taste, then evaluate your own meal. Discuss what you learned with your counselor, including any adjustments that could have improved or enhanced your meals. Tell
      how better planning and preparation help ensure successful trail hiking or backpacking meals.
  2. Find out about three career opportunities in cooking. Select one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by MC =)


        • myplate.gov according to my doctors is not a good site for serious healthly choices. The myplate.gov was set up by the Department of Agriculture, not by the Department of Health, so the information in the old and newly revised is there ONLY so you make purchasing choices, not proper diet choices per se.

      • Bryan, I note that meals cannot be double counted for Rank Advancement and the Merit Badge requirements. Is this also true of other Merit Badges? We have some ASMs that are Merit Badge counselors get the boys to do the MB requirement, and then counting that for Rank Advancement as well, or vice versa. I thought they had to stand on their own, but am willing to stand corrected if “doubling up” is allowed….

  1. I think the new revision is excellent. It seems a lot more pointed and relevant now. I earned the “old” Cooking MB in 2010.

  2. I see trouble ahead…It’s hard enough to plan trips around what the scouts need for their trail to First Class. This could be a nightmare to plan for in order to allow the boys to do enough cooking and so forth to make it count separately for this MB. We only do 10 campouts per year (as most troops do). Any ideas on what your troops are going to do (besides counting on summer camp and so forth)?

    • Patrols should be doing their own cooking during the campouts. Patrols are 6-8 Scouts. You should be able to fit it into your program.

    • I have never had a Scout use First Class cooking requirements for Cooking MB. For the most part, this is because no one has been worrying about Cooking MB in the first year when they are working on Scouting skills for rank. Also, the requirement are a little different – for First Class they “help plan a menu” and the serve as the Patrol cook and supervise their assistant(s).

      At 10 campouts a year, not counting summer camp, each boy in a typical Patrol will have sufficient opportunities over three years. (Most of the Eagles in our Troop have 60+ nights camping.) Also, don’t read in more than is in the requirement; requirement 6 says “in the outdoors.” That could be on a campout, but doesn’t have to be. The trail hike(s) for #7 can also be day trips.

      The opportunity to cook won’t be the sticking point – planning proper menus in advance and being prepared to capitalize on the opportunities when they arise are the tough parts.

    • Bill…no kidding Sherlock. Rufus…I hope you are right about it not being “onerous.” (Who says “onerous?”) Mike – Thank you. I agree that the planning will be the difficult part…we are a newer troop (though I have been doing this a long time)…we don’t do many hiking trips…yet. I guess we will just have to see how it goes!!

    • I’m going to agree with Jason, why not count rank requirements just like we do for camping MB? I can now imagine scouts competing to be the “cooks” which would be a nice change but I’m not sure they can all be accommodated. I see “some” flexibility that it doesn’t require it be a full TROOP event but that seems to be the spirit of the requirement. In New Hampshire with snow and freezing temps we do monthly events but real hikes are not as frequent as troops down south.

      • Hi Michael-
        I checked with the BSA National Advancement team – and you should not the “first class” cooking requirements as having satisfied the “camping merit badge” cooking requirements. The reason I asked is that they are written differently, and I noticed our summer camp was very lax on awarding completion of requirements to scouts and the camp was inconsistent, so I asked for clarification.

        I’ve also asked whether the cooking MB requirements should count towards camping MB, but I haven’t received a response. I’d be curious if anyone has.

  3. Thanks Bryan!
    With respect to this note:

    “Note: The meals prepared for Cooking merit badge requirements 5, 6, and 7 will count only toward fulfilling those requirements and will not count toward rank advancement. Meals prepared for rank advancement may not count toward the Cooking merit badge. You must not repeat any menus for meals actually prepared or cooked in requirements 5, 6, and 7.”

    I get that meals used for rank advancement can’t be used, that would be your First Class cooking requirements. What about the cooking requirements in Camping MB? I’d lean towards not allowing it, but I don’t want to add requirements if my interpretation is wrong.

    The meal prep requirements are a bit less intense than the earlier requirements, especially requirement #6.

    • As long as the requirement does not forbid it and it really is the same work, you can count it for both. See the Guide to Advancement section Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity

      • I totally agree with Bill on this one. Even at some of our MB Academies we’ve had a couple of merit badges offered by the same counselor and completed at the same time. This should be no different. The issue was the lessor requirements for 1st Class counting in place of the more complicated MB requirements.

  4. Thank you! We appreciate your diligence in following this and keeping us advised. It’s been a bit of a wait, but it’s clear that a lot of work went into these requirements. And the extra year with both sets of requirements will make life easier for all concerned. Keep up the good work.
    (Just as an aside, my dog helped me at the keyboard on my previous comment and dispatched it in mid-edit. I don’t recommend Golden Retrievers for editorial work :-D)

  5. Thank You for the heads-up Bryan. This will give me time to prepare before I begin teaching the MB with the new requirements in February. Your updates on all things Scouting are great!

      • We’ve got 22 scouts who need this badge, plus 10 Webelos coming in over the next 12 months. There are not NEARLY enough camping trips for them all to do it individually.

        • Scouts can start the cooking merit badge with the old requirements throughout 2014 which should help those who might want to adjust their program to accommodate the new requirements transition.

        • You have 22 scouts plus 10 webelos. 32 scouts. They have six years to do it. Let’s say your typical patrol cooking group is six boys. 12 campouts per year (minimum) Let’s say you have a sack dinner, so really only one boy can cook over the weekend. But for six boys in a patrol, that yes, they each have two opportunities per year to cook – so EVERY YEAR EVERYONE IN YOUR TROOP COULD EARN THIS. with a minimum number of camping opportunities. You run into issues when you have big patrols or you don’t camp often. This is not onerous.

        • Even then, the requirements call for cooking multiple meals. Each cooking requirement 6,7 asks you to prepare MULTIPLE meals. I don’t see how they’ll get through all of this one at a time per patrol.

        • Hi Hank: 12 campouts per year. Saturday 3 meals. Sunday breakfast. That’s four meals. That’s 48 meals per year. It’s more if you cook Friday dinner or Sunday lunch. Divided by six scouts in a patrol: that’s a minimum of 8 meals cooked by each scout. There is plenty of opportunity for EVERY scout to cook all the required meals EVERY YEAR for the cooking merit badge, as long as they go camping. And, they have SIX or SEVEN years to do this before they turn 18. If they don’t go camping, then yes, this is difficult to meet the requirements.

        • Whats the rush… they don’t knock out this merit badge in a weekend. I am glad that this one became Eagle required. 11 camp outs a year.. that’s 33 camping opportunities in 3 years.. you can get this one in… it’s not like you are doing it as a group. Your counselors only have to work with those Scouts that fill out the blue card and want to work it.
          Plenty of time..
          Thanks Bryan for the info

        • Seriously, they don’t all need the badge this year……

          so look at your program…..

          11 camping weekends a year 4 or 5 meals per trip…..55 oppurtunities per year time 7 years that is over three hundred chances to cook for their patrol.

          Seems pretty doable to me.

        • I think the people worrying about this are thinking like cub scouts where everyone is working on advancement lock step together. Camping MB requires 20 nights camped: so if you divide that by six members of a patrol, you get a chance to cook on 3 camping trips! Everyone will have plenty of opportunities to cook by simply camping the minimum number of times required to get Eagle.

        • These new requirements do not seem to have been implemented with adequate consultation at the troop level across a variety of troop sizes & styles.

          For those who insist the new requirements are easily doable, that presumes that every scout is available to go on a camping trip at the time that they will have their opportunity to plan and cook for the patrol. The math that allows this presumes near-perfect availability, and prioritizing cooking above all else. Realistically, scouts sometimes cannot go on all the trips they’d want to, nor are they always able to be a patrol cook (e.g. they have another priority duty for the trip, like SPL, event planner, etc.). It also presumes far more trail/backpacking style campouts per year than are normal in many troops. Yeah, all boys should be able to complete it in three years, so long as new boys only join the troop every three years so as not to also compete for patrol cook slots.

          The danger is that troops will either cut corners (which teaches boys it’s OK to cheat? great…) or that it will frustrate hardworking boys away from the program. I’m already watching our troop leaders try to jam everyone through the old requirements before this takes effect simply because they know this will create a problem. Bottom Line – National needs to relook this before it becomes entrenched. There are many ways to soften this – allow joint food preparation, double up requirements, reduce the number of meals, etc.

    • But I would say a second scout can be making his desert while scout 1 is cooking his meal. And as camp cook he can certainly have assistance iin cooking just one scout gets MB credit…but 1st Class says help prepare a meal doesn’t it?

  6. I am trying to copy the cooking merit badge image and I can’t. I need to place the image on my troop website. I have done this for all the other merit badges. When the image is clicked on it is linked to the requirements.

  7. I had no problem copying the image. I simply right clicked on the image; used the copy image on the pop-up menu; went to Microsoft Word and pasted the image. I also used the save image as on the pop-up menu and it allowed me to save the image.

  8. Greetings, for those Scouts who already own that badge, are they will be able to exchange it for the new badge?

  9. Umm lets do the math, yes most Scouts will have 60+ nights of camping by the time they reach Eagle, but that includes 30+ nights of long term camping where the opportunity to cook and fulfill the requirements have always been tough. So realistically we are talking about 30-35 nights. Still not bad, untill you factor in Rank advancement cooking prior to First Class, and needing leadership time after First Class, both of which eat up camping nights. It is after all kind of tough to cook while acting as Patrol Leader, ASPL, SPL etc. On the average weekend campout (two nights) you only have four meals, Saturday Breakfast-Lunch-Diner and Sunday Breakfast for 6-8 boys. You need more than 12 nights just to get through the 1st Class requirements which will leave 3 nights at best for Cooking MB, and quick count looks like 5 nights to get two boys done with outdoor cooking for the MB. People are going to cut corners on this because it simply won’t fit.

    • Depends on where you do your long-term camping. Where we go to summer camp (Cole Canoe Base in MI), they don’t have a dining hall and all the meals are prepared by the scouts at our campsite. Agree that not cooking at summer camp cuts down on your available nights, but it should still be possible.

    • Deligation of authority! On a campout where your SPL, ASPL or PL is needing to cook, have him assign the responsibility to another scout while he’s cooking.

      With 1st Class it looks like he’s supposed to plan a menu for a full campout but he only has to serve as the cook for 1 meal. They can all come up with their own menues for a breakfast lunch and dinner and then on your average campout 4 boys will be able to complete that requiremnet so it will only take 2 campouts to get the 8 boys in a patrol done with the 1st Class requirement! Easy Peesy!

      Also, like another post above, go on a day hike or hold an activity one night at your scouting location and have somebody cook a meal. Doesn’t say you have to cook on a campout just in the outdoors. And you only need to deal with 3 meals and a desert. Cook the desert on a 4th campout or in conjuction with one of their meals Doesn’t say they have to be seperate that I can see!

      Req 5 looks like that can be done at home for the scout and a parent (or as in my case 2 parents and 4 siblings) Mom gets the night off!!!

  10. Thanks Brian. It would be great if the advancement team would also add some clarification in around whether you can “double dip” and count the cooking requirements for this mb against the camping mb. If you can – then you should probably just go ahead and eliminate cooking altogether from the Camping MB because any who knows this will take the easy route.

    • I agree, any who knows will think ahead and kill two birds with one stone! Nothing wrong with that at all! Our boys work on Personal Fitness and Sports for one, Metal Working and Welding, etc. If the boys actually sit down and think before tackling a MB they may find opportunities to invest their time wisely. That would be an excellent lesson for them to learn before they head off to college too!

  11. Strange term: in requirement 7 it says that the cooking should be done while “trail hiking or backpacking” What do they mean by “trail hiking”? That you go out on a day hike, cook your meal, and then head back home? That seems kind of an odd way to phrase the requirement for the normal scout. It seems like a way to still earn the MB but never go backpacking. But I was wondering: is this a way to manage this requirement for scouts who are physically incapable of backpacking without having to go and get an exception? Wouldn’t it be more clear to write it that way: explicitly add that if you are physically unable to backpack that you may perform this cooking in a wilderness setting that the scout can manage to transport themselves to and the counselor agrees upon? Not that I have any immediate issue with the requirement, but in the past we’ve had scouts in our troop who were confined to a wheelchair.

    • Excellent question. For scouts with disabilities, discuss with your district advancement chair about getting a waiver an possibly substituting requirements. Spoiler alert: this will involve getting a doctor’s report and the agreement of parent and scout. Sometimes the hardest part is scouts at this level won’t want to waive the requirements when they really should for safety’s sake.

  12. Perfect timing on this showing up. We have a couple boys who will need this to make Eagle before they age out this spring and several others who of course will need it for the future so I was preparing to do a cooking class starting in January anyway.
    However I do see problems with the number of different meals and the overlapping requirements between the various badges and ranks. We are a small, as in very small troop. Because of that we take only 3-4 backpacking trips per year. When we do go, there might be only 3-4 boys on the trip. I see it coming where it takes so long to get all the requirements in that boys just say the heck with it.

    • So what’s wrong with that? A boy sees the First Aid requirements and doesn’t like blood and guts. Says the same thing.
      Backpacking meals are usually for 3-4 scouts. If your troop has eight scouts, that’s two cooks per meal. Your troop has a lock on this badge!

    • If they’re going to quit because it ‘takes too long’ they really need to look at what they want out of life, not just scouting.

      • Scouts can use the old requirements to start the badge throughout 2014. So use the old requirements if the new ones won’t work out for your Scouts.

      • My concern is they won’t “quit” so much as just forget about earning the badge. Who’s going to track which kid has cooked which meal over a several year period? We already have kids with merit badges open for two -three years that they’ve simply moved beyond.
        I don’t object to the cooking requirement and have figured out how to get 90% of it. Heck I believe every kid should learn to cook and am glad they’ve made it an Eagle requirement. It’s that requirement to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner, & snack while on a hike or backpacking trip that adds the complication.

        • Hi Jim- In theory, boys should track the work done. It is easiest if they could complete it on a single backpacking trip and then have the requirement signed off on the blue card. In our troop, I know one of the cooking MB counselors keeps a spreadsheet of the work completed by each scout. She set up the spreadsheet to track each meal. (But as I said -i t should be the boy who tracks it.)

    • If you only have 3 or 4 boys on a backpacking trip and then you only on 3 or 4 backpacking trips per year – the ratio is perfect. Those who go backpacking each have an opportunity to fulfill the requirement each year. Those who don’t go backpacking can’t meet the cooking requirement, so there’s no problem.

  13. Since I have been involved the last 9 months we have not done any back packing. We are a small unit and come from a mid income level. It is hard for us to have the right equipment for a regular camp let alone back packing stoves ect. We are also a unit that does not camp over Sunday, so that only gives us Friday night meal and 2 meals on Saturday if the time even allows that.

  14. Where does the new cooking mb fall into place as far as required eagle? Are they adding this mb to increase the number of required eagle mb? If so, Will it change the numbers of required for advancement to 1st, life , star or just added on to the eagle required?

    • Num required is one more, electives is one less. At conferences, I’ve just explained to boys to take their old book and write required by a blank line that doesn’t currently have it. I can’t recall I exactly which rank is going to have the increase.

    • The Eagle Rank on 1/1/14 will have one more required badge and one less optional one. The Star rank stays with 4 Eagle Required and 2 optional (a total of 6) and Life rank stays with 3 Eagle Required and 2 optional (a total of 5 more which makes a grand total of 11); for Eagle a Scout will need 6 more Eagle Required and 4 optional ones for a total of 10 more badges than they already have (a total of 13 Eagle required and 8 optional, a grand total of 21 badges. I hope this helps.

  15. The grandfathering of the older requirements is fine. The failure is not grandfathering in Life Scouts. They should not be required to do this badge to get their Eagle. I know a few that have all their Eagle required merit badges done and are about to move on toward their Eagle project when this came up. When rank advancement requirements changed in the past the boys that were working towards the next rank were grandfathered with the requirements they were already working on.

  16. A get around, I think, for getting these things knocked out in a short period of time for some of the boys would be to have them volunteer at Cub Scout Summer Day Camps in their districts and have them do the various meals for lunch time for the Cub Scouts. They’d have to coordinate with the dens/patrols at day camp as far as a pass through cost and learn of any dietary issues with those dens/patrols they’d get assigned to.

  17. Does it say in the requirements, “During freezing temperatures and possibly other extreme weather conditions, build your outdoor fire and try to get a backpacking stove to light on the snow”? “Stand outdoors in freezing weather and cook your meals?” Because in some states (NH), that is what we are talking about if a scout were to try to get these requirements done right now in December. We are not in Texas! We will have to bend the spirit of these requirements so we are focused on cooking and not winter survival. I imagine we’ll do a quick hike around the church lot, come into the church kitchen and use backpacking stoves. We’ll cook outdoors near a heated structure so scouts can come in and get warm. National should be aware that we are not all in Texas. If a kid needs this for Eagle, lets make them doable 365 days a year. We are an active troop in our area and we do 1-2 backpacking trips a year. Simplifying the badge doesn’t “water it down”. Scouts should be getting a flavor for a potential career, hobby, or special interest. We are not creating Chefs. There are a lot of meals required for many people. This will create a financial burden on the scout when not done with a troop sharing the expenses.

    • Hi Michael- A scout has his whole scouting career to earn this. There is plenty of time to cook 9 meals for this merit badge, 3 for first class, and 3 more meals for camping MB. In a patrol of six people – EVERY PERSON could cook that number of meals over the course of two years if you camp every month. Every person is not going to need to cook that much – as some will completed first class, the cooking MB, or the camping MB, leaving even more opportunities for those who still have yet to complete the requirements. There’s nothing to prevent you from completing some of the requirements in doors during the winter. The cooking in #5 can be done indoors as far as I can tell from reading the requirements.

  18. A couple of comments
    The numbering structure of 1-4-5 is a lot more confusing than those of previous merit badges 1-A-3

    In requirement 1-4-2 shouldn’t it be Staplylococcus aureus instead of Staphylococcal aureus. Staphylococcal typically refers to something caused by Staphyloccus.

  19. Looking over the new cooking mb requirements I think are still missing the point. I really think the my ahold be divided into two different mbs: one that concentrates mainly on outdoor cooking and another to concentrate on “cooking for life” more for indoors, formal, casual, planning, preparing, serving, leaning up for day to day, parties, and special events. This is a huge merit badge and could easily be divided and really provide scouts with both outdoor and life cooking skills.

  20. Looking over the new cooking mb requirements I don’t see much benefit with the changes to really benefit the boys, I think we are still missing the opportunity to provide real life skills. I have suggested and will continue to suggest that the mb be divided into two different mbs: one that concentrates mainly on outdoor cooking (using campstoves, dutch ovens and oudoors equipment and skills) and another to concentrate on “cooking for life” more for indoors, for both formal and casual settings. It could still include planning, purchasing, preparing, serving, cleaning up and such but emphasize those skills needed for day to day cooking and could also include preparing foods for parties and special events using microwaves, ovens, and such. This is a huge merit badge and could easily be divided so that scouts are learning life skills for both outdoor and indoor day to day life cooking skills.

    • I think that you may have missed something in the requirements. Req 5 can cover indoor cooking, req 6 is outdoor patrol cooking, and req 7 is backpacking low impact cooking. I actually think that this provides a good structure and emphasizes the right aspects of cooking such as safe handling and allergies.

      • …except that they learn zero actual cooking skills. No knife skills, no boil vs. simmer, or you use this type of pan for this task. Too much nutrition science and not enough useful knowledge. I just taught this badge and it’s a disaster.

    • I agree with you Mr. Boyce. Two merit badges focusing on indoor and outdoor cooking would be a good idea. Also I feel that as important as the safety/ sanitation requirements are, they go a little overboard.

      • 90% of America can’t pronounce the bacteria listed. Knowing which bacteria comes from what source and how deadly it is – should not be a core requirement.

        Food safety needs to concentrate on proper sanitation of hands, utensils, surfaces and foods to be used. As well as proper storage. That will take care of illness from the kitchen. Feel free to include a requirement to recognize common signs of food illness that need immediate medical attention.

    • There are cooking ‘skills’ that are not easily taught outdoors, but are valuable for later in life. An indoor vs. outdoor focus could be one way to handle this. Example: We take 2 cooking knives with our troop on outings (large and small); but knife sets are sold in 8/12/15 item sets. Learning what each knife is actually for, and how to handle each one is something valuable.

      Another example would be greater understanding of either how professional food kitchens, grocery areas, and/or different levels in the food supply chain work today. If I take scouts to somewhere where they can talk to someone about how a professional deals with processing food – it only partially counts for one requirement. But the impact on learning what is in our food and where it comes from – that can be huge for a city-based scout. We have lost the ‘farm’ in a lot of our culture in the US – it was there in 1910 but just isn’t as accessible anymore.

  21. A tracking tool and meal rating card or guidelines would be helpful for the counselor and boys to help in tracking and evaluating the meals/snacks prepared. I’ll be interested to see when the merit badge worksheets and book are available if these are included.

    • Cooking is a life skill that everyone needs to know. Any individual will have more need for cooking then he will many of the other skills learned learning other required merit badges. I’ve wondered since when I was in scouting why it wasn’t required.

      • msradell are you serious? No wonder the boy scouts are declining in enrollment. This should stay as an elctive. We are slowly taking away the scouts choice. I can think of 10 other merit badges more important than cooking. Or how about we have some new ones like dress making or nail care.. Maybe we could have them take a trip to the mall. See the pattern here. We need to focus on letting the boys decide….

        • This merit badge was removed as an eagle required in 1972. As an eagle scout from 1987, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a required and was surpised to see that it was an elective. I personally am very happy to see it back in it’s rightful place among the silver borders!

          Granted, why would a boy ever want to learn how to cook when they can just spend mom and dad’s money on fast food … wait, they won’t always have that wallet to dip into will they?

          I love to cook and am hoping to work with my scouts so they learn to enjoy it too. My Woodbadge Ticket is to teach them how to use the Dutch Oven. I hope YOU weren’t serious in your reply to msradell. How being able to cook relates to dress making (they should be able to sew on a button at least) and mall shopping I don’t quite understand!

          There are a ton of merit badges for them to still pick from, I don’t see it being too onerous for them to learn what most of them are already working on anyway.

  22. Thanks to discuss the new requirements for cooking. They will be really very useful to all the people who are reading this article. Some days ago, I have a thought to have such guidelines for cooking and luckily today I came across your article. I will definitely follow your instructions.

    Thanks again.

  23. If a scout is starting the merit badge in 2014, can he mix and match requirements between old and new? Or, must scout follow ONLY the old format or ONLY new format during this time?

    • All merit badges are signed off by registered merit badge counselors for that merit badge. Scoutmasters are not automatically a merit badge counselor for any merit badge. They have to register as a MBC for a badge they want to counsel. That isn’t anything new. It has been that way for years.

      If the requirements for any badge can be done on a camp site at summer camp by a SM then the SM should register as a MBC for that badge.

      For all badges: do what the requirements say to pass the requirement: no more, no less is required.

  24. I have a question that I’m hoping someone can clarify. My son’s troop does not have a MB Counselor for Cooking yet. Can he have his camp meals verified by his troop’s SM & have them signed off by a counselor who wasn’t there to witness it? I’m sure in time the troop will get someone, but right now there isn’t one and even when they do get one I doubt the adult will be available at every camp out.

    • That would be up to the MB Counselor. Don’t assume anything. No guarantees here. The first thing he should do is to talk with his Scoutmaster and have the Scoutmaster find and recommend a Cooking Merit Badge Counselor for him. Then he can ask his Counselor.

    • There are a few merit badges like Cooking & Camping that our Troop does as a group without the need of a counselor. We cover the majority of the requirements simply by attending outings. In the case of cooking, we actually cover everyone of the requirements (except for the new stuff) during our week long summer camp. Usually after 6-9 months boys have achieved the badges.

      • How can the boys earn the badge without a counselor signing off on the application? Sounds like something is wrong somewhere.

  25. My son completed his Eagle project in Dec 2013. He has to finish writing it up and present it to Eagle BOR. Does he have to earn the Cooking MB now that it is 2014? He has not earned it previously.

    • Hi Larry –

      The rule here is that if your son completed all requirements for Eagle, had his scoutmaster conference, and submitted his paperwork to the council office before January 1, 2014, he is not required to earn the cooking merit badge. This is true even if his board is scheduled for 2014. Congratulations and Good Luck!

    • My understanding is that if he completed his scoutmaster conference and ALL the requirements prior to January 1st, then he could complete and submit the paperwork later. As a scoutmaster, to me that means the scout would have had to have completed his Eagle project workbook and obtained the signatures of the beneficiary indicating that the project was satisfactorily completed. It means that the six months of leadership was completed prior to January 1st, and it means that the scout had participated in his Eagle scoutmaster conference prior to January 1st. We have one scout in our troop that elected not to finish his project write up and hold a scoutmaster conference before the new year began and must now earn the cooking merit badge.

  26. I am a merit badge counselor for this badge and I am not active in a troop. Is it OK to have the boy explain, take photo’s and have a signed verification for each of the items he cooked with his troop that are required to complete this badge?

  27. Minor nitpick: Subrequirements should be lettered or numbered in a different style so that one does not get lost/confused in the requirements. On my first read through, I got lost between where Req. 6 ended and Req. 7 started, especially with the two asterisks notes in the middle of Req. 6.

  28. My son thought he was done and submitted the paperwork for Eagle. It appears that he now needs to complete the Cooking Badge to complete Eagle……he has performed some of the tasks listed as requirements such as planning meals, cooking meals, etc. These tasks were performed many times when he and his troop went to camp-outs, hikes, etc. Would those activities count towards the cooking badge although they were not originally performed to obtain the cooking badge. Can someone comment/advise please?

    • Yes! Anything done since he joined scouting can count. The meal preparation required for rank advancement cannot be counted again, but any other experience that meets the requirement will count. You may find a MB counselor is skeptical if your son isn’t able to provide sufficient detail about what he did beyond “I did all of those already”.

  29. Okay i get that we need to use one pamphlet book only. But, Myplate.gov has taken over and there is no access to the old way. So we have to use the new version now. Am I right?

  30. I really see no reason as a scout to do this merit badge. I have already done the requirements several times over and now I have to do them again with only 6 months left till I get my eagle. Scouting has become feminized ever since the homo issue.

      • Hank, he’s entitled to his opinion just like everyone else. No wonder Scouts are declining in enrollment. Cooking should stay as an elective!! I can think of 10 other merit badges more important than cooking. Adding this as an eagle requirement will only hurt the boy scouts.. Let’s see play hockey or go cooking this weekend???? tough choice for a boy…

        • um. Sorry Jimbob. Our troop never has an event “to go cooking”. But when we’re out doing other things like hiking and kayaking, we have to eat. It’s nice to have a hot meal. I don’t know who you think is going to cook it. The cooking merit badge isn’t difficult to get. It’s one of those things that the scouts will accomplish simply be participating. It’s only difficult for those who didn’t pay attention for the 18 months prior to it becoming a required MB that are whining.

        • Who ‘goes cooking’? When the boys are camping, they have to eat. No one is doing the cooking for them, and they’re not ordering pizza. If you think cooking is ‘feminine’ then you’re about a half century behind the times. Also, I suggest you look to the top chefs in the world. THe majority of them are men, and they have a lot of the qualities that you’d look for in an Eagle Scout, as well.

    • Mark, if you’ve done the work, you should be able to get the merit badge. All you need to do is review it with your counselor and show you’ve completed it and you’re good.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with the political correctness. I too am an eagle scout and this was a very important skill that I learned. If you want to cook like a man, you can always learn to cook on a rock, in a garbage can or break out the old Dutch Oven.

      As a father and scoutmaster, I think this is a skill every young man should know how to do. I can assure you that your future wife will greatly appreciate your ability to help her in the kitchen! It will also make more of a difference in the lives of your family if you can set such a high standard for them to follow!

  31. I believe that as a 13 year old star scout I really admire this merit badge fully agree that this is a skill needed in life to push forward rather that just outside and camping skills, it hones the inner skill as well, it should be split in two one for out doors and one for in doors. if your a eagle scout you should agree with what im saying. what if your cooking and you make someone sick . Remember Always Be Prepared if that’s out doors or in doors it applies to it all.
    And I don’t see how learning how to cook and not kill someone is a homo and feminized act!

  32. There are 28 pages of details to fill out not to mention new “critiquing” activity and lots of extra work. Our troop conducted “cooking” camp out for this merit badge and several people are still struggling through paperwork and little else. I would like to hear from people who have actually completed this merit badge and what/how they got through all the paperwork.

  33. “•Scouts who begin Cooking MB in 2013 or 2014: They may use the old or new requirements — their choice”

    Does anyone know if BSA has an official position or specific guidelines on what “Scouts who begin” means? Is it enough that the scout requests a signed merit badge card from his scoutmaster by December 31, 2014? Or must he get one requirement signed off by a MB counselor? Or 2 requirements? Or a certain percentage of requirements? This seems a little ambiguous and could cause some problems for scouts at the end of 2014. Thanks.

  34. Only an approved counselor should be signing off any merit badge. The process to become a counselor is fairly easy, fill out an adult application, with sponsoring organization rep sign-off, on-line youth protection, merit badge counselor form, and turn into scout office to do background check. Our council doesnt even charge a mb counselor the registration fee. If a person is already a merit badge counselor for another merit badge, your advancement chairman can work with you local council office to add or remove merit badges. Easy. Even a parent, if they fill out the paperwork and meet all requirements they too could be a merit badge counselor. I see no reason or excuse for having anyone but an approved counselor sign off merit badges.

    • I agree that this shouldn’t be a hard task to complete. A counselor signs off the card but that doesn’t mean that he has to taste every meal either. A scout is trustworthy is the way we look at this situation. If a boy does the work and has documented it and his SM or a parent or SPL or anybody else the counselor see’s fit can vouch for him, he should then be willing to sign the card. If they are using the workbooks and the information is filled in and he’s obviously has done the work, he’d have my signature.

      • Or have somebody (preferably the scout or the troop historian) take some pictures of the even to include the meal and what he has done! A picture is worth a thousand words…but maybe not a bite of peach cobler!

  35. The cooking merit badge is not just about cooking…it’s about learning nutrition, it’s about learning organizational and planning skills. It’s also about learning how much it costs to feed someone..at least in the old requirement #7 — “Using the menu planned for requirement 7, make a food list, showing cost and amount needed to feed yourself and at least one adult (parent, family member, guardian, or other responsible adult).” I have a male cousin who’s a chef and most chefs are actually men….just food for thought. I am a scout mom and have both a Boy Scout and Girl Scout. I am also the Girl Scout Troop’s leader and next year my troop will be taking formal cooking lessons…I believe it is a great life skill for both boys and girls to have. Also….think of this…some day these young boys will grow up and become young men…nothing like impressing a girl than cooking dinner for her 🙂

    • Oh…also want to add…one of the main reasons for scouts (both boys and girls) to learn cooking skills is to learn INDEPENDENCE.

  36. Am I the only one who has seen that there can not be refrigerated items prepared?

    If this is the case can we get some ideas (what to cook) for us that are new and were doing it the old way and have not yet started this.

  37. So I have seen several versions of a power point presentation. Has anyone seen or know of a power point presentation for the new 2014 version. I would love to get this.

  38. I am New cooking merit badge counselor
    I was reading the conversation above about not having enough camping nights for boys to prepare meals. why couldn’t the boys split up on the camp out. The requirement only states that they need to prepare food for 8 or more people. You could easily divide the scouts into groups and have more than one scout cooking a meal, especially if it is a large group. Also, the requirement says in the outdoors it does not say at a camp out so you could also have them prepare the food at a troop meeting outside in someones back yard.

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