Free cooking classes are happening for Rotorua's elderly, giving the opportunity to gain confidence, learn new skills and make friends.

The programme, Just Cook 4 Healthy Ageing, offers nutrition lessons which are designed to suit people later in life.

On Monday mornings the kitchen at the Linton Park Community Centre have been buzzing and the next round of classes will start on Monday next week.

Registered nutritionist Tatjana Smolic, who will be running the classes in Rotorua, said people's bodies changed as we got older and so did our need for nutrition.


"The programme is interactive and provides a great opportunity for socialisation as well as refreshing their cooking skills and improving their nutritional knowledge.

"The recipes we teach are flexible and we teach about cooking economically for one to two people, planning tips for a week of meals and shopping tips, like how to read food labels."

She said a lot of food products had changed over the years and it was difficult at a glance to know which ones were healthy.

She will break down the different elements in food and each meal would contain a balance of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates.

Recipes include pasta dishes, sides that can be paired with meat and quick and easy options.

The classes are aimed at people who have lost confidence in the kitchen or people who had lost their partner and are now cooking alone.

"We've had a lot of success with men in particular, whose partners have passed away and they're now having to cook for the first time in their lives.

"Rotorua will be the first city to get this programme outside of Auckland thanks to the funding we've received."

The classes will be three hours each held over four consecutive weeks, starting at 10am at the Linton Park Community Centre.

The first round of classes have started and there is still opportunity to take part in the second which will start on October 8.

Age Concern Rotorua manager Rory O'Rourke said the classes were a great opportunity for people who wanted to learn more or wanted to get out and socialise.

"We have been recommending it to our members, it's a really good opportunity."