Where should one start in learning how to cook? Julia Child might ask, “Does she know how to make an omelet?” True, omelets can be a versatile meal, eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but let’s add more than eggs to our teens’ cooking repertoire.
As shared in my post on 10 Must Have Books for Teen Girls, a good cookbook is essential for independent living. We want our teens to not rely on eating convenience foods that are bad for both the body and the pocketbook. Teens need to learn that they too can make a fantastic meal. Even better than that is building up enough confidence in their cooking skills to give a dinner party and invite friends and family to enjoy their culinary masterpieces.
1. Teach teens to cook healthy, budget-friendly meals.
As a mom of four, I live by a routine of Spaghetti Monday, Taco Tuesday, and a variety of seasoned chicken on Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday. Dad takes over on Saturday and left-overs are for Sunday (weekends are my days off!). This keeps the budget low and stress-level for cooking low for me. All my ingredients are on-hand, and I know the recipes by heart. Inform your teen that cooking can get pricey depending on the ingredients. Give her a turn in cooking dinner once a week until she learns them all.
2. Let her bake.
The kitchen is my domain. I don’t want flour all over the counters, on the flour, or in the cracks beside the oven. By the grace of God, I’ve had to learn to deal with this. When I’ve let go of my desire to dominate the kitchen and have given free rein to my teen, she has flourished in baking biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and muffins. She’s even made cream puffs! And, because my idea of dessert is in the freezer, I never would have been able to enjoy these scrumptious delights had I barred her from baking because, truthfully, it can get messy. I’ll share tips on teaching teens to clean in a later post!
3. Start building up her own kitchen supplies.
One day, our teen is going to grow up and move out (that’s the plan anyway!) and she will need some kitchen items to take with her. My teen has asked for baking pans and a mixer for Christmas. With her knack for baking, I was happy to oblige. I’ve since acquired a new set of pots and pans, but I kept the old ones to give to her when she leaves the nest. I remember my mom giving me a great deal of her old dishes and silverware when I went off to college. I hope to do the same for my daughter.
4. Take her grocery shopping.
In our family, Dad is the grocery shopper. Before we had children, we would shop together. With each pregnancy, my husband starting shopping on his own. Now, he does it full-time, and I am more than thrilled with that. He’s known as “Super Dad” at out local supermarket with all the kids with him, holding onto the shopping cart. My stepdad used to do the same thing. He made a grocery list, took his calculator, and me with him. It was my job to add up all his purchases and make sure he stayed within the budget. Whether mom or dad is in charge of the shopping, try taking your teens with you and let them keep track of money spent. It’s eye-opening how easy it is to spend over two hundred dollars a week for a family of six. Maybe we should do once-a-month freezer meals, couponing, or base meal planning on BOGO’s? Encourage our teens to brainstorm ideas on how to save money.
5. Teach about expiration dates and food rotation.
I’ve learned the hard way that you should always check the expiration date on milk before pouring it into your cereal. My husband, (our designated family food shopper) is really good about rotating the food in our refrigerator and pantry to make sure the newer food is placed behind the food that would spoil first. Teens need to learn this when they help put groceries away. Also, they need to learn not to open up another bag of chips or carton of milk before the old one is used up.
With a little extra time and patience, we can teach our teens to take full rein of the kitchen so that one day, they too can make more than an omelet.