If you didn’t start teaching your teen to cook when they were younger, take heart. It’s not too late. The easiest way of teaching your teenager how to cook is by having them help you prepare meals. Let them watch some, then get them started cutting, peeling, slicing, and stirring. Before too long, they’ll be fixing dinner and you can relax.
Be sure to stress the importance of cleanliness and safety in the kitchen. Teach them to wash their hands any time they plan to handle food, even if it’s to pick up a piece of fruit to enjoy. Definitely they should wash with soap and water after handling raw meat. By getting them in the habit of washing their hands now, they’ll be less likely to spread germs around the kitchen when they begin cooking.
They also need to know that they can be burned if they pick something up that’s hot and that good knives are sharp. Teach them the proper way to hold a knife when cutting, chopping, and slicing, especially to keep their fingers tucked under to avoid injury. Handles for pots and pans need to be pushed to the side to avoid possibly knocking them off the stove. Teens also need to be aware of where they put items that are flammable.
Stress to them that if they clean as they go, it will make their job of cleaning up when they’re done so much easier. It will also be important to teach them how to properly thaw frozen foods, how to store leftovers, and how to reheat them. Teach them to write “use by” dates on everything they put in the freezer or refrigerator.
Grab a cookbook and find a simple recipe that uses several cooking preparation methods. Show your teen how to read and understand the recipe before beginning. Gather the ingredients and tools for the dish. Start with the basics and build upon those slowly until they are more comfortable cooking.
While you’re teaching them, you may want to stress the importance of a balanced meal. Teach them how to combine dishes to create a meal. You may also want to stress eating a variety of foods, both raw and cooked, to be sure they’re getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need.
An added benefit of teaching your teenager how to cook is that you’ll be able to spend quality time in a relaxed atmosphere. You may find that your teen is pretty interesting and that you’ve done a better job of parenting them that you thought.
Cooking is an important skill to learn before leaving home. By teaching your teenager how to cook before they leave home you can be confident that they will be able feed themselves once they are no longer in your care.