Everyone needs to eat, especially teens who seem to be bottomless pits. Build on this need to eat and allow your teen to take over in the kitchen a few times a week, teaching them valuable life skills. Our teen has always been interested in helping in the kitchen but we took it to a new level and are now reaping some delicious benefits.
We bought our teenager two of his very own cookbooks. His interest in baking led me to find a good solid beginner’s baking cookbook (Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking-look for it used). I also wanted him to learn to handle basic dinner recipes for the family which led to a classic cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook). Each week he chooses one recipe to try and share with the family.
Nothing is more frustrating than missing ingredients so planning is essential. My son chooses the recipe, gives me a list of ingredients and kitchen tools he needs, and I add them to my shopping list. At first, I would work alongside him teaching him how to read a recipe, how to look up cooking terms, and give moral support as he worked through each dish. As he has gained confidence, I am not needed as much but find he still likes me to be near-by for advice or just to give him a few pointers.
Since I am not a very adventuresome cook, it was fun to watch him take on recipes I would never try and be successful. He is now a master pizza dough maker, an excellent pie baker (apple is his specialty), and he has a couple of soup recipes that are now on our regular meal rotation. As evidence of his love for cooking, his cookbooks are now a little sticky, marked with stray bits of cake batter, and fingerprints.
Good food and great family times are always a welcome combination. Your teen will gain new confidence in the kitchen just like mine has and they will be eager to share delicious food with your family and their friends.
Some Tips From Our Experience
- Pick a cookbook that has clear instructions and basic recipes. We chose a children’s baking book for its big photos of ingredients, steps to take, and instructions on how to use equipment. Don’t be put off by the word “Kid’s” in the title, check out the inside!
- Find a cookbook that has recipes your family will like and use on a regular basis.
- After purchasing a cookbook, make sure to page through it to see what it has to offer. Our cookbook had excellent tips for choosing ingredients and a section on “cooking basics” that we used to learn more about things we could try together. New pans and dishes, knives, new vocabulary, and so much more were explained in simple terms.
Now we look forward to spending time in the kitchen together each week and I encourage you to plan on joining your teen in the kitchen, building your own cooking memories. This is just one way we grow a good habit into a life skill.
Do you have a cookbook you could work through with your teen?