Cooking with Teens: 10 Tips and Ways to Get Them in the Kitchen

Cooking with Teens: Tips and Ways to Get Them in the Kitchen
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Cooking with Teens: Tips and Ways to Get Them in the Kitchen

Isn’t it wild how your teen is quickly growing up and taking on more responsibilities? While most of our teens are dealing with a heavy course load at school and impending thoughts about college, there are also a barrage of life changes happening.

From jobs to navigating relationships to learning how to drive, your teen is constantly taking in and learning a lot. One important skill they will need throughout their life is cooking.

Since college is coming up before we all know it, it’s important to better equip our teens to understand and master cooking before they leave the house – after all life isn’t just takeout and Uber Eats!

Below, we’re sharing some simple ways to get your teen involved in the kitchen where to help them confidently whip up a delicious meal, or simply know how to prepare one in no time. 

Psst… Cross items off your Spring NYC Bucket List with your family!

Meal Plan Together

Cooking for a family generally starts by creating a meal plan. Work with your teen to outline some meal ideas for the week, focusing on your family favorites.

Be sure to get their input where they can potentially come up with twists on classic dishes, as well as create a plan with some new recipe ideas. After you have your meal plan, create a grocery list together. 

Go Grocery Shopping Together

After you create your meal plan, have your teen go with you on your next grocery run or work with you on your online grocery shopping. As you shop, talk about the brands you like and why, giving them an understanding of what products go into what dishes.

Here, you can also discuss your food budget and how much you can spend – looking out for sales and/or cost-effective alternatives.

Additionally, you can have them participate in the experience by splitting up your list where they go throughout the store and shop. This can be a fun way for them to help out as well as have an understanding where items are located. 

This could also be a fun experience at your local farmers’ market where you and your teen support and engage with local farms and makers as well as discuss the difference in the quality vs what is found at a supermarket.

Learn Basic Kitchen Skills

Before your teen starts cooking, it’s important that they understand basic cooking skills. This can include peeling basics, how to use the oven, cooking everyday items such as pasta, rice, or eggs, time management with recipes, using kitchen appliances, and/or how to reheat, to name a few basics.

If your teen is more advanced in the kitchen, focus on having them master knife skills. YouTube is a great visual resource that you and your teen can watch together as you pause and you test out what you’re learning.

Some favorites for tweens and teens include Lorin Michel, Katie Kimball and Tasty. 

Watch Cooking Shows and/or YouTube Together

We are always inspired after watching cooking shows. Not only are the contestants showcasing some incredible cooking and baking skills, we love seeing the heart and the story behind the dishes they’re making. Some favorites include Chopped, Chef’s Table, Hell’s Kitchen, and Master Chef.

Take a Class Together

A fun bonding experience for you and your teen is to take a class together at a local cooking school. Try an online course from the comfort of your home such as from Sur La Table, Home Cooking New York and Junior Chefs of America.

These classes allow you and your teen to master specific skills and/or recipes over the course of a few days and/or weeks.

Try Cooking Books

You can also get some books from your local library or bookstore that are specific to teens and cooking. Check out The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs, which includes kitchen fundamentals and a collection of teen-approved recipes and the How-To Cookbook for Teens

Have them make a new recipe every week as a way to showcase their newly acquired skills. 

Experiment with Flavors

Cooking is all about using a range of different flavors. Work with your teen to help them understand basic ingredients, as well as how to incorporate global flavors.

For example, if your family normally eats roasted chicken with onions and rosemary, work with your teen to experiment using new flavors, such as paprika, rosemary, ginger, various veggies, and more.

After they have a proficient understanding of the recipe, encourage them to try new things and show them that they can trust themselves by experimenting.

Have them Make Something they Like

Teens can also start cooking by making something they love. This might be something simple like pasta, pizza, chicken fingers, and/or burgers, or an intricate meal, depending on your teens’ preferences.

Have them plan and conceptualize the entire dinner, including meal planning, shopping, cooking, and, of course, cleaning. 

Have them Make Dinner Once a Week

As they master cooking, have your teen make dinner once a week based on what they learned as well as new recipe ideas. Cooking takes time and trial and error. Letting your teens freely experiment and try will help them to get better and make dishes that are masterful, skilled, and delicious!

Failure Might Happen

Cooking and baking is challenging, especially if your teen isn’t used to it. If their recipe didn’t come out quite as they planned, use this as a learning experience to research and think about the steps and what might have gone wrong.

The best way to master any recipe is to try and try again. In due time, your teen will be a master of the kitchen – and might even prefer their own cooking to takeout.