Teaching Teenagers to Cook
Cooking is a skill that every single person needs to know and teenagers are no different. Helping teenagers learn their way around the kitchen and practice their skills with food, whether they want to bake humble cookies or prepare gourmet cuisine, can be equally satisfying for parents and teens. If you want to help teach your teenager to cook, don’t forget to discuss kitchen safety, food preparation and storage as well as your family’s secret recipes.
Teenagers and Kitchen SafetyTeenagers understand that knives can cut them and fire can burn them, but in the middle of trying to make a meal basic kitchen safety may be pushed to the back of their minds. For everyone’s safety, remind teens of proper kitchen safety while you oversee a few of their first cooking experiments. Remind teens that pots should never have their handles sticking out into the kitchen, that tea towels should never be left near the stove, that scissors and knives should only be passed handles-first and that taking things out of the oven requires a pair of gloves to avoid burns. Also remind teens that hot containers need to be placed on trivets, that cleaning as you go helps keep the kitchen tidy and sanitary, that boiling water should be handled with care and that steam can burn just as badly as other forms of heat. Other safety tips will be applicable to different recipes, so don’t assume your parenting job is done after just one meal.
Teenagers and Food PreparationOnce teens are comfortable in the kitchen begin to offer them some advice on general food preparation. Remind teens that they need to wash their hands before cooking and immediately after touching meat, chicken or fish. Allow frozen items to thaw in the refrigerator and cook thawed items immediately. Show teens how to wash fruits and vegetables before use and the best ways to use sharp objects for peeling and slicing as well as the cutting boards you prefer for these tasks. Help teens clean up properly following all cooking tasks and remind them to use a commercial cleaner on all surfaces that have been touched by raw food.
Teenagers and Food StorageThere’s no doubt that teens love food, but if they are new to cooking then they are likely new to proper food storage as well. Show them how to store cooked foods in single serving containers with labels advising everyone what is inside and how to reheat it. Help teens write a “use by” date on packages that are going to be frozen so that others will know when it is no longer safe to thaw and eat these items. For food that can be stored at room temperature, help teens pack items away properly and write out any instructions for later use (for example, if salt and pepper are needed as seasoning, if the item is best eaten with something else, etc.). Help teens avoid wasting food by storing it properly for later use.
Teaching teenagers to cook is an important part of getting them ready to live independently. However, teaching teens to cook is not over in just one lesson but is an on-going process that can be enjoyable for both parents and teenagers.