Teen Series: (Part 1 of 15) Basic Cooking Skills

As teenagers transition into adulthood, it’s crucial to equip them with essential life skills, and cooking is undoubtedly one of them.

They’ve gotta eat right?

From whipping up simple meals to exploring culinary creativity, developing basic cooking skills will empower them to nourish themselves and thrive independently. Emphasis on independently. In this blog post, we’ll explore a range of fundamental cooking skills that every teenager should learn before leaving the nest. There’s only so much pizza and ramen your body can handle!

So start early and foster as you go. These are great skills for all to have! Here we go:


Knife Skills: Slice, Dice, and Master the Blade

Knife skills are the foundation of any cook’s repertoire. Teach your teen the proper techniques for holding and handling a knife, including the pinch grip and the claw hand position. Show them how to chop, dice, slice, and julienne vegetables and fruits with precision. Emphasize safety rules such as keeping fingers away from the blade and using a cutting board. Mastering knife skills not only makes cooking efficient but also enhances the presentation and texture of their dishes.

They might take some time to master this skill comfortably, so I recommend starting them super young to get comfortable in the kitchen. I have purchased kitchen knives specifically for training toddlers to grow comfortable with using a knife, and it’s been a great investment – the knives and the time. My teen and 10 year old are very comfortable helping with dinner and handling a knife, and it started just because they.. started. (You’re welcome, future daughters-in-laws. :))

A quick Google or search on Amazon for “knives for kids” will get you what you need. If your teen is starting a little later, your regular knives will do just fine as their hands and dexterity are more fine tuned in their later years. The sharper, the better. A dull knife is more likely to cause slip-ups.


Cooking Techniques: From Sauteing to Baking

Introduce your teen to a variety of cooking techniques that will expand their culinary prowess. Teach them how to sauté vegetables to perfection, pan-fry chicken, grill burgers, boil pasta, and steam vegetables. Explore the art of making sauces, stir-fries, and soups. Guide them through the basics of baking, including measuring ingredients, following recipes, and understanding oven temperatures. By familiarizing them with these techniques, they’ll have a solid foundation to experiment and create delicious meals.

My teen loves following TikTok cooking videos. He just has always enjoyed cooking and baking and that’s been a blessing. Even if that’s not your kid though, encourage and walk alongside them, showing them the ropes of basic cooking. Scrambling eggs, a grilled cheese, pancakes – start simple and watch their confidence grow.


Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Help your teenager develop the vital skills of meal planning and grocery shopping. Teach them how to create a balanced menu, considering nutritional needs and personal preferences. Show them how to make a shopping list, navigate the grocery store aisles, compare prices, and select fresh ingredients. Encourage them to experiment with meal prepping and organizing their pantry and refrigerator. These skills will not only save them time and money but also ensure they have nutritious meals readily available.

This doesn’t even come easily to adults nowadays, so I’ve made an awesome Meal Planning Bundle that’s currently free – check it out if that’s something you think your teen could benefit from. Teach them how to create a grocery budget and stick to it. They’ll quickly see the cost of things and learn to plan accordingly. If you start early enough, this is the quickest way to train our child not to beg for things while you’re strolling down the cereal aisle and you already have Pop-Tarts on the list, and cereal is out of the budget. It’s one or the other, buddy. ;P

It’s also just a great adulty thing to learn as you get older. Have a budget, be responsible with your finances, and eat well.


Recipe Reading and Adaptation

Introduce your teen to the art of recipe reading and adaptation. Teach them to decipher recipe instructions, measurements, and cooking times. Encourage them to explore different recipes, experiment with flavors, and adapt recipes to suit their taste preferences or dietary needs. Show them the importance of understanding ingredient substitutions and the power of creativity in the kitchen. By honing this skill, they’ll gain confidence to explore their culinary talents beyond the confines of a recipe.

Cooking’s a big thing in our family and as soon as they start reading, they can read a recipe and all the abbreviations. My Meal Planning Bundle has a great conversion chart, and for our pseudo-large family, we use it often for scaling recipes up. Also teach your kiddos how to substitute certain things when something isn’t readily available. Cooking is a lot more fun when you know how to adapt AND your food turns out awesome after all that hard work.


Kitchen Safety and Cleanliness

Alongside cooking skills, emphasize the importance of kitchen safety and cleanliness. It’s one thing to be a great cook, but it’s another to be a great cook that doesn’t leave behind a huge mess for someone else to clean – or a huge mess that you don’t feel like cleaning up after cooking for an hour!

Teach your teen basic kitchen hygiene practices, such as washing hands, handling raw meat properly, and keeping countertops clean. Show them how to operate kitchen appliances safely, including the stove, oven, and blender. Instill the habit of cleaning as they go, washing dishes promptly, and maintaining a tidy workspace. These practices will create a safe and organized kitchen environment.

By equipping your teenager with essential cooking skills, you’re preparing them to embark on their own culinary adventures with confidence. From knife skills and cooking techniques to meal planning and recipe adaptation, these skills will empower them to feed themselves well and embrace their creativity in the kitchen. Remember, cooking is a lifelong journey, and the more they practice and explore, the more they will discover the joy and satisfaction of creating delicious meals. 

So, put on your aprons, gather your teen, and let the culinary adventures begin! It will pay off! Bon appétit!

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