I have had minutes this summer with a clean kitchen.
My two teen girls (who are 15 and 14) are ‘into’ food and cooking.
So I’ve handed over the kitchen.
Lemon Raspberry Muffins, Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Pasta, Cake Pops, sliced chicken sandwiches with the works, and the list goes on.
While there have been recipes from the internet and out of cookbooks, there has also been free-range creativity—putting together what sounds good and seeing if it works.
So if you have a teen, with time on his or her hands, keep the option of a messy kitchen open! I have to admit, there haven’t been many failures.
How to create a successful cooking experience for teens:
Take advantage of interest.
Forcing, pushing or heavy encouragement to cook almost never yields the results you’re looking for. When the interest is there—grab it and go for it.
My teens started out with, “Can I make chocolate chip cookies?” In fact, I’ve heard a lot of requests to make cookies! An interest in baking is a common first sign that a teen is ready to start cooking.
Provide support, but don’t stifle.
Teens need permission to make mistakes, to start over, and learn along the way. If you’re hovering or overly worried about a misstep, remind yourself that cooking is a learning process, much like learning to drive a car. Provide upfront guidance, like answering questions about a recipe, demonstrating a cooking technique, or purchasing the necessary ingredients, but don’t take over.
Insert your advice when asked.
Lighten up on the rules.
Cooking is an art, and rules aren’t crucial for the learning cook. For example, when G makes chocolate chip cookies, she doesn’t follow the early instructions. She does her own thing with the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg—and the cookies turn out great every time!
Mesh with teen development.
It is a natural part of teen development to experiment and express oneself. Cooking, baking and creating in the kitchen dovetails nicely with this process. And what happens in the kitchen can carry over into the future, culminating in a confident and creative cook!
For more insight and ideas in the kitchen, check out The Dinner Bar ideas and other simple recipes on this blog.
What has your teen made in the kitchen (besides a mess!) this summer?
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: July 24, 2012
Updated on: July 1, 2016