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Mar 9, 2007 04:01 PM

ideas for teaching teens to cook

My 12 and 15 year olds don't like making much by themselves other than quesadillas, boxed mac 'n cheese and Tollhouse cookies. I've decided they no longer have a choice in the matter and will learn to cook no matter what. To complicate things, they're not very adventurous eaters (although my son once enjoyed making California rolls from scratch).
So far I've had them try roast chicken with rice and carrots and spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and broccoli. I'm thinking of steak and mashed potatoes for this weekend since the older one is a big carnivore. Any other ideas for very simple menus that your kids might have liked cooking?

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  1. If you've got a grill, teenage boys love fire. Teach them some marinades and show them how to tell when the meat is done. Show them how good veggies taste when grilled with just olive oil, salt and pepper.

    1. Enchiladas are a good choice. Lasagna using a bottled sauce is another. Those are more about construction than cooking but the results are usually good for beginners. Meatloaf, too. If they're squeamish about moshing up all the ingredients, invest in a pack of disposable latex gloves.

      1. Actually, one of my small victories so far was hearing my son tell my daughter that it was fun to mix up the meatball mix with your bare hands!
        thanks, keep 'em coming!

        1. My suggestion would be to find a cookbook that has fairly healthy recipes (I'm just guessing that in teaching them to cook you also want to be nutrionally conscious) and then let them choose. If something sounds intriguing to them I'd think they'll be far more likely to really go after it and more interested in what worked and what didn't. When I started learning to cook on my own, I just started reading through my mom's cookbooks and making things that sounded good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ccbweb

            That's a good idea. The Barefoot Contessa's books offer very accessible recipes for great-tasting food. It might be somewhere to start.

          2. Couple of thoughts. I found that teens seem to like baking more than cooking, so let them make a cake as a reward at some point. Cakes are pretty easy to make and have a big payoff. Fruit cobblers too--easy and good.

            Second, if they make something they like or get to pick that might work out better. Basic skills are great but sometimes it's just more fun to make something interesting for 'fancy'. Challenge them to come up with something.

            I do have a favorite dish that kids love. It is a sticky glazed chicken over Chinese noodles. I always serve it over the fresh Chinese noodles you can get in the produce section or near the tofu at some markets but you can use dreid noodles or thin spaghetti. Or rice, but I love it with noodles. The garlic will turn sweet and mellow and this takes only 1/2 hour to make. Good with sauteed pea pods or snap peas in sesame oil

            I'd try a couple one dish type meals: arroz con pollo, a pasta with something other than red sauce.