Sure Fire way To Teach Kids to Cook

Teach your kids to cook so you don’t have to!Here’s my philosophy in a nutshell: Each year after age 10, they learn to make one meal per year.

So at 11 they can make 1.
At 12 they can make 2.
At 13 they can make 3.

And so on, and so on, and so on. That way, when they move out at 18, the goal is that they can make seven different meals well, and one fancier meal for company.

This applies to both girls and boys. Do not raise your sons differently from your daughters in this regard. First of all, the average boy doesn’t marry until 27, so that’s 9 years away from home first, unless you want him living in your basement and eating your food the whole time. Even when he does marry, do you really want your daughter-in-law to have to do all the cooking? Train him for independence! You’re doing everyone a favor!

Getting started

So how do you figure out the meals to make? Think about your family’s favorite meals and start with the easiest one.  This is what has worked for me:

Year 11: Spaghetti. It’s easy, and most kids like it, and it’s mostly just stirring. You can start by just teaching them to make the pasta and heat up a can of sauce with some meat. Then teach them how to add some chopped veggies, like garlic or carrots or peppers. Then add some homemade garlic bread. (Just chop fresh garlic up, add it to butter with some parsley, and spread it on bread. Broil it, and you’re done! Just check the timer. I’m forever burning mine).

Year 12: Chicken pie/chicken rice casserole. This is one of my children’s favorite meals, so we taught it young. It’s not that difficult:

Start with leftover chicken and add
1 can cream-of-something soup (use whatever is in your cupboard)
1 cup gravy (leftover, or the instant kind, or a can)
a lot of frozen veggies, or chopped fresh carrots, etc.

Heat it all up, and then either put it in some pie shells and bake it, or add rice and a bit of sour cream to it, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs, and cook as a rice casserole. It’s great either way!

Year 13: Chicken and potatoes (This is a great meal that makes leftovers so they have the leftover chicken to make chicken pie. But most kids feel very threatened by making a whole chicken, plus they think the meat is gross, so it’s best to leave this until a little bit later).

The biggest benefit of learning how to roast a chicken is that your realize how easy it is! If you teach your kids how to make different side dishes, from baked potatoes to mashed potatoes or rice, then they’re all set. Now no matter which meat they roast they can make a meal! Gravy is a little trickier, but my daughter Rebecca’s getting pretty good at it right now.

Year 14: Grilled ham. We make ours dipped in maple syrup and then grilled in a frying pan or on the barbecue, depending on the time of year. The kids love it! We usually splurge on Lipton’s sidekicks for this meal.

Year 15: Shepherd’s Pie. Again, it’s easy. But I leave it until later because I always find this meal takes a bit of time because of all the peeling of potatoes and chopping and mashing, and the kids don’t like doing that work as much. Here’s our recipe:

Brown 1 1/2 pounds ground beef.
Add 1 can of tomato soup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
a bunch of garlic powder and salt and paprika

Layer this in a pan. Cover with frozen veggies. Add mashed potatoes on top of that. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400 for half and hour. If it’s not brown on top, broil for a minute or two. We’ve started tripling this recipe and making three pans, because the kids love it and we leave it for leftovers.

So there you have five days of meals for your teens and preteens to start learning to make!That’s also our recipe plan for this week. None of these recipes cost very much. They’re all very affordable, and the kids like them. And one day, when they’re on their own, they’ll feel competent! What recipes do you use to teach children how to cook? And how are they doing at it?

Written by Sheila Wray Gregoire

This blog was originally posted on . Used with permission.


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