Benefits of Cooking with Your Teenager

Kitty and Oz baking a Norman Castle cake for Ozzy’s history homework.
By Kylee

Only about one-third of families in the USA eat together at least once a day according to research conducted at North Dakota State University. While there are many ways to spend quality time with your family (and your teenage children in particular), cooking with them can boast additional benefits that often extend beyond the kitchen. From instilling healthy eating habits in your teens and spending quality time with them to equipping them with invaluable life skills, here are just a few reasons why cooking with your teenagers is a good idea.

It Instills Healthy Eating Habits

Many parents will attest that it is not an easy feat to convince your teens that eating fast food every day is not a good idea. The simplest way to instill healthy eating habits in a teen (and even younger children) is by showing them how to make healthier choices. Take your teenagers with you when you do grocery shopping and encourage them to help you prepare healthy meals with you. While you are slicing and dicing away, speak about the nutrients contained in the ingredients that you are using. You can also point out how some ingredients are not healthy when consumed in large quantities. It is, however, important to not portray any food group in such a bad light that your teen finds themselves avoiding it completely as it can lead to them having a very unhealthy relationship with food as adults.

You Get to Spend Time Together

As our children grow older and their social circles expand it is natural that they will spend less time at home, socializing with their parents. Cooking with your teens is a great way to spend quality time together as a family. While preparing a meal you can talk about your own day and encourage your children to do the same. There is no need to restrict the cooking and bonding to the kitchen either. If your family likes to BBQ, why not take the cooking outside? Here, you and your teens can bond while grilling a steak or some succulent ribs. You can even put a smoky spin on some popular fast foods by firing up your smoker and making a scrumptious pizza that the whole family is bound to enjoy.

It Teaches Valuable Life Skills

Despite how much we want to keep our children close to us, there will be a time when they have to fly the nest and fend for themselves. When this does happen, being able to cook a variety of meals will be a saving grace. Cooking for themselves while at college or after landing their first job will not only be the cheaper option but the healthier one as well. In addition to teaching your teens to cook, also show them how to create a menu and then draw up a shopping list from it. Other cooking-related skills that are worth teaching include basic budgeting and bargain-hunting/stockpiling.

Give Your Teen Credit

Homeschool parents can turn cooking into an elective course by granting a half credit for a semester of food-based activities. (This equates to roughly 75 hours in the kitchen or three hours per week for 25 weeks.) The learning opportunities are virtually unlimited since each week you can focus on a different theme such as Chinese food, Mexican food, Indian food, Italian food, pizza making, salads, desserts, bread baking, cake decorating, etc. For their capstone project have them plan, prepare, and serve a meal for the family!

Cooking with your teenagers can provide them with valuable life skills. It can also become a wonderful bonding opportunity for the entire family. Your teen can even earn credit for it on their homeschool transcript!

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