5 Recipes Every Teenager Should Master Before Leaving Home | Lifestyles

Many young adults leave the chicken coop without the slightest idea of ​​how to prepare a simple meal, condemning them to a monotonous routine of instant noodles and cold pizza, punctuated by the beeping of the microwave.

If you have kids rushing toward independence, do them a favor and teach them how to cook five easy yet versatile dishes that will not only feed them, but make them a popular roommate and perpetually welcome guest.

“In my practice, I’ve seen first-hand how teaching teens to cook is a game-changer for their independence,” says Lindsey Tong, clinical director of Profound Treatment in Los Angeles, California. “Cooking shows them that they have what it takes to take care of themselves, and how to be resourceful and bounce back from setbacks.” These kitchen victories help them feel ready to take on the world.

If your teen can learn how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, succulent rotisserie chicken, hearty chili, a salad with homemade dressing, and a pan of decadent brownies, they’ll have a solid foundation for life outside the nest .

Macaroni and cheese from scratch

With chewy noodles bathed in a cheesy sauce, a good mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Delicious, hearty and easy to make, it is also infinitely customizable.

Start by boiling the noodles. Make the rich sauce by heating the milk and flour together, then stir in the grated cheese. Finally, mix the sauce and noodles. To level it, transfer the mixture to a baking dish, cover with breadcrumbs and bake or grill until the top is golden and crisp.

Make mac and cheese more nutritious by adding peas, broccoli, or other frozen vegetables. For more protein, add sausage, bacon or diced ham. Make it with a basic cheddar, or top it with gruyere or asiago. Add a touch of spice with cayenne pepper or ground chipotle.

Roast chicken

Impressive, flavorful and versatile, roast chicken is the perfect dish for teens who have mastered basic cooking skills and are looking for a challenge. Roasted chicken makes a satisfying centerpiece to a meal, and they can reuse leftovers for future meals like chicken enchiladas or tacos.

Rub the chicken all over with a spice blend mixed with oil or butter and place it in a roasting pan, breast side up. For added flavor, stuff the chicken cavity with herbs and lemon slices. Roast over high heat until the chicken is cooked through – use a digital thermometer to make sure it is safe. The USDA recommends a minimum temperature of 165 F/74 C.

For an easy one-skillet meal, toss chopped potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms in oil, then scatter around the chicken before roasting. They will make the perfect side.

Salad with homemade vinaigrette

For a true cooking beginner, salad is a great place to start. Your teen will learn how to use the knife and become familiar with preparing a variety of vegetables.

A good salad balances colors, textures and flavors. Use a combination of crunchy raw vegetables like lettuce, sliced ​​cucumber and radish with creamy avocado and crunchy nuts, fried onions, croutons or bacon.

Looking for a meal-worthy salad? Add proteins like grilled chicken or shrimp, eggs, nuts or beans to create a salad that will keep you going. Add fruit and cheese for contrasts in flavors and textures.

Dressing can make or break a salad, so don’t settle for store-bought. The best salad dressings combine acid, fat and seasonings. These ingredients work together to create a flavorful, balanced dressing that makes your vegetables shine.

These ingredients can be mixed and matched: use olive oil, mayonnaise, buttermilk, or sour cream for the fat – the latter two also count as your acid. For the acidic element, use any type of citrus juice or vinegar. Fresh herbs, dried spices, mustard, nut butter, and aromatics like garlic and ginger can completely change the flavor profile.


Chili is a foolproof dish, perfect for feeding a crowd. Making chili is a great way to learn about seasonings and work with different spices and aromatics.

To make it, fry the onions and garlic in oil in your largest saucepan until fragrant, then add the minced meat, if using. Once the meat is browned, add spices like hot or mild chili powder, cumin, oregano, and even cinnamon. Add a little broth and let simmer. You can bulk up your chili by adding beans, hominy, tomatoes and other ingredients.

Chili is endlessly customizable, so your teen can experiment with different texture and flavor combinations. Swap ground chicken or turkey for beef, or swap meat for beans or soy-based chorizo. They can make it more or less spicy, add corn or other vegetables, or make any adjustments they like. Chili is forgiving enough that even the most creative interpretations will be delicious.


Who can say no to brownies? Compared to fussy cakes or finicky pastries, brownies are an easy treat that will reward even the most nervous beginner baker. and there are plenty of ways to put your own stamp on each batch. They can add chocolate – or toffee – chips, nuts or unexpected flavorings like instant coffee or orange zest and juice. You can even make a small batch of brownies for two.

Preheat your oven, then prepare a baking dish by spraying it with baking spray. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla extract, salt and baking powder until well combined. Stir in all the add-ins, then transfer to a brownie pan and bake. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Today the kitchen, tomorrow the world

With the prevalence of YouTube cooking tutorials and TikTok hacks, it’s tempting to assume that kids will just figure it out on their own. But cooking with your teen is a great way to bond while helping them learn the basic skills every adult needs. By teaching your teen basic cooking skills, you’ll give them a taste of independence – and that’s more important than any recipe.

Robin Donovan is the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including the bestselling Campfire Cuisine, Ramen Obsession, and Ramen for Beginners.

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