Adulting starts with learning some of the basic life skills like cooking.
But if you’re anything like me, you always thought to yourself “why bother? Mum’s such a great cook”.
As a teenager you’ll soon be off to your college, which is when cooking becomes such an essential skill.
Moreover, most teenagers enjoy the process of cooking and baking. It’s easy, fun and sometimes even therapeutic.
If you are just starting off, do not worry about the more complex dishes your mother makes. Let’s start with the simple stuff.
20 Recipes to Begin your Culinary Journey
Ready? If you’re in the kitchen and wondering what to start with, I’ve got you covered. Here are 20 easy recipes you can start whipping up.
- Breakfast Wraps
Let’s start off with the first meal of the day. Wraps are one of the most easiest dishes to make. They can be filling and tasty too.
Place your favorite fillings, veggies and condiments in each quarter and fold each quarter over. Once you’re done you should have a triangular pocket of deliciousness!
- Creamy Mac and Cheese
Who doesn’t like a creamy mac and cheese dish? And the best part is, it’s one of the easiest things to make.
- Grilled Cheese
While we are on the topic of cheese, let’s discuss another super easy dish made with cheese. I’m talking about the classic grilled cheese.
All it takes for a good grilled cheese are fresh loaves of bread, some butter, and a good amount of cheese sandwiched in between. Grill it over a pan and there you go.
In fact, this is one dish you don’t even need conventional grills for. Wrap the sandwich in tin-foil and place a hot iron over it or grill it with a hair straightener.
- Creamy Chicken Pasta
Winner winner chicken dinner? Chicken for dinner isn’t really a bad idea. One of the best ways to prepare chicken for dinner is to add chunks of it into some creamy pasta.
Cook some flour in butter, add milk and cheese to prepare a creamy sauce. Add the boiled pasta and chicken chunks. Season it and enjoy!
- PB&J Sandwiches
This is literally the one dish every toddler knows how to make.
I shouldn’t even be considering this age-approriate for a teenager. But it’s just so tasty, we all crave a good PB&J sandwich from time to time.
- Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes
Just the name – fudgy chocolate mug cakes can make any dessert lover start drooling. Most of us have a conception that baking is difficult.
But relax! This is just a rustic mug cake. Combine the goodness of butter, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and some rich melted chocolate.
Pour it into a mug and microwave until it looks cooked yet gooey on the inside.
- Green Bean Fries
I could hear your eyes roll when you read the name of this dish. But wait! Everything green doesn’t have to taste bad.
Green bean fries are a fun way to have your greens. All you need are some green beans, some parmesan, spices and olive oil.
Stir fry them together or bake them at 200 degrees until they start to get some colour and become crunchy.
- Butter Garlic Shrimp
Ah! My personal favorite and one that’s packed with protein and deliciousness. It take about 15-20 minutes to prepare this dish.
Grab some shrimps. De-shell and de-vein them. Add butter and chopped garlic to a pan and toss the shrimps around in it until cooked.
Don’t forget to season it. Add some honey if you feel like it.
In a hurry? Don’t know what to do with the over-ripe banana? Or are you just looking for a quick but healthy meal option?
Just grab your favourite berries, a banana or even a mango. Put them in a blender with some milk, roasted oats, protein powder, nuts, honey and anything else you want to add.
Some people even add stuff like spinach and kale!
- Garlic Bread
Most supermarkets have fancy herb butter on display. You know you could make those at home.
Like how you can make garlic butter at home for this recipe. Chop some garlic really finely and mix it up with some room temperature butter.
Spread it on a loaf and bake it until toasty and golden.
- Ham/Turkey Sandwiches
We all love cold cuts right? And these are a gift when you’re trying to whip up a sandwich without much of an effort.
Most of us have cold cuts in our fridge. Fold them in between two slices of bread with some lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
Add some mustard or mayo and your sandwich is ready.
- Sausage and Veggie Stir Fry
Just like any other stir fry, a sausage and veggie stir fry is a simple affair. Choose vegetables of your choice.
I usually go with onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, babycorn, baby carrots with some garlic. Chop them up into small cubes and saute them with some olive oil or butter.
Add salt and pepper. Add sausage bits once the veggies have softened. Stir fry until everything is properly cooked.
- Cheese Omelet with Toast
Cheese and eggs make most things taste good. Now imagine these two ingredients put together.
That’s right! I’m talking about a cheesy omelet. Start with making a usual omelet. Add shredded cheese on top about 2 minutes before folding the omelet close.
- Creamy Mushroom
This dish may remind you of the cream of mushroom soup. This dish is equally tasty if not more. And not difficult to make either.
The process is quite similar to making a creamy pasta. Just add sauteed mushroom to the creamy sauce instead of pasta. Or you could add both if you want!
- Pizza on a Bread
What’s easier than making a pizza? Making a bread pizza!
Basically you’ll be using the usual pizza ingredients but on a bread loaf. So the taste remains equally tantalizing as a pizza.
Spread your favorite tomato sauce on a slice of bread, add sausage meat, onions, bits of mozzarella and basil if you want. Bake it in the oven and it’s ready!
- Fried Rice
If you’ve got some left over rice, place it in the fridge. Bring it out the next day and get ready to make some fried rice.
For this you’ll need some ingredients but not much effort really. Chop some garlic, ginger, green onions, shallots, some bell peppers if you like.
Saute these veggies along with the rice. Season it with salt, pepper, soy sauce, green chilli sauce and some vinegar.
You can add a fried egg or some chicken to it.
- Creamy Potato Salad
This is one comfort dish I usually turn to on my lazy days. All you need is some good old boiled potato cut into chunks, some veggies like lettuce, carrot, corn, some boiled chicken and mayonnaise.
Mix all these ingredients together. Season as per taste. The best part is that you can have this as a cold salad too later on.
- Cheesy Quesadillas
What spells easier than some meat and cheese slapped between two tortillas and lightly grilled over a pan?
Cheesy quesadillas can be a funky meal for a teenager and one that goes well as a game – day snack too.
Remember to get some sour cream dip along with it.
- Quick Chicken Salad
Quite similar to how we made the potato salad, you can also make a chicken salad.
I mean a lean protein salad is any day healthier than a carb-based salad. Take chunks of boiled chicken, veggies like lettuce, onions, cherry tomatoes, and anything else you like.
Also include herbs like cilantro or parsley. Mix the ingredients with a combination of mayonnaise and greek yoghurt. Add seasoning and enjoy.
Ramen was discovered to be a quick easy dish which tasted amazing at the same time.
And there’s hardly any supermart that doesn’t store some brand of ramen.
You can experiment with the flavors and master the art of cooking ramen in the process.
Why Is It Important for Teenagers to Learn to Cook?
This is one of the questions I get asked a lot. But it really shouldn’t be. Cooking is as much an essential life skill as brushing your teeth. And it becomes all the more important for teenagers because:
- As teenagers, most of us will be going off to our respective colleges and universities. Or sometimes even getting a job involves moving away from home. This means you need to cook your own food.
- As a teenager, your body needs nutrition rich food. And eating fast food on roadside eateries isn’t always the best option health-wise.
- Cooking and learning to cook can be such a communal activity. It fosters bonds within friends and family. It is also therapeutic sometimes and so can help you get rid of the real-world frustrations.
Tips for Helping Teenagers Learning to Cook
Everyone starts somewhere. I started my culinary journey a few years back when my mum broke her leg and I’d have to help her around the kitchen. But now that I’ve made my way, I truly enjoy the process of cooking a meal.
However, when I first started, I struggled with some basics. Here are some tips to help you navigate through those difficulties.
- Get familiar with the different spices, veggies, fruits and their tastes. Cooking and eating can be a wonderful experience if you learn to enjoy the flavors. Once you know the flavors, you’ll be able to create your own dishes with unique flavor profiles.
- Get familiar with the tools. You don’t want to be grabbing gardening gloves instead of baking gloves! A kitchen is full of tools and gadgets. Get familiar and see how each one works. Be careful though, some culinary tools are sharp!
- Learn basic chopping skills. Knife skills are a chef’s great act. Weilding a knife in the kitchen properly is almost equal to wielding a sword on the battlefield. You’ll be amazed at how many different cuts and slices you can make on a veggie. But start with the basic ones. Learn to dice, chop roughly and finely, slice et cetera.
- Act independently and in control. When you leave for your college, you’ll hardly have any supervision. Hence start taking control when you’re prepping a meal at home. If an elder extends help, let them know you appreciate their concern but you want to be in charge of the dish. This also builds your confidence.
- Seek help when needed. Don’t take the previous tip in a different light. I’m not encouraging you to disrespect any one who is trying to help you. In fact, you will need help in the beginning. There’s no shame in wanting to learn and seeking help. So ask around if you’re unsure about anything.
- Learn about mise-en-place. Mise en place is just a fancy term for preparing for a dish. This includes organizing the cooktop, arranging the ingredients, chopping the veggies etc. It is a crucial step before you begin the actual cooking as it allows you to recollect the dish step by step and helps reduce mistakes.
- Learn about new recipes and note them down. You may see 30 easy recipes for teen. The 20 dishes suggested here are just the ones you could start with. There are many more dishes you could try and conquer. Everytime you are learning a new recipe remember to take notes of the exact measurements and quantities used.
- Learn to wash and handle veggies and raw meat. Vegetables need to be washed properly before they are cooked. Even with meat, there are ways to hygienically handle it. Make sure to learn about these carefully or you could risk poisoning yourself with Salmonella or some other bacteria.
- Last but not least – you need to practise all your culinary skills. Try making something everyday so your skills stay sharp.
Conversion Chart US-UK Measurements
One of the things I often face difficulty while following a recipe are the different measurements and conversions. And so it’s understandable how confusing it all may seem to a beginner.
Here’s a handy conversion table to help you through. (Although all the values are an approximate value)
|One-fourth of a cup||20 g||60 ml|
|One-third of a cup||43 g||78 ml|
|Half a cup||60 g||118 ml|
|Two-Thirds of a cup||80 g||158 ml|
|Three-Fourths of a cup||95 g||178 ml|
|A cup||125 g||236 ml|
Benefits of Teenagers Learning to Cook
Learning to cook brings in a lot of benefits for teenagers. One of the most obvious ones being the ability to cook on their own and feed themselves.
For learning help you can follow a Cookbook.
This can be such a relief for a parent, knowing their kid will be able to sustain at the university without having to reply on the unhealthy junk available outside.
Learning to cook also means that your teenager is learning to plan their meals and budget for it. This educates them in finances and budgeting. Also helps them develop decision making abilities.
Cooking their own meals would also mean they are picking up the groceries on their own. And when this happens they are learning the difference between fresh produce and stale food. Picking up alternatives, and making adjustments also helps them eat fresher and healthier.
Moreover, meal prep can be a fun activity that a couple fo friends can bond over.
Frequently Asked Question
Here are the answers to some of the most asked questions when it comes to a teenager cooking his/her own food.
How can I teach myself to cook?
Cooking isn’t a difficult exercise. Remove any doubt from your mind that it is not your cup of tea. Start with something simple like making a toast or some ramen. Stay committed to the process of learning and try out a new skill each day.
At what age should a child learn to cook?
I have seen 7-8 year olds trying to help around the kitchen. Infact, there’s a popular infact on Instagram helping his mother in the kitchen. So there’s really no age for you to learn cooking but generally after 12 children can start picking up complex dishes.
What should a beginner cook?
As a beginner, start with something easy like making a sandwich, ramen, pasta or a salad. Once you’re comfortable with this level of cooking you can proceed on to more complex dishes.
Remember the time you were learning the alphabets? It seemed difficult, did it not? Cooking is the same thing. It might seem difficult right now but is actually very calming.
I have been telling you how enjoyable cooking can really be. It’s finally time you head towards the kitchen and start making yourself a meal.