Encouraging Teens to Cook for Themselves

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can encourage my teens ages 18 and 20 to cook for themselves? They are both in college and not working at this time. A friend told me I should buy a lot of microwavable foods like Hot Pockets to make it easy for them. I will be purchasing a George Foreman grill and a Fry Daddy this week to help them. I am just getting tired of cooking everyday for picky eaters.

By Onesummer

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

You may not like my response. If I were in your same situation, I would lay down the law and not cook for them. They will definitely cook for themselves or go hungry.

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

If they live at home and eat with the rest of the family there should be no problem if you cook for the whole family. The rule would be eat what is fixed for everybody or find something on your own. If they live in apartments, they should be able to figure it out for themselves. If you bring food to them they never will figure it out.

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

I would plan and post my menu at the beginning of the week, I would either tell them, or post a note, that THIS is what will be served. If whatever is being served does not suit them, they are free to fend for themselves. You could make a list of alternative suggestions: sandwiches, hot pockets, frozen pizza, etc. that they can prepare for themselves. (And make it clear they must clean up after themselves.)

I think I might avoid the fry-daddy as 1. no one needs that much fried food, and 2. they are likely to create a big mess with it that I cannot imagine they'll clean up.

The other bonus with a menu, you can make specific request for things they can help with, if you are not home when it is time to start meal preparation.

But they will never develop any independent skills if you don't force them to!

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

This might sound bad, but are they lazy and unwilling, or just kind of ignorant (about cooking) and don't know what to do/where to start?

If they're just being lazy and picky, I think you should cook whatever YOU like, and that's that. Perhaps even fix foods you know that they don't care for. They can learn not to be picky, or get off their bottoms and fix something for themselves.

If they don't really know what to do, include them in your cooking. Teach them how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Can you believe . . . when we got together, my husband made "grilled cheese" by toasting bread in the toaster, then microwaving it with cheese. That was 20 years ago, and it was okay to him. I wouldn't touch it! Now he knows how to make a real grilled cheese! Get a box of Hamburger Helper, and supervise. Or have them make tacos with you, they'd not only brown the meat, but have to chop up the lettuce, and make them grate the cheese (not buy the pre-grated stuff). Teach them how to bake a potato in the microwave for convenience. Or something in the crock pot (pulled pork is super easy and good guy food). These sorts of things are simple, and can serve as stepping stones for learning something more like home-cooking. And while you're at it, show them how immediately loading the dishwasher and quickly cleaning up the pots and pans makes everything easier.

I agree with Jilson about not getting the Fry Daddy. They're probably going to make a big mess, and if they don't know what they're doing it can be dangerous.

I hope they learn soon. I know that it's annoying to fix something for everyone, and someone will complain but not be motivated enough to fix something that they like. Best of luck to you!

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

At 18 and 20 they should be cooking for you, at my house I do not ask what they want to eat, I plan the menu, I cook it, they have the choice to eat or not eat, no eating just what you like and ignoring the rest, they choose not to eat, they get nothing until breakfast. My kids are 14,14,12,11. I started that right from the get go, they eat anything I put down, my 14 year old girl can cook a meal by her self, her brother simpler stuff, the 12 and 11 year old have to help prepare the meals, then they have turns at cleaning up the kitchen, I no longer do that.

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Anonymous Flag
September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I am not trying to be mean but I have to ask, "Are you kidding?" I was cooking for myself by the age of 12, except for Sunday family meals together, and my parents did not teach me! I learned by following recipe directions and adjusting to my own liking and we didn't have a microwave and my parents did not buy frozen foods for my brother or me!

18 and 20 and don't have added stress of a job outside of going to college? I think it's time they learn to be independent! Swim or sink and go hungry! If they don't want to cook they can learn to eat lots of raw fruits and veggies ;-)

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Sorry, I agree with the others-you shouldn't have to encourage these 2 young adults to cook for themselves, they should be doing it by now anyway. If they don't know how to cook, that is a disservice to them, what are they going to do when they go out on their own?

Do you have younger children at home that you have to cook for, or just the older 2? If it's just the older 2, then you should think about setting certain days-like Friday and/or weekends where they are on their own.

Tell them you will teach them some basics if they are interested. Buy them cookbooks to help them, there are a lot of easy books & even cookbooks for kids that teach everything.

If you are willing to buy their food, then tell them they need to make a grocery list for what they need.

My kids have always been on their own for lunch on the weekends. Even my 12 yr old knows how to make ramen noodles, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, etc.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Easy. Don't cook for them, they will figure it out. You are not doing them a favor by spoiling them this way. It's the same as enabling. Just Stop It!

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Quit cooking for them, throw out leftovers, buy parsnips, cauliflower, potatoes, squash, carrots that need peeling, cabbage. You get the idea. You can leave out a basic cookbook and they can figure out how to buy and cook for themselves. Oh yeah, don't give them money for food.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I have to agree with the other responses. You have created the "monsters" By doing everything for them. I started cooking when I was a very young child. My mother knew that it was part of her being a responsible parent to encourage me to do so.

Stop cooking for them. Start letting them grow up. And please don't buy a lot of unhealthy microwavable food. Buy fresh ingredients and get them a cook book....

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Ok, you got slammed so this post will be positive. I have a 19 year old grandson who lives on his own, works, and goes to school. And yes, he basically lives on pizza, but wants to do better. I compiled a cook book for him of meals that have 3, 5 and 6 ingredients. They are tasty, fast, and healthier than fry daddy's.

This is a good place to start:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en& ... J7k8yaTJmmCpHaNoe0mFQAAACqBAVP0Phl8w

It's long, but it covers a lot and there are more sites you can visit to get great ideas than you will ever need. Also, you can do the same at the library, and it just might inspire you to try them at home, then if they like them, they will take them with them when they fly the nest.

Another good idea is something I do. I have a veggie night, a salad night, a pasta night, etc. Then, I can plan my menus and shopping lists and and not have to shop so often.

Don't give up. If they develop good habits and food likes now, they will be healthier and happier when they do leave.

Good luck dear. Remember, they can't take away your birthday!

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September 23, 20100 found this helpful

Even though you've had an earful now about what you should have done, let me tell you it is NOT too late. Forget the Fry Daddy. And forget most of the frozen dinners. These young people both need to get on with LIVING, without your taking care of their nutrition every day. If they are not working, they have time to learn to cook. They know how to eat. Have them fix soup and a sandwich, scrambled eggs with bacon cooked on paper towels in the microwave. Grilled ham and cheese. About the easiest dinner to make is a pot roast in a crock pot. Brown the meat in a skillet on the stove, before putting it in the crock pot. Now add an onion, chopped, or a package of onion soup mix. Add a can of mushrooms and a can of diced tomatoes and let it cook on low for 5-6 hours, then add carrots, potatoes, celery, and finish cooking. If two college students can't make this, we're all in big trouble. And mom, Tough Love is over due. GG Vi

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