Pizza, fast food, chicken tenders, French fries, energy drinks…These are some of the staple foods in a teen’s diet. A recent study showed that childhood obesity has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Differences in daily routine, the structure around mealtimes, and lack of physical activity have all contributed to a decline in children’s and teen’s overall health.
Most teenagers today are constantly on the go, always busy with schoolwork or studying, working a part-time job, or volunteering in their communities. Trying to find time to teach them life skills, like how to do laundry, make their bed, and cook for themselves, can be a challenge.
Because of their busy schedules, many teens just pick up fast food or grab junk food out of the pantry to snack on. One way you can help your teenager embrace a healthier lifestyle is to encourage them to eat nutritious meals and snacks, either ones they pick up on the go or cook for themselves.
Instead of making unhealthy choices, what if your teen could learn to cook things like vegan French toast, tetrazzini, shrimp and avocado soup, or lemon chicken? You can positively influence your teenager, now and for their future, to make healthy choices by teaching them how to cook.
Teaching your teen how to cook
Teens find a lot of recipes on social media, and this is a great way for them to watch cooking in action. What if you want your teen to know more about safety in the kitchen, the difference between measuring liquids and dry ingredients, and how to stay organized when they cook?
If you want to offer your teenager a great, hands-on cookbook with the basics they need, then The how-to cookbook for teens is a great start. It includes 100 recipes and teaches the basics of preparation, cooking, and safety in the kitchen along with helping them build on fundamentals to create really tasty dishes.
The how-to cookbook for teens is colorful, with simple and easy-to-follow instructions that will get teens excited about cooking. I even learned a few things I didn’t know, and I’ve been cooking for my family for almost 30 years.
Meet the author
Julee Morrison is a mother of 6 and a long-time blogger who considers herself a cupcake connoisseur. She has been featured in The LA Times, BonAppetit.com, and Disney’s Family Fun Magazine. Morrison has written 4 cookbooks that teach teens and college students fun and easy ways to cook foods they will actually want to eat.
In her cookbooks, she shares some of her family’s recipes and shows young cooks how to make quick meals everyone in the family will love.
Geared towards teens
This cookbook is written for teens. It takes into account the fact that they don’t have a lot of time, so the sentences are short and get right to the point. The author also understands that teenagers, who are already stressed about school and other areas of their life, don’t want more stress when learning how to cook. She encourages them to accept that they will make mistakes and to keep trying.
I raised 2 daughters, and our fun times involved their helping me cook and learning how to piece a meal together. Both of my girls now love to cook and bake because of the memories we created while they were growing up. We made food preparation an enjoyable experience, even if it was something simple.
The techniques and easy-to-follow instructions from this cookbook are some of the same tools I used when teaching my girls how to cook. As I was skimming through the introduction, there were a couple of things the author mentioned which I didn’t know about basic skills. It was great to discover there were still some things I can learn, and I was excited to read more.
Begin with the basics
I am an organization guru, and my kitchen is my sacred space. Ask any of the kids in my household about my alphabetized spices, and they will tell you how important mise-en-place is to me! I appreciate that the author starts by emphasizing that an efficient kitchen means “everything has its own place.”
Successful students know that getting good grades entails starting with a plan to be organized and use the best tools. The same is true when teens cook. In chapter 1, the author walks them through the essentials of cooking. Tools like oven mitts, baking sheets and pans, and different types of measuring cups are just some of the basics every young chef needs.
Morrison’s 7 tips on how to be a good cook include basic knowledge of moving around in the kitchen, having things at your fingertips, and seeing cooking as an adventure with something new to try each time you cook.
Safety in the kitchen
The author then addresses safety in the kitchen. We take it for granted that adults know what to do in case of a kitchen fire, but teens don’t automatically know they shouldn’t pour water on a grease fire. I appreciate how Morrison takes time to explain the different types of fires that can occur and how to manage them.
She talks about burns and other injuries, like cutting yourself with a knife. Again, these are areas where adults just know what to do, but teens could use some beginner’s knowledge. Bacteria and sanitizing are also areas of safety the author talks about, giving teenagers guidance on how to keep their tools and prep areas clean to prevent the spread of infection.
Getting started with cooking
In chapter 2, teens learn how to get started with cooking. Morrison begins by explaining the importance of getting your work area ready before you start cooking, gathering ingredients, and prepping them as needed.
I really like how the author includes cooking terms, especially when explaining heat settings with butter as an example of what happens to an ingredient at different temperatures. Using simple words and describing what teens will see happen to the butter, she gives visual learners a better understanding of what to look for as they begin to cook.
The author emphasizes the importance of always reading a recipe twice, no matter how simple it may appear. Given the fast pace in most areas of their lives, teens can use cooking to help them slow down, process information accurately, and look more closely at the details. The skills they learn just from reading recipes when cooking can benefit them in many other areas.
Morrison doesn’t assume teens know the basics of cooking. She explains how to measure dry and wet ingredients and how to mix ingredients together by whipping, stirring, whisking, or some other way. The author also spends time explaining the proper way to handle knives and how teens will learn to use them for prepping ingredients.
Cooking in a pan or the oven, sautéing, frying, and baking are some of the cooking methods Morrison introduces teens to. She wraps up this chapter by telling her young readers about the recipes in the book, ones they can use for each meal of the day and snacks, and urges them to look for the tips and tricks along the way in order to become seasoned chefs.
Why you should buy this cookbook for your teen
This cookbook is one I would’ve loved to share with my daughters as they were growing up. It’s not cluttered with a lot of graphics, which can be distracting. The pictures of the finished meals are positively mouth-watering and presented in such a way that teens will feel they can offer the same eye-appealing dishes to their own families.
With the exception of family dinners, very few of the recipes have more than 5-6 ingredients, and many of those will be things you already have in your kitchen. There are some more adventurous ones, like kale and fresh herbs, which will improve your teen’s cooking techniques.
The author takes into account dietary restrictions, like gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy-free. At the beginning of each recipe, she makes it easy for teens to see which ones will meet the requirements of different lifestyles.
Before each recipe, she offers a brief introduction to the dish, incorporating different ways in which it can be served or how to make it more challenging the next time your teen cooks it. Check out the recipe for banana bread and her recommendation to roast the bananas first—I’ll be trying this the next time I bake!
Teens will like the easy how-to-steps in getting started as Morrison has made sure cooking doesn’t seem like another hard thing to do. They will also be challenged by the more complex recipes, like shrimp and avocado soup.
The author includes recipes teens can make just for themselves along with meals for the whole family. She also provides recipes for snacks and grab-and-go breakfasts, so teenagers can keep healthy options at the ready instead of reaching for a candy bar from a vending machine or a fast-food drive-thru.
What recipe is a good start?
There are some really great-looking recipes in this cookbook for teens. It was hard to pick the one I wanted to try first. I remembered what my daughters said about their memories, and how we were always willing to try something new, just for the experience of cooking together. Thus, I opted to try the recipe for black bean burgers.
This is a recipe that would take a teen very little time to gather the ingredients, prep, and cook. It can be especially helpful on a night when mom or dad forgot to thaw out the chicken! Everything they need for this recipe will probably already be in the pantry and the fridge.
Black bean burgers
- can opener
- medium mixing bowl
- wooden spoon
- large mixing bowl
- medium skillet
- 4 Tbsps olive oil divide this into 4 equal parts of 1 Tbsp
- ½ onion
- 1 15.5 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 pieces bread (torn into small pieces)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper (freshly ground)
- ½ cup flour
- Dice the onion.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet on medium heat.
- Put the onion in the skillet and saute for 4-5 minutes, until it is soft and see-through. Take it off of the heat.
- Mash the black beans in the large mixing bowl with the wooden spoon until they are just about smooth. Put in the cooked onion, the onion and garlic powders, the pieces of bread, the salt, and the pepper.
- Add the flour 2 tablespoons at a time and mix it all together. Don't worry if it’s a little thick.
- Form 6 burger patties, about ½ inch in thickness.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil in the skillet, again over medium heat. Put in 2 patties and cook them on each side for 2 minutes, or until they are heated all the way through. Go through this step again for the other patties, 2 at a time.
The How-To Cookbook for Teens: 100 Easy Recipes to Learn the Basics
- A good cook should have basic knowledge of moving around in the kitchen.
- Cooking can help teens slow down and process information accurately.
- The recipes meet requirements for different lifestyles.
You need this if...
- Your teen is ready to learn how to cook.
- Your teen wants to hone their cooking skills to prepare meals for the family.
- Your teen has little time to cook healthy.