Saturday, June 14, 2014

Essential Life Skills: Cooking

teach children to cook
Don't raise an 'educated fool'.  Teach life skills, too.

Sooner or later, your child will grow up and move away from your home.

Are you teaching them what they need to know to survive on their own?

My own children have been a little surprised at how few students possess the skills needed to live on their own.

Over the next few weeks, I will have a series of posts on skills your student needs.  These are based on what I have observed lacking in college students, young adults, and even young mothers.

Since everybody must eat, let's start with cooking.

Many young adults don't learn to cook either because their mother doesn't cook, or because they never showed an interest; consequently, they were not taught.

In a rare 'light bulb' moment many years ago, I decided that my children were all going to learn to cook - girls and boys.  From that point on, each child was responsible for planning and cooking lunch one day a week.  Yes, making a meal for nine people because daddy comes home for lunch.

In the beginning, they were required to plan a lunch and make the same meal on their assigned day for a month.  That way they made a recipe at least four times and became proficient, or at least familiar, with the skills needed for that dish.

Sandwiches were not allowed.  They found a recipe in a cookbook, made sure I bought the ingredients, and planned how much time they needed to have lunch ready on time.

My youngest child was six or seven years old at the time, so I did help her and teach her.  I can now leave her in charge of meal preparation when I am gone from home and have confidence that the family will eat well.

Where do you begin?

First, let your student know they are about to embark on a fun learning project.  Students of any age can learn to cook.  Younger ones obviously need guidance from an adult.  Older students who don't know their way around the kitchen will need guidance, too.  

Whatever the age of your child, teach them to cook.  If you have a young adult who is leaving home soon, give them a crash course!

Second, make a plan and be consistent.  Start with easy things and then move on to more difficult tasks.  Let your student help decide what to cook, but don't just bake cookies.

I found an excellent website by Jamie Oliver for absolute beginners in the kitchen.  It includes basic skills, recipes, fact sheets, and activity sheets.  You could use this website for a cooking or nutrition curriculum or just have your student work through it on their own.

No hamburger helper here, Jamie focuses on fresh and healthy food.

Most of my children are all grown up now and most of them enjoy cooking.  Nearly all of them like to experiment with different recipes and they all have their specialty.  

My youngest is particular about presentation, but doesn't like making cookies.  But that's okay, because her brother makes cookies that are to die for!  If you ask nicely, he might bake you some.

Do your children cook?  If not, start teaching them.  It is a lifelong skill that they will be glad to possess.

Here are some recipes that any beginner can probably make. 

Other posts in this series:  Money Management, Clothing Care

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