Has your teen has shown an interest in learning to cook? Or do you just want to encourage them to be a little more independent? Showing them the ropes in the kitchen is vital to ensure their safety and success.
Teens should learn the importance of food hygiene before they are left to their own devices in the kitchen. Start by explaining the importance of washing their hands before handling any ingredients. Teach them to wash fruits and vegetables before preparing a dish to rinse away harmful bacteria or pesticides.
Make sure they don’t ever use products which have exceeded their use-by date, to ensure they get the most nutritional value and don’t put their health at risk. For products without use-by or best-before dates, teens should learn to spot the signs that an item is no longer fit to consume. This includes the appearance of mould or changes in look and smell.
Another important lesson is to learn to keep raw meat separate from other ingredients. Explain the use of designated chopping boards and utensils when preparing raw meat products.
The equipment needed for cooking can present a lot of risks if not used properly. It may seem obvious, but making sure teens use kitchen equipment safely is the most important skill they can learn.
Knives pose a particular risk when in inexperienced hands. Take the time to explain the function of each knife so they can select the best tool for the task at hand. Next, demonstrate basic chopping skills. Advise them to take it slowly and keep the fingers of their other hand out of the way as they cut. You may wish to monitor this the first few times until you are confident they can proceed safely.
The hob and oven is another potential threat in the kitchen. Teach your child the importance of using clean, dry oven mitts when using the oven. Explain that using anything else, such as a dish towel, does not provide adequate insulation and could result in a painful burn.
If you also have small children in the house, your teen should be reminded to turn pan handles inwards to avoid pans being knocked or pulled off the hob.
Learning the Basics
Once your teen has mastered the essential health and safety elements of cooking, they are ready to learn the basics. This will enable them to prepare simple dishes. Start by teaching them how to boil a pan of water safely and correctly. This will give them the know how to prepare boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, rice and pasta.
Follow up by showing them how to drain the pan correctly. Show them how to use the oven, teaching them to accurately follow instructions on packaged items. You may also want to show them how to check that meat is cooked thoroughly. This can be done by sight alone, or with the help of a thermometer to guarantee it is cooked well enough for safe consumption.