By Jane Parent
At some point, your teen might find himself at home with an empty refrigerator or your young adult might have an apartment at college. While many before them have survived on pizza and fast food, cooking at home is cheaper, healthier, and tastes better. High school is the perfect opportunity to ease your teen into the kitchen. Before he leaves home, show your teenager a few cooking basics:
How to navigate the grocery store. You might be surprised by your teenager’s discomfort when you ask her to pick out tomatoes and apples in the produce section. A few minutes of instruction will go far. Your teenager should learn how to pick fresh produce, compare prices, and read labels.
Cook a few simple meals. It doesn’t have to be fancy. If your teenager can boil water, she can make pasta, which opens up a world of options. Eggs—scrambled, fried, omelets—are cheap and full of protein. Grilled cheese. Chicken and rice stir-fry. Loaded baked potato. Bagged salad with added meat or other veggies.
How to handle raw meat. Share basic rules of safe meat handling: Never put cooked meat back on a tray that held raw meat. Wash utensils that have touched raw meat before reuse. And use hot water or disinfectant to wash cutting boards and counters to cut down on the risk of food poisoning, E. coli, or salmonella.
When in doubt, throw it out. Remind your teenager to pay attention to expiration dates. No one likes wasting money, but the last thing you want is to get sick from eating expired food. A simple guideline: If you left it out on the counter and it smells funny or looks weird, throw it out.
Clean up. Everyone your teenager lives with—ever—will appreciate this.
Jane Parent is a freelance writer in Northeast Ohio and frequent contributor to Your Teen.