The same cute little boy you had helping you in the kitchen is now reaching manhood. It’s okay, mom. I know it’s hard to let go. On the positive side, he’ll probably still try to eat the cookie dough and cajole you into being a “taste tester” once the dish is finished. After all, those little ways of his still matter and hold dear to your heart. In addition, as he becomes more independent, it frees up your time to get some other things done. Notably, some self-care that may tend to get shelved.
But before you can fully unleash your son in the kitchen, he needs to learn several things. Here are my top 10 things you should teach your son in the kitchen:
A Servant’s Heart
Maybe your son isn’t quite as thrilled about the idea of being more independent in the kitchen. Or maybe he is and will face days where he doesn’t want to put in the effort. In either case, while his heart may not be set on preparing foods, it can still be set on serving out of love. Here are some principles to go over with him about this:
- Hebrews 6:10. God remembers the work we do and the love we show for others.
- Proverbs 11:25. When blessing others, he will be enriched.
- Luke 6:38. As he gives it will be given to him- measure for measure.
- Colossians 3:23-24. The Lord will remember when he works willingly as though he’s doing work for the Lord.
Safety in the Kitchen
In the first place, the kitchen is a purposeful room in the household. Of course, this is no time for goofing around. Secondly, he needs to know what to do in the event that something dangerous might happen.
- Fires. He needs to know what to do if there’s a grease fire. Water is not the answer. Therefore, he needs to know which type of extinguisher to use in the event that there is one. Also, when was the last time the smoke detector was in check? While it may not be directly in the kitchen, it’s a necessary bi-standard tool.
- Stove tops. Keeping the handles to pots and pans facing inwardly is important. Bumping handles and causing pans to fly off of the stove top isn’t good. Furthermore, it helps to keep little ones safe if they’re around. Also, he needs to make sure the burners are off once he’s done using them.
- Ovens. It’s definitely time to make sure he’s aware of the importance of a clean oven. After all, an oven fire is no laughing matter.
Tools in the Kitchen
How many kitchen tools are around nowadays? Can you keep track? Here are a few of the traditional basics that he should at least know how to use.
- Knives. He needs to be aware of how to use different types of knives. Not to mention that he needs to learn how to properly hold and use each knife.
- Measuring cups and spoons. Your teen son will need to learn how to measure dry and we ingredients with the proper measuring tools.
- Spatulas. In the event that he’s scrambling eggs or flipping pancakes or burgers, he needs to know how to use a spatula.
- Pots and pans. Shapes, sizes, depths, all serve a variety of purposes.
Following a Recipe
- Overview. It’s so helpful to read the recipe first in order to make sure all ingredients and tools are on hand.
- Dry and wet ingredients. Usually, he will need to prepare these in separate bowls and then mix them together at some point. If he skips this, he might wind up with results that he wasn’t anticipating.
How to Prep Foods
This is often what makes or breaks the idea of breaking bread with some people. Proper preparation and handling of food is a matter of health. Or simply for the enjoyment of a well-prepared meal.
- Clean hands. Besides washing hands initially, it needs to take place between handling raw meat, vegetables, fruits, etc.
- Dry beans. Pre-soaking is an important step. But sometimes a quick soak method will work. It’s valuable to learn how to do both.
- Washing veggies and fruits. For health’s sake, we really do want to make sure we wash away soil, residues, and bacteria.
- Cutting boards. While it may be tempting to use the same cutting board for all foods, safety standards call for using separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables from that of meats. It helps prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses.
How to Cook Meat
Some people handle cooking meat better than others. Of course, if your family doesn’t eat meat, this won’t be essential for your teen son to learn. But it’s still good for him to be aware of.
- Proper handling. Clean hands are critical. In the event that gloves are a preference, he needs to know what kind to use for food handling.
- Thermometers. Where would we be without them? He will need to know what temperature to cook meat at and at what temp it’s done.
How to Work with Dough
This can be tricky. Not all breads are the same.
- Flours. Not all flours are the same. And if you have a gluten-free kitchen, you’ll know that’s especially the case.
- Yeast. This can make or break a bread. So long as he knows how to activate it properly, he’ll be set.
- Working the dough. Unless it’s an artisan bread that doesn’t require it, he’ll have to learn how to knead the dough. Especially so that he doesn’t over do it.
God has given us so many flavors to enjoy. Although some combinations work better together than others.
- Spices. They can add flavor and aroma, enhance the taste of food, and change the color.
- Herbs. These can add flavor and freshness to several meals. To say nothing of how some herbs taste best when used fresh.
- Zests. Add lemon or orange zest to some recipes and a whole new world of flavors make the taste buds dance with delight.
Creativity in the Kitchen
Certainly, there is freedom in the kitchen to experiment with new ideas.
- Altering recipes. Once he has basic recipes to follow, he can alter flavors by using different spice or herb combinations than what the recipe calls for.
- Creating his own recipes. Provided that he has a good handle on how food chemistry works, he can invent new baked goods. Or new cooked recipes. Maybe he’ll create the latest salad craze.
Last but not least, he’ll have to know how to put everything back in order when he completes his duties as a chef.
- A place for everything. Whenever he is finished using ingredients, it’s an efficient idea to put it away. This helps speed up the cleaning process and also helps him keep track of ingredients he has put in the recipe.
- Sanitizing. Especially meat juice needs to be cleaned up a certain way. But all surfaces and tools need to be thoroughly cleaned with proper measures.
- Sweeping and mopping. Those kitchen floors can look disastrous. Attention needs to be given to them as well.
Time for Teaching Your Son
The way each of us spends our time varies greatly. Some of us have little ones at our feet that demand our time and take up a lot of energy. Others work part-time or full-time and homeschool. While others are busy with caring for elderly family members or are involved in other ministries. By all means, whatever holds you back, feel freed up from having to teach your son everything. No one can do it all.
With this in mind, Kids Cook Real Food offers an outstanding series of courses aimed at teaching kids of all ages how to cook. And I have great news! For a limited time, Kids Cook Real Food is offering my readers a great deal of 65% off the on the Knife Skills Class. That makes this class just $7 (reg. $20) and is a great way to convince yourself of the high quality of these courses before diving in completely.