What better time to allow your teens into the kitchen to train and teach them a thing or two that they can take with them to college, or when they leave home, than over the holidays! Maybe your teens already know how to cook, but if they don’t, invite them to start with using up leftovers!  They will be out of school with nothing to do but be bored and fight with their siblings, so why not give them a fun assignment?

For example, after Turkey Day, let them come up with three ideas of how to use the leftover turkey in other dishes.  Tell them you want them to come up with the ideas, make a list of what they need, and go with you to purchase and prepare (or they can go alone, if they drive!)  The weekend after Thanksgiving, let them give you that much needed break from the kitchen, and prepare a couple of meals for the family!  They can look up turkey wraps or sandwich ideas, or they can put together a turkey bowl, or even make a turkey salad!

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, offer them chances to make other dishes that you might need.  Maybe you’re going to need an appetizer, a dessert, and a side dish, for gatherings you’re going to attend or host.  Or perhaps the family will need some fun breakfast items on Christmas morning while opening gifts!  Tell them now to start looking for say…recipes with no more than 5-6 ingredients…to keep it simple. 

After Christmas, you’re going to be tired again!  And those kids will still be home for another week giving you grief if they’re bored!  Let them peruse your pantry and fridge and see what all you have left from all the hoopla associated with the holidays.  Ask them to put together two different food trays for the family.  Ask them to include fruit, cheeses, nuts, meats, spreads or jams, etc. all arranged nicely and pretty on a cutting board, or a pretty tray.  They can look to Pinterest for ideas.

As your teens start to make and create, give them a notebook where they can write down their recipes and ideas, for future use.  This way they can have it when they become an adult, and it will be full of ideas for them to use on their own!  In fact, give them the notebook now and let them fill it up until 2020 begins!

Teens want to be given responsibilities and like it when we affirm them as they show us their skills and smarts.  They may not like the idea at first, but make it fun, make the notebook cute, and hand them some cash (limited) to get a few things to get started.  Here are a few guidelines to share with them, to  get them started:

  • Use up leftovers first

  • Present the idea (to mom) before you make it

  • Make it simple, yet tasty

  • Clean up afterwards

  • Record your work


Be sure to applaud their efforts and ooh and ah over their creations.  Who knows, you might have a teen chef on your hands that will help you out from now on!  Wouldn’t that be grand?

The Day After
by Marcy Lytle

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