Teens can participate in making dinner too!
My journey in teaching my kids to eat and make healthy food has evolved and changed over the last 10 years. When they were young, I would involve them in small tasks in the kitchen as we cooked side by side. I’d teach them skills, and we were definitely creating memories! As they’ve grown and we’ve all gotten busier, they’ve taken on more tasks by themselves, and they even make entire meals when I work late, or I hire them to make the family dinner! lol. My 16 year old wanted me to buy her ballet shoes, so she agreed to make dinner twice a week all summer long! Pointe shoes are pricey! I had to get something good out of it. Also, the older my kids get, the more time I spend at the office, often coming home right before dinner starts.
It’s so important to not only teach kids cooking skills, but also kitchen RESPONSIBILITIES! After all, it not only helps out the entire family, but sets them up to succeed when they eventually leave home!
So, how do I get my teenager to make dinner?
TEEN DINNER TAKEOVER
1) Let your teenager choose the meals.
This alone gets my kids more interested in making dinner than any other thing on this list. Not only do they already have some favorite meals they want to learn how to make, but they also want to eat those dinners! I have a few cookbooks that they can browse, we have our online meal plan membership of course that they choose from, and they actually like to do a google search on their own for meals they want to try!
2) Don’t hesitate to offer incentives or privileges.
They are teenagers after all, and giving them a little extra reason to help you out can be very effective! I am always looking for a way for my kids to “earn” something that I may have bought them, but they just don’t know it. Some things I’ve bargained with include, staying out extra late with friends, admission cost to the local trampoline park, and of course, ballet pointe shoes!
3) Make it a habit
The more often and consistently your teens can make dinner, the more a part of their routine it becomes. Once it becomes a habit, such as, your oldest daughter makes dinner every Thursday, her schedule becomes routine, and everyone is crystal clear on the expectations.
4) Lead by example
I’m sure your kids have seen you make dinner a LOT while they were growing up, but put yourself on the calendar right along with them. If your daughter always makes dinner on Thursday night, make sure she knows that your night is Wednesday and you can set an example that you all pitch in.
5) Be specific
Being vague will just lead to being disappointed and it’s the fastest way to get kids discouraged about helping out in the kitchen! It’s helpful and comforting to not only have your expectations crystal clear, but makes everyone happier to pitch in. Be as specific as you have to be, such as, what time to start dinner, how many people they need food for, and assignments for cleaning up!
Because I feel so passionately about having your teens take their turn to make dinner, I created a little booklet for you to share with them! It’s got some resources for you as well as our top 10 recipes that are super easy to make, and a chart for you to make the assignment and tape it to the fridge! Seriously, this thing will not only start the conversation you should be having with your kids, but also give them a way to make it work for both of you! Check it out here==> $4.99!
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie