There are big differences in how and how much younger members of the family are involved in cooking at home. Most of them probably help with laying the table and the washing-up, but when it comes to cooking, then only two out of three children occasionally lend a hand in the kitchen. And this in spite of the fact that almost all children and adults (when asked) say that cooking together is fun.
Perhaps it’s the hectic pace of everyday life that leaves we grown-ups doing the shopping, deciding what’s for dinner, unpacking the groceries and preparing the meal? But if you want to avoid the classic student dish of spaghetti and ketchup becoming a staple component of your son or daughter’s diet, then you will need to take steps well before they leave home. And this is where we want to help.
Most parents of teenagers have with some incredulity discovered that the most obvious procedures in the kitchen are often uncharted territory for their children. This can result in almost comical questions, but of course in reality it reflects back on oneself. When your children were learning to ride a bike, we’d run alongside and behind the wobbly cyclist until we were able to let him or her go. And we taught them about the highway code and how to manoeuvre in traffic.
The best advice we can offer is that you should make the time to teach your children to cook. Do it on a weekday which is not dominated by leisure interests, long working hours and long days at school. Look at it as the family’s ‘making food day’, where together you decide on the menu, do the shopping and cook together in the kitchen. It’s fun, instructive and healthy. And all of a sudden, your child knows that salt is something you put on your boiled egg at the table.
It’s easy for beginners to make mistakes in the kitchen, and the only way to learn is through lots of practice (and making mistakes). You can’t read your way to becoming good at cycling. This also applies to cooking.
Nevertheless, we’ve drawn up eight practical and simple tips which you can pass on before your son or daughter leaves home: