Toddlers and teens can have a lot in common; both age groups often have a fierce desire for independence, a streak of rebellion and are prone to the occasional tantrum. The teenage years are notorious for parental power struggles, and food can be just one of the issues up for debate. The desire to feed our children well is a primal instinct and one we have for good reason; but trying to take too much control over your teens’ diet can end in disaster.
Sometimes, the key to getting teenagers to eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy relationship with food is enabling them to gain their own independence in the kitchen.
We’ve put together a selection of recipes that will help your child gain the basic skills they need to cook confidently on their own. Now all you’ll have to argue about is the washing up…
When encouraging your teen to cook, the best approach can be to help them organise the ingredients they need – and then take a step back. You can always be on hand if they need it, but helicopter parenting will almost certainly not be welcome in a hot kitchen.
The humble stir-fry is a great starting point for the beginner cook, because it has few instructions, it’s speedy, simple and you can pack them full of fresh veg. From pineapple, beef & ginger to simple vegetable & prawn noodles, these recipes make the perfect springboard for cooking balanced meals, independently.
Watch our video for more information on how to make a stir-fry.
Pineapple, beef & ginger stir-fry
Noodle stir-fry with crunchy peanuts
Thai prawns & green beans
Our top stir-fry recipes
Let your teen channel some Neapolitan vibes by making their own pizza from scratch. Although this may sound daunting for younger teens, it only takes a handful of simple ingredients to make the homemade tomato sauce and bread base. Otherwise, if you’re short of time, just use a shop-bought pizza base that they can layer on their favourite ingredients. After they see how easy it is, you may start to get requests for a bespoke stone pizza oven!
Pizza with homemade sauce
Pizza margherita in 4 easy steps
Roast cauliflower cheese pizza
Our best pizza recipes
Making a curry is all about the art of balancing a large array of flavours and textures to create a full bodied, fragrant dish rather than a clashing calamity. It’s always best to start with the basics, so teens can experiment to taste and add extras as they go along. Our vegan Thai curry uses tofu cubes and plenty of veg to provide bulk, while curry paste, lime and coriander provide a fresh burst of flavours to compliment the creamy coconut milk.
Vegan Thai green curry
Easy chicken curry
Creamy lentil & veggie curry
Our easiest curry recipes
All teens are likely to have a favourite pasta dish, which will end up being their easy go-to option after flying the nest. Help them to expand their pasta repertoire with our fail-safe recipes, including punchy meatball bake, pesto pasta, spaghetti bolognese, green spaghetti & meatballs and a cheesy pasta bake. Once they’ve mastered a rich ragu sauce, they’ll be able to take on anything!
Our easiest pasta recipes
Sausage pasta recipes
Chicken pasta recipes
Vegetarian pasta recipes
Healthy pasta recipes
5. Bowl food
There’s nothing more satisfying then preparing a beautiful bowl of food to scoop with your spoon. Whether your kids want to compile a colourful lunch or energising breakfast bowl, painting the ranbow will ensure they’re packing in a range of fruit and veg while honing their culinary creativity.
Chicken & veg bowl
Burrito bowl with chipotle black beans
Quick chicken hummus bowl
Feta & clementine lunch bowl
All our bowl food recipes
This is basically a bit of a graduation from making your own sandwich, but creating something simple and delicious from scratch can feel like a real milestone. This recipe involves simple kitchen tasks like slicing and frying vegetables and handling a hot griddle pan – but there are relatively few steps to follow. A great recipe for your teen to trial cooking for a friend, and the results are scrumptious.
Sweet potato & chorizo quesadilla
Grilled courgette, bean & cheese quesadilla
Chicken Kiev quesadilla
All our quesadilla recipes
Omelettes are a great stand-by meal for a hungry teen, and most of us usually have a box of eggs spare. Once they’ve cracked the basic recipes they can start getting creative with ingredients like feta & semi-dried tomatoes or chorizo, potato & cheese. Plonk your teenager down in front of our how to make a perfect omelette, and they shouldn’t be able to go too far wrong.
Chorizo, potato & cheese omelette
Omelette in a bun
All our top omelette recipes
Chilli is one of those age old recipes that will always be passed down through generations with a few special family twists along the way. Whether your teens want to stir up a meaty classic or hearty plant-based version, our quick and hassle-free recipes will form a great base for them to master this comforting one-pot.
Chilli con carne
All our chilli recipes
If you have a battle with your teenager over eating breakfast, then a fruit-packed smoothie might make a good compromise. There’s something quite satisfying about blitzing one of these up, and they also make for a good mid-afternoon booster. Super simple to make, our peach Melba smoothie and breakfast super-shake should be able to tempt most teens into action.
Strawberry green goddess smoothie
Two minute breakfast smoothie
Peach Melba smoothie
All our smoothie recipes
Simple baking recipes are a great way of gaining confidence in the kitchen, and the show-off potential can make them more appealing to a new chef. If you are worried about your teenager’s sugar intake, then this may help channel that desire for a sugar fix into something more wholesome. Baking something quick and easy can also make for a therapeutic break between study sessions.
Choc chunk, cashew & cranberry cookies
Chocolate brownie bites
Giant cookie cake
Sugar-free banana cake
Our easiest baking recipes
Get more teenage cooking inspiration below…
Healthy eating: what adolescents need
Healthy lunches for… teenagers
Party ideas for teens
How to talk to your teenager about food
Summer party ideas for teenagers
Are your kids kitchen-averse or budding chefs? We’d love to hear in the comments below…