Five reasons why you should teach your children to cook

Teach your children to cook and one day they will cook for you

Teach your children to cook!

Tonight my 19 year old daughter made me the most delicious dinner. I left her very vague instructions: do something with the pork and the apples in the fridge. She sautéed apple slices in a little butter then added the pork loin fillets and cooked them for 10 minutes. She popped in a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard, about half a glass of white wine and salt and pepper. That was cooked up for a further 5 minutes or so. It was absolutely yummy! So the first reason you should teach your children to cook is that one day they will cook for you!

This got me thinking. There are so many reasons to teach your children to cook. If you cannot cook yourself, then I hope this post will inspire you to learn and then pass on the legacy. There is no good excuse not to. Great cooks share their skills all over the Internet these days. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and You Tube are awash with ideas and instructions.

Having fun and improving motor skills

My three daughters can all cook well. I started encouraging them to get involved from a very early age, getting them to chop up soft ingredients like fruit, veg and cheese with a knife (not a sharp one) from about three years old. They loved it! We baked and decorated cakes, made crumbles and biscuits, sandwiches, omelettes – anything and everything. They learned a lot about weighing ingredients, how to safely use a knife and other kitchen implements like a peeler, where ingredients were stored in the kitchen and, importantly, how to clear up!

Learning about nutrition

Another good reason for teaching your children to cook is that you can use it as an educational opportunity. As we went, I taught mine about nutrition. Which foods contained fibre, which were high in salt, sugar or fat and should be used sparingly, how items such as cheese and bread are made, and which foods contained lots of vitamins. I don’t mean I gave them a lecture; I mentioned this is passing. For example, ‘We are making our own oven chips as these are lower in fat that fried ones’. They may not all stick to it, but they know what a healthy plate of food looks like and how to have a well balanced diet.

Increasing independence

Two of my girls have already left home and the third is about to start university. I don’t have any worries about them living pale and undernourished on ready meals and takeaways. One of them frequently tags me in fabulous looking recipes she has found on Facebook and is about to try, one cooks for a couple of hours each Sunday for the week so she has a decent dinner when she gets back from work and the other…well, she is still at home and frequently cooks my tea! I have never forgotten dropping daughter number 2 at university and finding the freezer full of home made meals from one of her new room mates mothers. She clearly didn’t see the point of teaching her children to cook and was worried her son would starve to death!

Saving money

Home cooking is essential if you need to stick to a budget. Convenience foods and ready meals are so expensive. If you know how to pull together a quick casserole, pasta sauce and or roast dinner you are set for life. However, much or little money you want to spend on food, you will always be able to eat well. The more you cook, the more you can cook, so start your children early. As they grow, their skills and confidence will grow.  Look at recipes with them, write a shopping list and let them help you to do the food shop too, then they will understand how much the ingredients for their fabulous creations cost.

If you teach your children to cook, they will thank you for this amazing and useful life skill. It will help with their health, their bank balance and, very likely, their social lives!

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”
Craig Claiborne




17 thoughts on “Five reasons why you should teach your children to cook

  1. I agree with everything you say here. My mother taught me to cook when I was very young. I could turn out a Victoria sponge by the time I was 9 or 10 and a roast dinner (although she put on the gas for me and took the meat out of the oven) by the time I was about 11 or 12. By the time I was having Domestic Science at school I could already cook what we were being taught to cook, but what I learned there were food values, vitamins, minerals, how to cook what was called a ‘balanced’ meal, something sadly lacking in so many homes these days. If people had three decent meals a day, and I know this is now considered old fashioned and there is even a theory that breakfast is the worst meal of the day (I had a book about this but I gave up reading it and sent it to the charity shop – I still enjoy a light breakfast but not a cooked one) we wouldn’t need to snack quite so often.
    I taught our sons to cook as my mother had taught me. It is the most important lesson one can learn, it’s really self-preservation. Men, and even some women, who claim they can’t cook are, I think, pathetic. If you can read a recipe and have enough nous to buy ingredients, and have the necessary kitchen equipment, then there is no reason to claim you “can’t cook.”
    Margaret P

  2. Oh how I agree with you. My mother did not teach me – other than how to place a boil-in-the-bag chicken casserole into a pan of water and how to mix up Cadbury Smash. I do not exaggerate here. We were a singularly unadventurous family in terms of food and it was not until a boyfriend suggested that we ‘go for a Chinese’ that I had ever tasted anything more exotic than the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake! We did do Domestic Science for ONE term at school but apart from a Victoria sandwich which sunk in the middle and a dish of macaroni cheese that was fed to the dog next door, that was it.
    I left home at nineteen totally ill-equipped to produce a meal of any sort. Thankfully I married someone whose mother was rather more domesticated than mine and he was perfectly able to do so. I became a pretty decent cook and made sure that my own children were able.
    Margaret is right – there is no way that people ‘can’t’ cook. A recipe and ingredients are all that are needed. Practice and confidence will enable anyone to learn to improvise (my favourite cooknig term) and save on expensive ingredients.

  3. Well I absolutely loathe cooking, always have, daughter now grown with a family of her own and she is into food and cooking, as are her children. I see no reason to cook, bread, cheese, salads, fruit are all easy to prepare and eat on the hoof, bring on the day when we can get all our nutrients from a stomach filling pill instead of wasting precious time peeling, boiling or whatever in a tiled cell.

    • I find this quite sad, Sandra, as there is nothing nicer than producing a really lovely meal, especially if you think of it as an enjoyable activity rather than something you simply must do. Yes, it might take some time, but if you are organized you really don’t need to spend too long in the kitchen. Casseroles, once in the oven, cook themselves, as does a roast. Cakes are easy to make – no on needs to faff with cupcakes or icing, just bake a Victoria sponge or a simple fruit cake. I can make a Victoria sponge in half an hour and what is half an hour in 24 hours hours for the pleasure it gives to a family? Yes, you can get your nourishment from salads, eggs, cheese and fruit, but surely every now and again a lovely meal, perhaps fish done in white wine with a topping of parsley and spring onions, or a chicken roasted with lemon and garlic, makes a lovely change? I know I won’t be able to change your mind about cooking, I just feel sorry that you don’t enjoy it. I love to look at all the wonderful fruit and veg now available – when I was a child it was simply potatoes, carrots, onions and some greens, no exotic things like aubergines peppers when I was a child. Even though I make all our meals from scratch I still find time to enjoy lots of other pursuits – writing my magazine column, gardening, photography, walking, reading, visiting historic houses and gardens, meeting friends for lunch or coffee and housekeeping (which, again, I expect you might dislike). We will have to agree to disagree here, Sandra; I know we can’t all like the same things.
      Margaret P

  4. Couldn’t agree more! My daughter is 12, and this summer I have asked her to plan and make 1 meal every week. I will help her as needed. This week she has picked summer minestrone soup and deviled eggs. I am greatly looking forward to some new dishes!
    Here in the US students don’t have any domestic science/home economics classes any more, which I think is a great loss.

    • I hope Jane won’t mind my commenting, but this is lovely Jen! Like your daughter, I was cooking simple meals at age 12. Introducing children early to cookery is a really good start in life, as it teaches them so much.
      Margaret P

  5. Mine did take food and nutrition classes in Jr High and High school, but mostly made sweet stuff like cookies and Monkey Bread, which they then scoffed in class s we never saw any of it at home!

    I have 4 boys, one daughter and a husband, and for a long time, whilst slaving over a meal that at least 2 would turn their noses up at, I nurtured a hope that I could eventually allocate one day a week for each of them to cook, and on the 7th, for my turn, we’d get a takeaway!! 😀
    Sadly this hasn’t come to pass. 🙁

    They can all cook if they want to, but they don’t want to! It’s a combination of laziness and fussiness, which means the 2 eldest away at live on beans on toast, sometimes supplemented with cheese , as that’s all they can be bothered to cook.

    I must admit, I’m of the same mind as Sandra nix above and am happy to live on sandwiches in the summer, or homemade soup and toast in the winter, and only cook because the rest of the family expect to eat.
    Though now I’m only down to 3 kids at home and a husband recently working away during the week, it seems hardly worth cooking for so few people, so I’m making them fend for themselves most days while it lasts!! 😀

  6. Well I am just not interested in food and live alone so a bowl of cereal is a nice quick meal . I get really fed up as every magazine now seems to have a recipe in it, not interested, don’t drink or eat meat, I get really cross when I feel hungry as will have to stop what I am doing and waste time eating. We are all different and I suppose if you are unfortunate enough to be married then you have to cook, not for me.

  7. I started my own children at an early age but as they are now in their 40’s Ican’t remember when they started they are both good cooks ,the grandkids were about 18 months old so young my main worry was them falling of the stool. Both now cook well and go to cookery classes because they like cooking although one of them is a bit picky. I feel proper cookery should be taught in schools, my granddaughter now gets 6 lessons of cookery a year!

  8. Cooking with your family is very important, they learn where foods come from, the science behind food, the mathematics/ formulas things like pastry and sponges. It’s a fantastic learning curve. Ultimately knowing what has gone into your food.

  9. …….and what do you do if said children show absolutely no inclination to learn to cook?
    My son is a fabulous cook. He was always the one by my side helping until he reached his teenage years when he wouldn’t be seen in the kitchen at all. It obviously all stayed with him though as he now does most of the cooking for him and his little family.
    My daughter on the other hand steadfastly refused to learn to cook. There was no interest in anything remotely domestic.
    Due to the recent loss of one of my younger sisters I have put my foot down and insisted that she does learn to cook just in case anything happens to me and she has to provide food for herself and her Dad.
    She is doing very well but she is only learning because I have told her she has to and probably would rather have not.

  10. My daughter has just completed her Gcse in Catering and Hospitality and sadly this course is no longer taught where I live. I’ve taught both my children to cook from an early age as due to my illnesses I could be unable to feed them and me. It is a life skill .

  11. I couldn’t agree more. Bothy my sons loved to help me with cooking from an early age. They would always eat what they had helped to prepare and that was a good way to get them to eat healthily. They both went to university and I had no qualms about them feeding themselves well, nutritionally and economically, which they have continued to do into adulthood. One of my sons has Type 1 diabetes so it could have been even more of a worry if he had not been able to cook. The meal your daughter cooked for you looked delicious.

Comments are closed.