Cooking can be intimidating for teens, but there will inevitably come a time in adulthood when it becomes a necessary skill. Rather than sending your teenager off to a world of radiator quesadillas and canned soup, teach them everything they need to know to create nutritious and delicious meals on their own. Not only will they learn how to prepare meals, but they will also learn how to shop for foods, stick to a budget, and learn invaluable safety skills. And, with increased mealtime at home, who doesn’t want some extra help in the kitchen? The toaster oven is a great place to start – here’s why.
Why a Toaster Oven?
Toaster ovens are a simplified version of the oven. There’s less to clean and can be easier to use, especially if your model has features such as automatic shutoff or an Easy Reach® Roll-Top door. Sure, the toaster oven is a no-brainer for making teen favorites like Quick Pan Pizza or Sheet Pan Nachos. But it can also make easy work of more sophisticated recipes ranging from simple snacks like Baked Asparagus Fries to heartier meals like Crunchy Baked Chicken Tenders.
For a little extra crunch and crisp, try an air fry toaster oven that has all the features of a traditional toaster oven plus air frying functionality. Start with a batch of Parmesan Fries or try Air Fryer Cinnamon Rolls to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Start with Meal Planning
Begin the process of teaching your teenager to cook by meal planning together. Ask your teen what they are interested in cooking and have them research some easy recipes to start. Take them shopping for the ingredients, or if you have the ability to have groceries delivered or pre-purchased for pickup, place the order together and encourage them to stick to a pre-determined budget. These will prove to be life skills they will be glad to have later down the road.
Discuss Safety Rules
Walk through the process of each of the cook modes on your toaster oven or air fryer toaster oven with your teen so they can get familiar with them. Discuss what you can and cannot put in a toaster oven, like paper or cardboard products and plastic dishes. Remind them not to leave the oven unattended and not to leave anything sitting on top of it, especially during use, since the surface can become hot. Last, review safe food handling tips with your teen to avoid cross-contamination or undercooked food, as well as knife safety and other food prep
Now that you’re ready to tackle the toaster oven, share with your teen a few basic cooking tips. Help them prepare meals a few times so they can get comfortable working with both the toaster oven and the food. Remind them to read the whole recipe all the way through before beginning, in case there are any special steps they will need your assistance with, like browning butter on the stovetop. Gather all of their ingredients for a recipe before getting started (so you don’t realize halfway through you don’t have any shrimp for your Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas or Coconut Shrimp!)
Ready to roll? Have them browse all of our toaster oven-friendly recipes and choose a few for next week's menu.
Ready to introduce your teen to another kitchen appliance—how about the simple convenience of the slow cooker?! Try these 6 Slow Cooker Pantry Staple Recipes for Hunkering Down at Home with Kids.