Included in this post is a free printable packet with tips, strategies, and easy recipes for anyone learning to cook on their own!

It doesn’t seem very long ago that I had a lot of very eager (very young!) “helpers” in the kitchen.

Young boys making cookies in messy kitchen.

Fast forward to now, and my oldest has decided it’s ok to just go ahead and be an adult and completely ignore how I feel about it! He found his way to Brazil to live for a few months and then headed off to his first semester of college.

College kid standing outside apartment.

He assured me every day at school that he was “kind of” cooking for himself, eating “some” fruits and veggies, and “definitely” looking forward to coming home to visit for all the home-cooked food.

Unique Kids + Unique Circumstances

Each of these young adults has a different path, a different plan. Some of them may not leave home right away. Others will head off to college, work opportunities, church missions, military service or life abroad! They might be living with roommates, living alone, getting married or living with immediate or extended family.

Each circumstance is incredibly unique!

Considering we are new to this season of life ourselves, I have zero advice on how to navigate the launching, nearly-launching, or not-ready-to-launch phase EXCEPT when it comes to cooking (and even then, circumstances will necessitate adaptation in almost every situation!).

Two teenage girls cooking at the stove.
My two cute nieces learning how to make ebelskivers. Katelyn, in the back is graduating from high school this month and leaving to college!

Cooking 101 Packet

I’ve prepared a simple printable packet for anyone who might want some help learning to cook on their own (or even while they are still living at home).

This packet is a new and improved version of a resource I prepared years ago when teaching some youth in my church congregation “how to be a rock star in the kitchen.”

Included in the printable are:

  • new tips
  • no-recipe meals
  • strategies for grocery shopping
  • essential kitchen equipment
  • a handy measurement chart
  • basic cooking recipes (many scaled down for smaller quantities)
  • compilation of easy dinner recipes (and a few easy snack/treat recipes!)
Cooking 101 packet: a handy guide for anyone learning to cook on their own.

Since circumstances, including budget, interest in cooking, and time available, among other things, will vary, consider this packet a basic guide and starting place for anyone who could use a kickstart to cooking on their own.

Teenage boy making dinner.
Jackson is an excellent cook when he wants to be!

I hope it’s helpful in some way and inspires whoever uses it to find excitement learning new skills in the kitchen.

If they graduate beyond the recipes in the packet, I happen to know of a really awesome, really delicious stockpile of recipes they can start testing out.

I really believe anyone can feel like a rock star in the kitchen (kid, teen, young adult, or full grown adult!) and have a lot of fun doing it!

Two kids laughing and holding chocolate cake.
These two hilarious kids (my daughter and her cousin) have a few more years before they hit young adulthood; they are finding A LOT of joy creating masterpieces in the kitchen like this cake they made for me!

It’s Never Too Late To Start Cooking with Kids

And here’s my quick plug for any of you with younger kids (and even teens): it’s never too late to get them started learning their way around the kitchen!

It’s hard to give up the control (and deal with the messes!) that come from letting kid/teen hands create in the kitchen. I get that 1,000%!!

However, letting kids learn their way in the kitchen will give them a lot of confidence and know-how when they are eventually cooking on their own.

I am trying to help my kids:

  • learn how to read and follow a recipe
  • find recipes they want to make (that get them excited!)
  • learn from the mistakes that will inevitably happen
  • understand how much it costs to make a recipe – and how to use the grocery budget accordingly

Not all kids are interested in cooking and baking, of course. I have a couple of kids who willingly ask to make recipes or help me in the kitchen. And for a few others, they act like I’ve pulled off all their toenails one-by-one when I ask them to help make something for dinner.

Young girl making pretzels.

Sunday Dinner Assignments

For the last couple of years, we’ve implemented the cleverly-titled system of Sunday Dinner Assignments. 😉 Although I know this works for many of you, I found that assigning the kids a dinner night during the school year or summer didn’t work consistently for our family.

This is how Sunday Dinner Assignments work.

  • on most Sundays, I write out the items that I would like made for dinner.
  • sometimes I’m specific with the recipe (i.e. main dish is Shepherd’s Pie), other times I just write the category (like dessert) and let them pick what they want to make.
  • I write one of their names by each assignment. I don’t let them choose, otherwise one of my kids, who shall remain nameless, would sign up for ice water every single Sunday.
  • I fill in the gaps where needed.

This very simple system has given the kids an opportunity to learn how to make homemade rolls, side dishes, and go to a bit more work for things like dessert or the main dish.

They’re learning, with my help, how to plan the timing of it so that everyone doesn’t descend on the kitchen 15 minutes before we want to eat dinner AND they each have to wash their own dishes.

Kids cooking in the kitchen.

In case anyone is wondering, there are no angels singing during Sunday Dinner Assignments. It’s a bit chaotic. There is always at least a bit of grumbling, and it is often very messy. In the interest of full disclosure, there have been a handful of times (ok, maybe more than that) when I can’t take it a second longer and I order everyone out of the kitchen and I take over and finish.

But it’s *mostly* working.

And it’s really fun to sit down to dinner and have everyone announce to Brian (who is gone all Sunday at church meetings) what part of dinner they made. Sometimes he’ll try to guess, but inevitably the kid that made the rolls is super offended when he gives credit to their older sibling who was assigned only to cut up fresh fruit that day. 😂

This system may not work for everyone – it’s just an idea to get those brain juices flowing! For us, it’s helping my kids in the here and now learn some basic cooking skills.

If this isn’t your time or season to take on the mess or stress of kids in the kitchen, it’s ok! Revisit it and develop a simple plan when it feels right for you and your family.

We’re all in this together!