Before your children fly the nest, they must be able to feed themselves. Rather than relying on take-home leftovers from family get-togethers or food delivery apps, a few simple cooking skills can help teens stay nourished on their own.

These easy meals are simple and diverse enough to work for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By swapping a few ingredients or adding their own flourish, your teen can cook healthy meals that are far better than the typical college fare of ramen and frozen pizzas.

Pasta

Everyone needs to know how to boil pasta. Once they have this skill down, the possibilities are endless. The sauce is what really makes the dish. From spaghetti and meatballs to homemade pasta salad as a side dish, your teen will be able to keep themselves full without burning down the kitchen.

Start by allowing your teen to observe how you cook pasta while they prepare a simple side dish like a salad or garlic bread. Then, allow them to begin making one or two dinners each week. This helps foster responsibility while gradually familiarizing them with the kitchen and all its various tools and utensils. As they get more comfortable, they can learn more difficult sauces for the pasta.

Soup

Soup is another go-to that anyone can make with a few simple ingredients. The best part is that soup can be made in bulk and frozen for later as well, saving time and money when your teen is a busy college student. Soups are also easy to transport in a thermos, so your child can keep themselves warm and cozy on the go.

Some of the easiest soup recipes to start teaching your teen are chicken noodle soup, potato soup, and vegetable soup. Each of these will get your teens familiar with peeling, slicing, and chopping vegetables. Because soups are also easily customizable, they’ll also teach your teens to balance flavors and spices as they cook.

If your teen is interested in baking, rolls and simple breads like kaiser buns make great sides for soups. While baking can be a little bit trickier than cooking, it’s always a good thing to learn and an easy way for them to impress friends and extended family.

Eggs

Eggs can be used in a variety of meals throughout the day. Your teen can enjoy them scrambled on top of toast with a side of bacon, as egg salad on a sandwich, or fried into a breakfast omelet. There are literally dozens of ways to cook an egg, and your teen can learn a lot about cooking from this one simple ingredient.

For the simplest dish, crack and whisk two eggs into a bowl and add a spoonful of cottage cheese. Cook them on medium heat until they’re fluffy. Throw some peppers, potatoes and sausage into the mix and you have a delicious scramble that can be enjoyed in the morning or evening.

Roasted Vegetables and Baked Chicken

After your teen masters the basics of cleaning, cutting, and seasoning vegetables and chicken, they’ll be prepared to create a variety of seasonal dishes. Adding fresh herbs into the mix will instantly transform their recipes into something versatile and delectable every time they turn on the oven. Chicken is packed with protein, and baking it spares your teen time and mess. They can use leftovers to make a yummy wrap or enjoy the chicken in a salad the next day.

Experiment with new dishes and learn alongside your teen. As they prepare to enter adulthood, you can give them many wonderful memories as you navigate the culinary landscape together. You may even want to design your own recipe cards of their favorite dishes so they can always have them on-hand once they’re cooking solo.

By Anita Ginsburg

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing.

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