Here’s What Changes in the Kitchen When You Have Teens

updated Sep 30, 2020
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One day you will look up and your little kid will have turned into a tall (sometimes grumpy, possibly a little hairy), seemingly constantly hungry person. The juice boxes and squeeze-y yogurts of yesterday will no longer be a satisfying snack, and a recipe marked “Serves 4” won’t actually be enough to serve your family of four.

Here’s what changes in your kitchen — and your routine — when you have a teenager (or a few!).

1. You will get real good at cooking in bulk.

No matter what you’re making, you will know to make more than you think you need. (Goodbye, little pots!) For starters, your teen is gonna want seconds (maybe even thirds) in one sitting. And then there’s the snacking.

2. More often than not, leftovers won’t make it through the night.

I’ve had many a time where a kid has wandered into the kitchen a few hours after dinner, wondering if there’s any more of that mac and cheese/stir-fry/etc. Any grand plans you have to pack leftovers for your lunch or serve them again later in the week will almost always be ruined.

3. The freezer and microwave will get a lot more use.

You’ll try to freeze extras of, say, a double batch of chili. It might work and it might not (see above). But one thing is for certain: Your teen will get real good at microwaving stuff.

4. You’ll have a stock pile of snacks to feed an army of hungry teens.

You are not just shopping for snacks for your teen — you will be shopping for your teen and three of his friends. Because you never know when he’ll walk through the door with a study group. Find a comfortable balance between the snacks your teen wants, and the snacks you really want your teen to eat.

5. You will probably join a warehouse club.

If you haven’t already signed up for a membership to Costco, Sam’s, or BJ’s, you will seriously consider it in order to stock up on said snacks.

6. Some of your dishes are going to go missing.

Even if you have a strict no-food-in-the-bedroom rule, dishes (or, at the very least, water glasses) are going to end up there — and throughout the rest of the house. If your cabinets are empty, your teen might know what happened.

7. You’ll be prepared for vegetarianism to strike at any minute.

While people of all ages can decide to become vegetarian, it tends to happen most often in the teenage years. It might not last forever, or maybe it will, but you’ll need to figure out what dishes will make your vegetarian happy, and still provide the right nutrition. Take this as an opportunity to make some of your entire family’s meals vegetarian — Meatless Monday is never a bad idea, anyway.

8. You will never buy too much salsa or too many tortilla chips.

This is a fact I know to be true.

Have your very own teenager at home? How has your kitchen changed?