What Do Kids Need to Know in the Kitchen Before They Leave Home? Here’s My List. What’s on Yours?

updated Sep 30, 2020
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What do kids need to know to survive — thrive, even — in the kitchen once they leave home for kitchens of their own? Whether a shared kitchen in the dorm or a small galley in their first apartment, kids need to know how to do things right. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making sure each of my children had a signature dish. The Kitchn readers got me started on a list: What I Have to Teach My Kids in the Kitchen.

I’m starting with hard boiled eggs. That’s pretty basic, but you have to know what you’re doing, because you can’t check for doneness half way through.

I’ll teach them the Kitchn’s method, but I have an easier way when you just need one hard-boiled egg. In college, a friend taught me to cover one egg with water in a pot, turn the heat up high and set the kitchen timer for fifteen minutes. This method is nice, because you don’t have to wait for the water to boil. (At least one of my children would forget about the pot on the stove until it boiled over, and the raw egg would still be in the fridge.) For extra credit, I’ll teach them how to make egg salad and deviled eggs, two useful and easy dishes for any occasion.

What I Need to Teach My Kids About Cooking

So far, these are the other things I have on my list to teach them:

  • Knife skills
  • Grocery shopping. They may already know, but I want to actually tell them how to shop for several meals at a time, how to get the best deals and what things are essential in the pantry.
  • How to roast a chicken. This lesson will include instructions as to what to do with the leftovers. They don’t actually know this, because we never have leftovers, but when they live alone, they might! I’ll show them how to make a basic chicken salad, casserole, stock and chicken soup.
  • How to make mac and cheese from scratch.
  • How to make a full breakfast, including cheese grits.
  • How to make spaghetti marinara.
  • How to improvise a basic pasta dish that isn’t spaghetti marinara.
  • How to roast vegetables. This is their favorite way to eat them, so it seems like a good idea!
  • How to make a blended, cold drink, like a smoothie or a milkshake. I fully intend to provide a blender for each child’s kitchen. Yes, I realize they’ll figure out how to use it for frozen margaritas eventually, but that’s something everyone should learn on their own.
  • How to improvise a soup.
  • How to photograph their culinary creations. Just kidding.
  • How to make pimiento cheese, in case they find themselves very far from home.
  • How to cook bacon, on the stove and in the oven.
  • What to do in case of various kitchen fires. Thankfully, this is one I haven’t had to demonstrate, but they need to know!
  • How to improvise a casserole.
  • How to make lemonade from scratch.
  • How to make their favorite dishes from home.

I don’t plan to teach them all my secrets, because I want them to call me! And I realize they’ll have endless online help. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’ll have The Kitchn bookmarked, but I want them to enjoy cooking and do it with ease. Also? I don’t want to have to pay for a new cell phone after it gets dropped into a pot of spaghetti.

Am I missing anything? What do you think everyone needs to know how to do in the kitchen once they’ve left the nest?