Kitchen independence

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2007
Kitchen independence
Sat, 06-09-2012 - 9:41pm

So, DD 13 has expressed an interest in learning to cook this summer, which is great news for me because I've wanted to teach her for a long time. I'm wondering, once she picks up some kitchen skills, how much should I expect her to be responsible for her own meals? When I was around her age, I pretty much fed myself - if I wanted grilled cheese or spaghetti or whatever, I just went and made it - but we had family issues and my parents weren't home a lot of the time, so I don't know if my experience applies here. I guess in my ideal scenario, I would continue to cook dinner every night, but DD would make her own breakfast and lunch and whatever snacks she wants. (Right now, the only things she does for herself are toast, cereal and Kraft EasyMac, and then only when I remind her that she's 13 years old and doesn't need me to operate the microwave for her.) What's it like at your house?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2006
Sun, 06-10-2012 - 12:54pm
My 15 yo son is a better cook than I am! He always has been. He took cooking as an elective this year too so he is great in the kitchen. I often have to tell him NOT to make his own meals because our food budget is limited and I have most of the food in the house accounted for. My 12 yo on the other hand, really would prefer to have nothing to do with the kitchen. She often does her own breakfast (cereal or frozen waffles usually) and can do her own lunch ( sandwiches, Mac n cheese, reheat something in the microwave) if
asked to. I would like to have her do her own more involved lunches this summer. There will be days when I'm not around at lunch time (I work part time) and she will need to fend for herself. They both know that a meal should include protein, carb, fruit/veggie and calcium but I do often have to remind them that they are missing a food group and supervise the addition to make sure it actually happens.

In terms of your daughter, I Iike your plan. In the beginning you might want to provide a little non-intrusive help by grouping lunch items together in the fridge and/ or pantry. That way she knows where to go and what her choices are. It
might be fun to, as Arryl suggested, do lunches together once in a while. It might be neat to pick a cookbook and cook your way through it together as a
summer project.

Have fun with this!
Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007
Sun, 06-10-2012 - 5:00pm

I do most of the cooking here.  My 12 year old enjoys cooking and has expressed an interest in learning to work the grill this summer. 

We typically eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together.  DH works from home so he often joins us for breakfast and lunch.  For the most part, we eat the same thing at meal time.  DS might be in the kitchen helping but I wouldn't tell him to make his own lunch.  I meal plan out all 3 meals for the week.  Snacks  are fruit so not much to do there.   

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Sun, 06-10-2012 - 8:48pm

We may be unusual because our kids say we are.  We ALWAYS eat dinner as a family - breakfast on weekends, too.  So if a kid knows how to cook, the benefit is that they can cook for the others when DH & I have date night, or they can cook for the whole family to learn new skills or show them off.  But it's not so that people can eat independently of each other.  Family dinner is a value of ours.

Our college student is learning to cook entire meals (healthy - not just grilled cheese or spaghetti, but meat, vegetables & starch), so DH has him cook meals for us once or twice a week.  This is so he gets used to the juggling of cooking complete meals so that when school starts again and he is in his own apartment, he will be able to handle it.

Your idea for what your 13yo should be able to do sounds right on target to me.  17yo DD cooks herself eggs for lunch or afterschool snack every day, and she & 12yo DS get themselves their breakfast and lunch every day before school, even though SAHD is up and available every morning to help in a pinch.  We try to balance independence and family time, and that seems to work for us.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2007
Sun, 06-10-2012 - 9:32pm

Thanks guys - some great insights here. Things are a little less formal at our house because it's just the two of us and has been for a long time (DD's dad died when she was seven), so on the weekends especially, we tend to be on a much looser meal schedule than a several-member family would. We almost always eat dinner together, but on those Saturdays when she gets up three hours later than I do and wants breakfast when I'm starting to think about lunch, it would be nice if she could make her own eggs. :catvery-happy: I'm trying to wean her off the habit of asking me to fetch all her drinks and snacks for her (seriously, kid, you can walk 10 feet to the kitchen and get a glass of water or a granola bar!) and this kind of seems to go along with that.