Raising good cooks: part one

When it comes to preparing your children (daughters and sons) for adulthood, kitchen skills can be a little overwhelming. All that goes into keeping a good kitchen is daunting, especially if you are a perfectionist or feel you lack skills in this area. Pick recipes from a favorite cookbook or family album and get to practicing.

Part one in this series is a list of recipes. A good cook does not need a hundred recipes. Ten simple recipes are all you need to master. This will give your child a wide variety of menus that will serve them well. Once you master each of these recipes you are able to improvise and create an almost endless menu. And they are all easy to double or triple for crowd pleasing meals too. When you are able to cook for yourself, it opens up a whole new world. You can control what goes into your food, what you eat and how you can entertain.

  • Pancakes. Making good pancakes takes skill, and making the batter from scratch is helpful. Adding a couple of Tbsp of oil transforms it into waffle mix. You can shake things up by adding fruit or other toppings and pancakes are a winner for breakfast or dinner.
  • Soup. Knowing how to make a basic soup is essential. Whatever soup your family loves most, learning a basic soup is important. Once you do, you can vary the ingredients to make an infinite variety for any season of the year. (And your college student will never have to settle for instant ramen or canned soup!)
  • Basic spaghetti sauce. This is the basis for almost any variety of Italian dish. A good tomato based spaghetti sauce can feed an army of friends and family and it’s an inexpensive way to impress someone you love. Ladle it over pasta or veggies for a winner every time.
  • Casserole. Casseroles are another dish that you can change up a million ways. Once you understand the basics you can add any number of ingredients and always get it right.
  • Baked bird (for meat eaters). Another simple skill that will take you far in the kitchen. Start with a chicken. And when you are feeling ambitious, try your hand at making gravy with no lumps!
  • Cookies. Knowing how to bake cookies is essential. They are great gifts and snacks. They are easy to make and fun to serve.
  • Cake. There is really no substitute to homemade cake (except maybe angel food!). Basic cakes are not difficult and the results are tasty. And a college kid or newlywed can afford to make a cake a lot easier than buy one.
  • Chili. Another dinnertime staple. Vegetarian or meaty, leftovers are great too. Good chili will keep people coming around.
  • White sauce. This is a foundation for many things like casseroles, mac and cheese and some soups.
  • Bread. Again, this is a money saver. Making your own rolls and bread is all natural and you can’t beat the smell of fresh baked bread. There are tons of recipes out there to experiment with to find one that is easy and mistake-proof (most of the time). Cornbread, quick bread, yeast bread, pick something and work on it.

These ten basic recipes are things your kids can work on from upper elementary age so that by the time they leave your home they are armed with simple but tasty recipes that will save money and keep them–and their friends–happy for years. Of course, there may be things that your family loves that you wish to substitute. Optional extras to learn: pie crust, eggs of all kinds.

Next time: 10 basic kitchen skills to master