Pre-teens and teens need to learn the ABCs of the stove top in their house works before they can start to use it. Pre-teens and teens are capable of cooking their own basic meals, and should at least know how to boil water.
When your pre-teen and teen is ready to learn about stove top cooking, take the time to show him or her exactly how to use the stove. Do not assume that it is easy, or intuitive, or that you should leave any detail out.
Pre-teens and teens may have watched you cook hundreds, maybe even thousands of meals, using the stove top. The funny thing is, they weren’t really paying attention.
If your teen or pre-teen has shown interest in learning how to use the stove top, or if you think it’s time they learn, here is a basic guide to everything you should cover.
This information applies basically to electric stove tops, as gas ranges have other issues, and may pose more dangers for younger cooks.
1. Read the Knobs
We’ve all turned on the wrong knob at least once, and you pre-teen may be no exception. Show the young cook each knob and how it is labeled with the location on the stove.
2. Use the Right Size Burner
One of the first mistakes young cooks in the kitchen make is to use the biggest burner available to them. Teach the pre-teen or teen to use the burner size that best fits the pan they are using to cook.
Explain that this is better energy conservation, and it is safer, as the hot burner will not be exposed, when it is covered by the right sized pan.
3. Use the Right Size Pan
Another early mistake young cooks make is using the wrong size pan. They do not need to use the largest cooking pot available to boil and egg or make macaroni and cheese.
4. Use the Right Type of Pan
Teach the new cook the difference between a frying pan, a wok (not the best choice for pre-teen cooks), and a standard cooking pot. Advise them which pans you usually use for different types of foods. “This is the one we use for a can of vegetables.”
5. Use a Cover
Teach the young cook that using a cover that fits on the pan will increase the initial cooking or boiling time of their food. It is also safer to cover food while cooking to avoid being splashed and burned. Using a cover on a pan also reduces the clean up.
6. Do not Store Cooking Boxes or Potholder on the Stove top
This refers back to number one. Because it is easy to turn on the wrong burner, advise the pre-teen or teen cook not to place anything on the stove top burner unless it is a pan. A box of pasta placed on an accidentally-turned-on burner can cause a mess and a fire.
7. Turn the Handle
One of the most basic and important cooking tips to give young cooks is to tell them that the pan handle should never be facing out. It should be turned to the side. This is for safety reasons.
8. Use the Right Temperature
Pre-teens and teens are a bit impatient when it comes to cooking. They tend to want to cook everything on high or medium high. Explain that the only time high should be used on the stove top is when you are boiling water.
9. Timing the Food
Show teens and pre-teens how to use the stove top timer, or use a stand alone timer for foods that have specific cooking times.
10. Use Pot Holders
Provide easily accessible pot holders and mitts and encourage pre-teens and teens to use them when cooking.
11. Turn off the Stove Top Burners
Remind young cooks to check the knobs after they are done cooking, to verify they are all turned to “off.”
By explaining stove top cooking basics to your pre-teens and teens, everyone can feel better about them using the stove.