Instead of acting as the house chef -- or, more likely, short order cook -- teach your teen how to cook and have her help in the kitchen. Whether your young teen shows an interest in the culinary arts or you feel that it's key for her to have the ability to cook for herself, teaching her how to prepare meals is an easy way to encourage her to participate in a family activity and help with household chores. Using a fun-filled game type of approach can turn this task from onerous to awesome in the eyes of your young teen.
Play a blindfolded meal choosing game. Pick five or more different meals or recipes that are at a beginner's level, such as spaghetti with a meat sauce or a chef's salad. Write each meal idea on a piece of paper and place them in a paper bag. Blindfold your teen and have her pick out one meal. Open your child's choice and have her open her eyes to reveal what she will learn how to cook.
Open a cookbook or print out a recipe for your chosen meal from an online source. Instruct your teen to read the recipe completely. Play a memory game after your teen finishes reading the entire recipe. Write down the key ingredients on index cards. Put the cookbook or recipe away, out of your child's view. Invite your teen to take the cards and arrange them in the order that she will use them while cooking to see if she truly understood or remembers what the recipe read.
Get cooking. Pouring and portioning out ingredients may quickly bore your antsy young teen. Avoid allowing her to give up, or having you step in and finish the meal, by turning the actual cooking portion into am entertaining game activity. Let your teen get competitive and stage a mock cooking show contest where each of you prepare a meal and then judge which one is best. Although you don't want to destroy your teen's confidence, it's key for you to point out major follies such as under-cooking meat, overcooking pasta or adding too much salt. As long as your young teen's meal is safely prepared and edible, tell her that she wins the game. This will encourage her to continue practicing her cooking techniques.
Swap out some of the ingredients. Teach your teen that cooking isn't always 100 percent by the book. Provide your child with meal alternatives to teach her about variations. For example, try spaghetti squash instead of actual pasta spaghetti or give her different spices from which to choose. Turn your teen's experimentation into a game by allowing her to switch up the ingredients and try a taste test to see how edible it actually is.