8 Ways to Teach Teens How to Feed Themselves in College
In just a few years of high school, teenagers go from being kids to young adults to college, getting jobs and living on their own. Taking advantage of the high school years to teach them basic kitchen skills and easy recipes can help prepare them for the future. By introducing a few key skills and recipes, they can make mom-favorites with limited dorm equipment (in between care packages of course!)
From skills for college dorm living that go beyond starving-student ramen to using slow cookers, you can help your teen discover ways to survive on their own. With dorm rooms restricting many heating devices, with the exception of microwaves, learning a base of recipes is a great option while they currently live at home. Try these recipes while your teen is still under your roof and enjoy a little break from meal prep as they learn.
Microwave Magic: Dorm-Friendly Dinners from the Microwave
Most dorm rooms or dorm kitchens allow a microwave and a mini fridge. When your teen is tired of frozen meals and canned soups, they can use their microwave to create new dinner options. Practice at home in high school with recipes like this Low-Fat Fire Roasted Tomato and Chicken Soup that looks fancy but can be prepared in 15 minutes, perfect for busy college students.
Microwaves can create sweet treats too; this Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake just requires pantry staples and takes less than 10 minutes to create a yummy individual chocolate cake.
Teens as Masters of the Basics
While grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking are important; teaching your teen the basics of working in a kitchen are also key. To help a teen chop their own vegetables, check out our tutorial on How To Master Basic Knife Skills. A big bag of flour or sugar can be overwhelming to new cooks, so teaching teens the simplicity of How to Measure Ingredients is another great skill to add to their kitchen toolbox.
A wonderful basic cooking technique to learn is the versatile Microwave Baked Potato which can be topped with a variety of ingredients and requires around 15 minutes.
Not Just Noodles: Elevating A Dorm Staple
The popularity of ramen noodles for cash-poor, hungry college students isn't a myth. Before your student heads off to the dorms, try introducing some alternatives to dry noodles and flavor packets at midnight.
Start with Dev's Dorm Room Casserole and Not-Your-Dorm-Room Cup of Noodles for ramen alternatives. After they've mastered beyond-ramen, try other protein-filled noodle options like Dorm Room Chili Mac and filling Dorm Room Cheesy Tuna and Noodles.
Need Bread? Easy No Knead Recipes
While sliced white bread from the grocery store is a staple for late-night PB&Js, consider teaching your college or job-bound teen about bread-making if they have access to an oven. Try from our long list of No Knead Bread Recipes that can be adapted for dorm room prep without kneading steps.
The handy dorm microwave can also be used in "baking "bread. From a Microwave English Muffin Bread to an easy Microwave Breakfast Ring that uses canned biscuit dough, students can get almost-Mom made bread ready in minutes.
Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
The classic grilled cheese is another dorm staple that can compliment microwave canned tomato soup, granted that your student has a hot plate or stovetop access. But a basic grilled cheese might get boring. Have your teen try different fillings and cheeses from bacon to gouda, pepperoni to swiss. An Italian Grilled Cheese is a fun option that adds seasoning to a favorite while this sweet version puts a twist on the familiar: Peanut Butter Cup Grilled Cheese.
Cooking it Low and Slow
A crock pot or slow cooker can be a college student's best friend. With many dorms only allowing appliances without a glowing element, a crockpot can be a great option for preparing a meal. While your student is still in high school, practicing with the slow cooker can also work out well; have them put ingredients in before they leave for school and dinner will be waiting when they get home.
Check out our Slow Cooker Recipes for great starting points. A Slow Cooker Chili is an excellent option that can be dinner one night and a nacho topper the next day. Slow Cooker Carnitas are also easy to meal prep and use for a variety of dishes, from soups to salads and tacos.
Instant Pot, Instant Meals
With the Instant Pot, busy college students can get meals prepped and done in a short space of time, just ensure that they're allowed in dorms beforehand. Check out these Instant Pot Recipes and try some out to find favorites before students head out to college. Instant Pot Salsa Chicken works well as a taco or burrito starter while Instant Pot Mexican Rice is a great side option.