View Full Version : Ever had a kids who just flat out refused to learn anything of use in the kitchen?

02-04-2014, 05:53 PM
Stepson refuses to learn anything beyond boiling water to make tea, frustrating I learned to cook at a very young age and have practiced my whole life. I enjoy cooking but the boy who is 18 now is getting ready to go out into the world completely unprepared for life other than ordering from the drive thru

02-04-2014, 05:55 PM
Its raining outside today so I was "grilling" bratwurst in a frying pan on the stove and he came up and said I didnt know you could grill on the stove

02-04-2014, 06:50 PM
Ooh, that's hard. Cooking is such an important skill. :(

Just a couple days ago, DS informed me that I'll need to teach him to iron (I was grumbling about having to do it, my least favorite housewifely chore). I assured him I would when he's bit older, and that led into a discussion about Important Things To Know How To Do Before Leaving Home. How to grocery shop, make a grocery list (thinking ahead), vacuum, make a bed...and cook. I pointed out that a boy who can cook will impress the girls (or boys, as I always add), but when that got nothing, I did say its a great way to make friends. That definitely got his interest. I pointed out that young people--especially college students--are always hungry, and if he can feed them good food, he's certain to make friends! He could definitely see the wisdom in that! :) But thankfully he already likes to cook and is interested in doing more in the kitchen.

Hopefully you can find something that will help motivate your son!

02-04-2014, 07:10 PM
When my brothers hit 15/16, my mom cut them off. If it wasn't family dinner time, she made them fix their own meals or they had to go without. The younger of the two (an Eagle scout, FWIW) opted to learn to cook meats, rice, soups, and even bake his favorite cookie (snickerdoodle). The elder brother chose to either pay his younger sib to cook enough for the two of them, or he went up the road to the diner and bought something there. He's 54yo now and he still buys EVERY meal. He never married. To make things worse, he refuses to wash dishes. When he lived next door to us, mom had to go clean up the house after he moved out, and she hauled me along with her. Oy. The kitchen was a nightmare. In a nutshell, if he used a dish, it went in the sink and stayed there. For years. There were at least 4 different sets of dishes in that sink. The smell was stomach-churning. I won't bother telling you about the bathroom and the chest freezer in the garage that had been full, but the power had been off for almost TWO MONTHS. I can still smell it, and it's been 27 years since that day.

The point of this: if he doesn't want to learn, you can't force it. All you can do at this point is provide cautionary tales. And you can leave him with a standing offer to teach him if he ever changes his mind...even after he's moved out.

02-04-2014, 08:50 PM
Ahhhh yes. My ds is 18 and up until the last few months would literally cry when I told him he needed to make it himself. I remember when he was 11 I was trying to teach him how to make a grilled cheese sandwhich and it was a full on tears and crying...from him. When he was 5 I tried to teach him how to make toast, as I had tried for several months...he got the phone and called grandma on me. GRRRR! Even just making a PBJ! TEARS! He wouldn't eat a home cooked meal to save his life. It was full on tears and hyper ventilating up until a few months ago. And I like to cook and bake. I love raw recipes more. Hubby does the grilling. Then out of the blue a few months ago, he was asking how to grill everything. Then how to make rice, noodles, enchiladas, eggs, tacos...whatever. I finally asked him why he all of a sudden wanted to know how to cook. He says " I want to be a better man." :confused: huh? Cooking doesn't necessarily make you a better man, it makes you a healthier man. But I went with it and didn't complain.

02-04-2014, 09:15 PM
This probably won't help, but my kids picked up a lot of kitchen skills over the past year when I was simply unavailable. My mom was in the hospital for a long time and I just wasn't home. With only a little prompting and phone support, they became adept at sandwiches, grilled cheese, hashbrowns & eggs, spaghetti noodles, rice, tacos (basically brown meat & add spices), mac & cheese, etc.... It's not the most interesting food in the world, but they didn't starve. They were 13 & 10. Mind you, kids are less likely to whine and fuss when they know that someone is in the hospital and it is VERY SERIOUS for them to be VERY GROWN-UP.

They still get their own breakfasts & lunches, and I usually insist that one of them be present as my "kitchen helper" for dinner every night. They pick up a lot that way, but I don't think it would fly with an 18yo.

02-04-2014, 09:47 PM
I didn't learn how to cook until I lived with my hubby. He grew up with parents who both cooked. I was the last of my mom's kids - just her and I from the time I was 9. She was done with full meals. When I first lived on my own I could ruin spaghetti. And I never heard of marinating or knew you could use spices. I lived off drive thru's and take out and microwave dinners....and some fruit and popcorn when I ate at my own apartment by myself...I'm now passing on recipes to my sis and have turned my dad on to marinating. I love cooking now and turn my nose up at over priced restaurant meals we can make better at home. Recently while visiting my mom I told her that every grilled cheese I could remember she'd made me was burnt on the outside and not melted on the inside (she had just served me up one while I was helping her re-paint her bedroom). I asked if she heard of the "low" setting....It was actually a funny moment...Your son will learn to cook when he wants to eat well....or not. :) Probably won't starve though.

02-04-2014, 10:38 PM
With my kid having food allergies and sensitivities, he has learned how to eat for that, how to read labels for that, and now (he's 10) he's learning to cook. Right now he's basically warming stuff up, and seasoning it. I started when he was 2. When I would cook, he'd sit in his booster seat at the table with a bit of flour and water in a bowl. We've made gingerbread cookies from scratch every year around the holidays. I take him to the store to pick out fruit and veggies. We talk about the science of cooking/baking. We have to make our own bread (we do use a bread machine) but he learned about the science of that. We make broths, and ice cream, and almond milk and we've made all kinds of stuff he likes to eat such as hummus and salsa. He thinks the kitchen is fun. We put on music and I let him push buttons on the appliances. He also always liked to splash in the soapy water to wash dishes. I will continue to push this with him, so he can stay healthy as an adult, because he cannot eat fast food.

There is always hope! My niece never learned to cook. I'm not sure she could boil water. She got married and became a military wife to a hungry soldier with an Italian-American background. She got busy learning to cook (ah....what we do for love!) She spent her DH's deployment taking online culinary classes and studying cookbooks and cooking for friends and family. She's rockin' the kitchen now! Auntie is SO proud.

02-05-2014, 12:42 AM
I want a bread machine. I am tired of kneading and resting and kneading and resting. Had the experience. Ready to skip to the machine!

02-05-2014, 10:25 AM
I didn't learn how to cook when I was a kid. At all. And then I got married 2 months out of high school. DH knew a little bit about cooking, and I knew how to burn water (seriously... the extent of my cooking lessons as a kid were licking the beaters and burning the hell out of rice more times than I can count), and that was it. We muddled along - and this was before YouTube, mind you - and now I like to think I'm an excellent cook. I've been told I am, anyway. Don't worry. :) Well, okay, as a parent of COURSE you're going to worry, but I don't think he'll starve. He'll more than likely figure out enough to make the basics when he needs them, and like others have said, keep the offer open, just in case.

02-05-2014, 11:23 AM
I had a friend in grad school whose apartment-mate tried making soup (from a can). He'd been raised in a very wealthy household where no one but the cook cooked. He put the can in a pan of water and heated it until it exploded all over the kitchen. With luck, just having seen you in the kitchen will help stepson not be that bad. :)

When I got engaged to DH, all his colleagues told me how lucky I was, because he's such a good cook. Uh-huh. So how come now, 13 years later, whenever Daddy makes dinner it includes a phone call to Domino's or a sub sandwich from the supermarket??

02-05-2014, 11:53 AM
Haha i still remember one girl in college inviting me and my boyfriend over to dinner at her place. It was us and her best friend, I think. She boiled spaghetti (which clumped badly), served it with canned sauce and a store-bought heat-and-serve garlic bread. She was very nervous and her girl-friend was all "you're so brave, I couldnt do this!"

Just not uncommon. And really, not worth adding more tension to a step-parent relationship over.

Crabby Lioness
02-05-2014, 12:22 PM
He says " I want to be a better man." :confused: huh? Cooking doesn't necessarily make you a better man, it makes you a healthier man.

I can't speak for your son, but learning to cook made me a calmer, more self-confident person, so yeah a better person. I didn't learn to cook until I was grown. I just blogged about it: Comfort Food (http://lionesshomeschool.blogspot.com/2014/01/comfort-foodjavascript.html)

02-05-2014, 12:42 PM
Also - maybe just let him know that if he decides he wants to learn how, even after he's moved out, you will still be willing to teach him.

02-05-2014, 08:40 PM
I love the cooking disaster stories! My mom tells the story of moving into her first apartment and inviting her parents over for dinner. She was so proud that she made MEATLOAF for dinner. Apparently, that's all she made. She forgot to make potatoes, vegetables, or anything else whatsoever. They all enjoyed their meatloaf, and she still laughs about it.

02-05-2014, 09:16 PM
When I was 20 or so, I could cook, but the apartment I was in had such a rotten little stove/oven that I remember trying to bake cupcakes and when I went to check them the batter had BOILED over! I thought I forgot an ingredient, so I let the oven cool, cleaned it out, and remade the batter. When it happened again, I decided to check the oven's accuracy. Turns out setting the oven at 350 actually set it at 550! I don't know what would have happened had I tried to broil anything!

Avalon, it took me years to get DH to remember or comprehend that when I was out and he had to get dinner for the kid, an acceptable dinner was not "a pork chop".

02-05-2014, 11:02 PM
Your stepson might enjoy cooking once he gets out of the house.

My father was an amazing cook; he loved to meal plan, shop and cook. However, he did not learn as a child at home. He did not get married until he was 35 and he loved good food. So he learned how to make it himself.

My brother did the same (but he married right out of college, his wife doesn't like cooking). My dad didn't like people in the kitchen when he worked so we rarely cooked growing up. But we did appreciate great food and the desire and skill rubbed off on my brother. Not so much on me...I'd rather eat than cook :(

02-06-2014, 11:20 AM
Hmmm. Meatloaf. So, sometimes there's chopped celery and onions in that, and ketchup on top: vegetables. If you bind it with bread crumbs, there's your starch. Idk, sounds complete to me. :)

My mom's first Thanksgiving as a married woman (at 20 yrs old), she hosted the meal in their closet of an apartment and forgot to take the bag of giblets out of the bird. She's still not lived it down, and there aren't that many people left who were there!

When I was just going off to college, somebody got me "The Starving Student's Cookbook" (I think that was the title) - it was a slim little paperback, with really simple recipes - some weren't much more than techniques really, like how to hard boil an egg, but it was useful.

02-06-2014, 02:52 PM
Might it be that he is refusing to learn to cook from you or your spouse? I can't stand to cook with other people in the kitchen, including my mother.
It might be that he would do much better with a laptop propped up out of harm's way, or at least a different adult (is there a cooking grandparent nearby?). People are usually most interested in learning to cook what they like best to eat, especially if it's not that complicated.

02-06-2014, 03:01 PM
Love the stories. I have a friend who is a very successful doctor. But I think her parents did no instruction on cooking or even food prep. So in our 30's our group of friends throws a baby shower for another friend. We all discuss what to bring for food, our doctor friend said she would bring chips and soda. I had to laugh because that is what you would bring in college to a party. We had to talk her through what to bring and she finally remembered one dish she knew how to make and it was actually very good. But just goes to show that life skills need attention when raising kids as do the academics.

Crabby Lioness
02-06-2014, 06:17 PM
Psst. Listen closely. If your kidlet has a Nintendo DS or 3DS you can get them an America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking cartridge. I won't say "game" because it's an interactive cookbook not a game. But it has all the quality of any ATK video. But because it was sold as a "game" and gamers couldn't figure out how to shoot anybody with it, it sells for dirt cheap at Gamestop. I'm talking 99 cents new, 79 cents used (http://www.gamestop.com/browse?nav=16k-3-America+s+Test+Kitchen,28zu0) for an ATK product! That might snazz up cooking lessons for the youngsters.

02-06-2014, 06:24 PM
Around here, NOBODY brings home-cooked food to potlucks, i swear. Everyone brings something from the local supermarket chain

ok, slight exaggeration.

02-06-2014, 07:02 PM
Around here, NOBODY brings home-cooked food to potlucks, i swear. Everyone brings something from the local supermarket chain

ok, slight exaggeration.

Oh yeah. Our friend had trouble even thinking of that.

Crabby Lioness
02-06-2014, 08:32 PM
Around here, NOBODY brings home-cooked food to potlucks, i swear. Everyone brings something from the local supermarket chain

ok, slight exaggeration.

I've been to potlucks like that. The whole family came down with severe food poisoning -- twice.

We got real picky about potlucks after that.

02-06-2014, 09:47 PM
We don't have that game, but we are big fans of America's Test Kitchen here. We don't have a system to use that game, but even the show is interesting because it's sort of science-y. We did this because it created that, and then our taste testers like it more. The magazine is nice, as well. Great resource.

07-30-2014, 03:39 PM
ya my sister.....lol

07-30-2014, 03:58 PM
I love ATK too! But I don't have a system to run the game. I am a SAHM and a very good cook (used to work in a commercial kitchen), but I have many friends who are like the doctor mentioned above. THey are easy to impress with anything homemade, and I'm always telling them "you can do it too, just use ATK." I've seriously never had one of their recipes fail - it may not become a standby, but I never wind up with a mess.

I have 2 separate social groups - in one, everything is from a package. In the other, you'd be embarrassed if your dish was even made from a box - people trade recipes and everyhting is from scratch.

07-30-2014, 04:09 PM
Redww6 just revitalised this hilarious thread I hadn't read before. Oh, such stories.

My sister, who is three years older than I am, invited some friends over for dinner one weekend. She was probably around 21/22, making me around 18/19. She only liked to cook 'gourmet' meals, so never cooked any family dinners at all - she thought it was beneath her. That's fine, but I remember our mother grumbling that my sister would never learn to cook for her own family in time.

I can't remember what the savoury part of the meal was, but the dessert was profiteroles. She'd not made them before and didn't really have a lot of patience with things that were overly-fiddly. So when they came out of the oven all hard as a rock, she blew her stack, grabbed her car keys, and stormed out of the house. Her guests were due in an hour and we had no idea when she'd be back. So I ended up making a chocolate-chip dessert cake, which is meant to be eaten while still hot. Apricots are involved...very yum. I lost the recipe, dammit.

I digress.

She came back about 10 minutes before her guests were due, and she just went straight to her room to change, reminded me I was to make myself scarce apart from acting as waiter and cleaning, reminded mum she was still dinner matriarch but not the host, and things went ahead as per her plan. Her guests liked the dessert, my sister was furious I'd made a replacement.

To this day, as far as I know, she and her DH eat out most of the time, and they hold gourmet dinner parties often. However, they pay someone to come in and cook and serve LOL. In their $80,000 kitchen...


07-30-2014, 04:14 PM
Regarding teens being ready to go out into the world and fend for themselves...I can't wait to be back in a house that is MINE. I will be able to re-teach DS some cooking skills. Here, in my in-laws' house, I do the majority of the cooking, but DH and his father do not cook at all. Each for different reasons - FIL doesn't do ANYTHING around the house and DH has no patience for eating, let alone cooking - so DS is getting all the messages I don't want him to get. OTOH - he hates the constant smell of cat pee in the kitchen, which is right next to the front living room, the latter being the room where most of the litter-boxes are for 19 cats, and the cats pee all over the kitchen benches and I am constantly having to sterilise everything. UGH.

07-30-2014, 05:12 PM
I did not learn how to cook regular meals until I was 33. I assembled ingredients here and there (you couldn't really call it cooking), and made scrambles, sandwiches, and salads occassionally. It was not until I met my ex that I gave an eff about anything in the kitchen. The internet taught me how to cook. More specifically, FlyLady taught me how to make more dishes, most of them involving the crockpot. My current partner likes to cook, and I like to clean so it works out. I wish I'd learned to plan and make meals on a more regular basis when I was younger. It would have helped me feel more independent and self-sufficient. I hope your son can find a website or game that will make cooking fun! :)