Learn to Cook! The Importance of Kitchen Skills


Photo courtesy of Marguerite Marley

Marguerite Marley, Reporter

Cooking and baking skills have been essential to keeping people alive from the beginning of time. However, these are things many teens today don’t know how to do. Most meals for young people come from either a bag or their parents, but that model is not sustainable long-term. Eventually, teens will have to learn their way around a kitchen.

Senior Booker Wegner addressed this topic.

“You cannot subsist off of instant ramen. Learn to bake or cook so you don’t spend egregious amounts of money on takeout every night. It’s financially unsustainable to eat out. Learn to cook,” they said.

Unfortunately, since most high schools do not offer Home Economics anymore, it has fallen on teens to teach themselves how to cook.

While many colleges and universities are now including kitchens in their dorm rooms, it’s even more important to learn early on in order to understand meal prep, healthy eating, and necessary ingredients for cooking.

Cooking and baking also force people to pay attention to specific and small details. This is especially true with baking, where exact measurements can make or break a recipe. You can’t be sloppy when dessert is on the line. 

On top of being more financially responsible, cooking for yourself is also healthier. The average homemade breakfast sandwich is 15 calories less than a McDonald’s sandwich. This might not seem like much but those 15 calories add up over time.

Cooking can also get teens off of their screens, allowing them to engage with the tactile world. Kneading bread can be a very spiritual experience after a long day of dealing with high school drama, and probably one of the healthiest stress outlets out there.

Recently, my mom started a new job in San Francisco, which meant she wouldn’t be able to be the primary cook in our household. My dad works a tech job that requires him to be at his computer anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day. That put the responsibility on me to handle dinner. So I had to learn how to make more than just microwavable popcorn and toast.

Like most people during quarantine, bored from hours of Zoom classes, I looked up a recipe online. King Arthur Flour has a lot of good bread recipes on its website. Eventually, I graduated to simpler “Mom and Pop” style blogs, and although these have far too many ads for my taste, they’re better if you want to try and make a harder dessert, such as Cheesecake or Cinnamon Rolls.

After a few tries, I made my first loaf of bread, and it was pretty good. It was so rewarding to be able to tangibly feel something I had made. It wasn’t great but I tried a couple more times and now, a full year later, I’ve nearly mastered white bread. 

Nowadays, I keep most baking staples such as flour, sugar, vanilla extract, and instant yeast on hand just in case I’m having a bad day and need to cheer myself up. This has proven to be a great tool for mental health.

It’s also important to learn how to budget when cooking, you’ll need to find the best mid-price-range ingredients, as the cheap ones won’t taste so good. Those mid-range options are your best friend, and most grocery stores have club cards that will give you discounts. 

If you’re looking for a quick and delicious quick meal, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese can be a great entry-level option. My mom’s favorite recipe is a scrambled egg with a side of white rice (also really easy as long as you remember to add seasoning to the eggs BEFORE cooking).  Pasta with meat sauce is also worth every second you put into it.

Cooking and baking are not simply utilitarian skills but mental wellness ones as well.