Teen Years

The masterlist of easy meals to teach your teen for their college days

When our teens start talking about going to college, at first, it’s all really exciting. What courses they’ll do, where they’ll live, the experiences they’ll have and the people they’ll meet. This first major step towards independence has us simultaneously proud and teary.

But when we begin to think of them day to day on their own living independently, the reality starts to come crashing down. Do they know what setting to put the washing machine on for delicates? Are they able to work out the fuse box if their apartment is suddenly and inexplicably plunged into darkness? And what on earth are they going to eat?

Woman in Black and White Striped Shirt Eating Food from Pot

While most life skills come with experience, cooking is one craft that you must actively practice to learn and get good at. The thought of our teens going off to college and surviving on takeaway and toasted sandwiches is more than a little worrying and had us thinking about how to arm them culinary knowledge before they go off to live their lives.

We know it seems a little while away, but before you know it, summer and exams will e over and they’ll be packing up and moving out! So we’ve compiled a few of the simplest, most basic recipes to start them off on their independent living journey. Covering the staples with a good variety of dishes means that they’ll have this food in their arsenal when they’re craving some proper home-cooked food and a little comfort.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Delicious yummy spaghetti pasta with Bolognese sauce garnished with parsley and served on table in light kitchen

Ah the old classic. We all learned this in home economics right? But a quick refresher never hurts!

You’ll need…

  • 450g lean ground beef
  • 30g fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2tsp oregano
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 20g tomato paste
  • 450g wholegrain spaghetti
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 200ml red wine

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add chopped onion and garlic into the pan.

Sautee for 5-6 minutes before adding in the tomato paste and then the ground beef.

Stir and cook through.

Boil water in a saucepan and add some salt. When the water is boiling, add in your pasta and cook it through before straining and setting aside.

Next, add oregano, chopped fresh basil and stir it in.

Next, add in your canned chopped tomatoes and stir into the ground beef. Season with salt.

Serve the tomato-beef sauce over the pasta and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil if you’re feeling fancy!


egg omelet dish

A lunchtime or quick dinner staple, the humble omelette is versatile, easy to make and a great way to pack a few more veggies into your diet.

You’ll need…

  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 strips serrano ham
  • 3-4 mushrooms
  • 1 handful spinach
  • ½ shallot
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 30g cheddar cheese
  • 1tsp olive oil

Chop your shallot, garlic clove, mushrooms and spinach into small pieces.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Sautee your shallot and garlic clove for 3-4 minutes, before adding in your mushrooms and cooking them through.

Season with salt and pepper.

In a cup, crack both eggs and whisk together with a fork.

Pour the whisked eggs into the pan over your shallot, garlic and mushrooms, ensuring it reaches the edges of the pan.

Slice serrano ham into small pieces before scattering on top of the egg mixture, along with chopped spinach and cheddar cheese.

Fold the omelette in the pan until it forms a roll and is cooked through.

Beef broccoli stir fry

Green Vegetable on White Ceramic Plate

You'll need…

  • 400g flank steak
  • 400g broccoli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 50ml soy sauce
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 100ml water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g rice

Add cornstarch, 50ml of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and chopped garlic clove into a small bowl and use a fork to mix them together well.

Chop your broccoli florets into small sections and set aside.

Cut your flank steak into thin strips and season with salt and pepper, rubbing them into both sides.

Heat olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add in your broccoli and then pour in the remainder of your water, covering the pan over with a lid to steam the broccoli for 7-8 minutes or until broccoli has softened.

Remove broccoli from the pan and add your remaining olive oil before adding in your steak strips. Stir to cook through on both sides.

Next, pour in the contents of your bowl that formed the base for your sauce and allow it to simmer in the pan for 1-2 minutes and then add in the cooked broccoli.

Make sure everything is coated with the sauce before serving over white rice and topping with sesame seeds. Voila! An easy, tasty dinner.

Pasta bake

Cooked Pasta on Brown Wooden Bowl

This is a great one for meal planning or for sharing meals with house mates if they take turns with the cooking. Easy to make and lots of servings, this one will see them through the early college days!

You'll need…

  • 500g chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2tsp red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 400g penne pasta
  • 1tsp oregano
  • 1tsp parsley
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  •  1tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 400g mozzarella cheese
  • 200g parmesan
  • 300g ricotta cheese

Turn your oven on to 200C.

Boil a saucepan of water and add a little salt. When it boils, add in your penne pasta and boil until cooked. Strain and set aside.

Chop your chicken breast into small pieces.

Heat olive oil in pan over a medium heat. Add in your chicken and cook through.

Season with oregano, salt and pepper, parsley and chili flakes, before adding your marinara sauce.

In a deep baking tray, empty the contents of your pan. Top with cooked penne.

Next, add in your ricotta and chopped fresh basil, stirring it into the tomato-chicken-pasta sauce until it’s creamy and coated.

Layer lots of mozzarella and parmesan on top and cover with a layer of tinfoil.

Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes and then remove the tinfoil layer, cooking it for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with more chopped basil and serve!

Baked salmon

gray knife and orange flesh meat on wooden chopping board

This might not be one that they particularly want to make, but it’s definitely one they should have in their arsenal. Fish is an important source of omega three and it essential in our diets.

  • 1-2 salmon fillets
  • 1tbsp coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 50ml lime juice
  • 200g white rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1tsp chili flakes
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 avocado

Heat your oven to 200C.

On a flat baking tray, lay out a strip of tinfoil.

Lay your salmon fillet out on it and pour olive oil and half your lime juice over your fillet.

Season with salt and pepper, chili flakes and coriander.

Chop garlic cloves and scatter them over the fillet too.

Fold the tinfoil around the fish and place it in the oven to cook for 15-20 minutes, peeling back the foil for the last five minutes.

Meanwhile, boil water in a saucepan and cook the rice. Once cooked through, strain and season it with salt, coriander and the remains of your lime juice.

Slice the avocado into sections and serve with your salmon on a bed of coriander-lime rice.

Chickpea curry

Free stock photo of bean, bowl, breakfast

You'll need…

  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Fresh coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 onion
  • 2tbsp tomato paste
  • 300g brown rice
  • 3tsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 3tbsp water

Heat olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add in 1 clove of chopped garlic and spinach, allowing the spinach to wilt.

Toss in lemon juice and salt and stir them in and set the pan aside.

In a different pan, heat olive oil and add in the rest of the chopped garlic and chopped onion.

Season with curry powder, cumin and cinnamon, stirring to allow the onions to saute.

Toss in your chickpeas, tomato paste, salt and pepper and some water to create the sauce, stirring continuously.

Serve with brown rice, layering the chickpea mixture on top of the garlic spinach. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions for a little extra spice!

Sheet pan fajitas

cooked food on white ceramic plate

This is definitely one for the lazy evenings! A lifesaver we’re all well-acquainted with, the sheet pan fajitas is here to save the day!

You'll need…

  • 400g chicken breast
  • 2 bell peppers -red/orange/green
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Lime
  • 1/2tsp onion powder
  • 1 red onion
  • 2tsp chili powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2tbsp olive oil
  • Tortillas

Heat oven to 200C.

Thinly slice peppers and red onion and toss them in a bowl.

Cut your chicken breast into strips and add them in as well.

Pour in olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and toss to make sure everything is coated.

Lay tinfoil over a baking tray and spread out the contents of the bowl across it.

Bake for 25-30 minutes and in the last five minutes, place your tortillas onto a piece of tinfoil, fold it over and place them in the oven to warm up.

Remove everything from the oven, slice up a lime, squeezing it over the tray and chop your fresh cilantro up to scatter over the food. Dinner is served!

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