Teens Can Cook!

Microwaveable Mug Meals in Minutes!



Teens love to show their independence, especially when you are working with teens in the eleven to thirteen (preteen) age.  Anytime you give them the opportunity to show what they can do for themselves, everyone wins. Couple that with food and you have a win-win situation.


In today’s day and age, many teens spend a lot of time home alone or overseeing younger siblings. During the school year, they come home from school and are expected to take care of tJunk-Food-Memehemselves.   During the summer it is even more isolated as they spend the bulk of the day without a care giver. This means they may be expected to not only make good decisions on self care (e.g. staying busy andkeeping themselves out of trouble) but also making sure that they eat throughout the day. Our hope is that they eat more than just some Pringles and Pop Tarts.


Cue Teens Can Cook! This is a simple cooking program catered to teens that parents will be happy to get on board with. While many parents may not want their teens, especially their preteens, to have access to the stove to cook while they are unsupervised, this program relies fully on the microwave. Teens can prepare their own nutritious (I won’t tell them if you don’t tell them!) meals in a matter of minutes with a few simple ingredients and just a microwave oven. There are many cookbooks on the market today filled with delicious microwave mug recipes. You might even find Mug Meals: Delicious Microwave Recipes by Dina Cheney or Meal in a Mug: 80 Fast, Easy Recipes for Hungry People by Denise Smart on the shelf in your library.


For this program, a microwave and plenty of space is required. Setting up tables in your meeting room or programming room as prep stations with a central location for the microwave as the cooking station works well. If you don’t have a ready supply of coffee mugs, there may be a cost to purchase these, but don’t worry!  Local thrift stores may sell these relatively cheap and subsequently available for future programming. This is the type of program to limit total participation to ensure supplies and ingredients are accurately provisioned. Every participant must be able to make a snack and learn the process.


Typically, the recipes call on ingredients easily obtainable in large quantities for a small amount of money, such as flour and sugar.  Therefore, try not to rely on recipes containing more expensive, perishable items such as eggs or milk. There are many tasty recipes that your teens will love that fit into this category. A recommendation is to target one or two recipes for the program itself with the opportunity to create a “recipe book” with other recipes for them to take home and attempt.


On the day of the program, provide the items for the recipes of the day in a pantry station along with the necessary items such as measuring spoons, etc. Make a sample of the recipe as an example to show the teens the expected results then let the teens create their own! They will enjoy the freedom to cook for themselves. Trust me, nothing will taste as good as a snack prepared by their own two hands.  Additionally,  they will be excited to share their new skills with families and friends.


Programs like Teens Can Cook! provide teens with valuable living skills that encourage self-reliance and confidence. These skills will take them far in life. What other programs have you done that encourage life-skills in your teens?


Below is a great Microwave Mug Meal to try with your teens:



All Purpose Flour 4 tbsp

Sugar 3 tbsp

Cocoa Powder 2 tbsp

Baking Soda 1/4 tsp

Milk 3 tbsp

Oil 2-3 tbsp (because it’s eggless I would error on the side of more oil)

Chocolate Chips   1 tsp



  1. Combine dry ingredients in a microwave safe mug.
  2. Add in wet ingredients and stir.
  3. Add some more chocolate chips on top for good measure
  4. Put in microwave for 70 seconds. (All microwave ovens are different. Check on your cake and cook at additional 10 second increments as needed until done.)
  5. Let it cool for a couple minutes and enjoy.


This is so easy and yummy. Only takes a few minutes to whip up and you’re enjoying a wonderfully rich chocolate cake from a mug.


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