How to Get Teens to Make Dinner…And Like It

By Oscar Wolfe

The only thing I know how to cook is eggs. So, you can see why I wasn’t sure how I would do at Let’s Dish, a meal preparation store with locations across the Twin Cities. To be totally honest, I had never heard of Let’s Dish until they invited me to test it out. And when I researched it, it didn’t seem like something aimed at teens.

But I’m interested in cooking and would like to be able to make more than just eggs. So I rounded up a group of friends in 8th and 9th grade (and my little brother) and we headed to Let’s Dish in Maple Grove over winter break.

Here’s how it works: You walk into Let’s Dish, choose a meal from their monthly menu, and prepare it right then and there. The meals sounded complicated to make: Chicken Saltimbocca, Beef Tenderloin with Cranberry-Merlot Sauce, Salmon and Asparagus Risotto. But they have a station for each meal with all the ingredients and instructions that are easy to follow. Even though I have practically no cooking experience, I was able to make Four Cheese Spinach Lasagna (I’m a vegetarian), and the Decadent Molten-Chocolate Cakes (I have a sweet tooth). It was easy and fun (and you don’t have to clean up). And when I say easy, I don’t mean bad quality. It’s restaurant quality, but if I can do it, anyone can do it.

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Let’s Dish has been around for 15 years, and as founder Darcy Olson told me, it was designed for busy parents who needed to make a quick meal. But it works great as an activity for anyone, even my 10 year old brother, with just a couple tips from the staff. I didn’t know if my friends would really enjoy it, but I think that all of us had a genuinely good time and would not hesitate to go back. Plus, it’s extremely satisfying to come home with dinner for your family that you know you made. Now at least I have a case for not doing the dishes.

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Let’s Dish founder Darcy Olson with Oscar and friends.

While I was at Let’s Dish, I asked founder Darcy Olson a few questions about her business.

Where did you get the idea for Let’s Dish?
It’s been over 15 years since we started, and at that time, my kids were really young. I worked at General Mills. I would be in the car going home, and I would think, “What am I going to make for dinner?” So we wanted to think of a new way to make meals.

Why do you think Let’s Dish is good for teens?
It’s great for teens to help out at home. Also, one of the most challenging things as a parent is figuring out what your kids want for dinner. So it’s great for teens to be involved in making dinner. It’s fun to be able to help out. And before you know it, you’ll be the one who is responsible for dinner!

What makes this any different from cooking at home? What makes this better?
You don’t have to figure out what to make, get the recipe, the ingredients, do all the prepping, the chopping, and all of that. All of that takes so much time. And you don’t even know if the recipe’s going to turn out. The other alternatives would be you get pizza, you go to a drive-through—things that aren’t very healthy for you. So this is a great way to have really healthy food and really convenient food. The other great thing is that all of our meals are designed so that you can put them in your freezer and then just pull them out when you need.

What advice would you have for a kid or teen who wants to cook, start a business, or just be great?
Always be open to trying new things—and you can relate that to dinner! But it also parallels really nicely with life. Always be open to trying new things and learning new things about others and new perspectives.

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That Is Great!

A kid's take on stuff that is great.

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