It is time. Seamless is stealing your money and and your health, and one day a grownup is going to come over and you'll want to serve them something more gourmet than a half-eaten bag of Funyuns. It is time to learn how to cook for yourself, like the adult that you are.
You'll need to go to the grocery store, you'll need a kitchen and you'll need to have faith. Do know that all of the powers in the universe are rooting for you. You can cook for yourself, and with this knowledge you will transform from a collegiate ramen-eater to a person who can handle the basics. Below, find the 19 recipes and rules you should master now -- nobody's getting any younger!
1. Hard boil an egg.
It's a skill you must have down. Dubbed the perfect protein, eggs are incredibly versatile and can transform any ordinary dish into somewhat of a healthy one. Some say that steaming or baking eggs is a better technique, but we're starting with basic boiling here. This is how to do it: Boil a pot of water. Gently place your eggs into the pot (you can turn down the heat slightly). After 10 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water for about a minute. Keep them in their shell for freshness, and pop them in the fridge until you're ready to consume.
2. Soft boil an egg.
Here's the relief you've always craved: It's okay if you can't poach an egg. It is quite alright. Save poached for brunch out with the gals, and soft boil at home for a similar result. Soft boiled eggs are like poached egg's less sensitive cousin, and they still maintain that perfect runny yolk. To make them, place your eggs in a boiling pot of water for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how runny you like them. When time's up, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Gently peel the shells and serve immediately. Try them on avocado toast! In a salad! Why don't you count the ways?
3. Chop an onion.
Get ready for a bold statement: More recipes contain onion than not. You know you need to learn this, you've just been putting off. Check out this step-by-step tutorial to become proficient.
4. Use a can opener.
You know who you are. Stop hoarding pull-top soups and pouched tuna fish. The time is now. Invest in a rust-proof opener and ask somebody you trust not to judge you to show you how this tool works. Good work and goodbye.
5. Make a really good grilled cheese.
This gooey childhood staple can become an adulthood staple, too, with just a few tweaks. For R-rated cheese sandwiches, swap those floppy squares of American cheese for something that packs a real flavor: think cheddar, fresh mozzarella and pepper jack. Then, start dreaming about sophisticated fixin's: Bacon, brussels sprouts, avocado, figs ... there are endless opportunities here. Check out these recipes for some inspiration.
6. Steam vegetables.
Invest in a steam basket. This little kitchen gadget can transform fresh or cheap bags of frozen vegetables into pretty side dishes. To use a steam basket, bring a tiny bit of water to boil in a pot and place some vegetables -- frozen or raw -- inside the basket, then into the pot with the lid on. After a few minutes, everything will be cooked and ready.
7. Prepare a meal with more than one ingredient.
It's so great that you learned to make chicken, but it'd be even greater if you paired it with a green and/or starch of some sort. This doesn't have to be difficult. Veggies are your friend (seriously) and you can cook a sweet potato in the microwave, though it tastes better when it's cooked in the oven. Lose yourself in the produce aisle, because zoning out is good for you and so is spinach.
8. Organize a cheese plate for your friends.
You fancy, huh? Damn right. This is a really simple thing to do, and it will make everybody happy -- that's what cheese does. Choose a cheese from three kinds of animals. That means you'll have cow, sheep and goat's cheese to wow your pals with. Watch the smart cheese advice above from Laura Werlin, author of The All American Cheese and Wine Book, to get more details.
9. Contribute one damn thing to the Thanksgiving table.
Wouldn't that be nice? Your relatives may have had claim on certain dishes since the 19th century, so maybe it's time you start a tradition of your own. They'll expect it now that you're no longer banished to the kid's table. Try your hand at an unconventional pie, or have Bobby Flay be your muse with his roasted carrots, Spanish spices, yogurt sauce and harissa recipe to add a bit of spice to Turkey Day.
1o. Make chocolate chip cookies that don't come from a tube.
That tube has been there for you during the best of times and the worst of times. You don't have to retire it, but to make your own cookies from scratch is something really special. It'll show the recipients of your baked goods that you value their happiness as much as you value your own time. Our girl Martha S., to no surprise, has crafted a handy chart of cookie equations that'll help you start off simple. When you've mastered these, feel free to experiment with different add-ins.
11. Enjoy a breakfast that isn't cereal.
It can still come in a bowl: Oatmeal and yogurt are both viable options. Have yourself some of those hard or soft boiled eggs you just learned how to prepare, use this really, really easy recipe to make an omelette, or cook some bacon in the oven for a crispy, mess-free delight. You have grown up and so has your palette; you may always enjoy a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, but there is more to the morning. Don't miss out.
12. Make your own salad dressing, without a recipe.
The ingredients are probably in your pantry, so why not DIY? For the most basic of basic recipes, you'll need olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar (any kind will do, but white is really nice and won't stain your shirt). The dressing is prime as is, but it's also a wonderful canvas for add-ins like honey, ginger, garlic and herbs. Go wild and experiment. Traditional recipes call for one part acid (that's the vinegar) to three parts oil. Learn more about that here.
13. Prepare a pot of coffee.
You're gonna need to know how to do this. Even if you don't have a coffee maker of your own and rely on the office Keurig, there's going to be a day in your life when you're with a bunch of people and you're assigned the duty of making coffee. If you struggle, the people will be extra irritated because they won't have had their coffee yet. Don't risk it. Typical coffee makers require the use of a dry paper filter. The filter will host the ground coffee beans. Most coffee bags will suggest how much water to use per tablespoon of ground coffee beans. For stronger coffee, use more beans.
14. Wash produce before eating it.
Self explanatory. We believe in you.
15. Buy some things in bulk.
Snack-sized packs ain't always gonna cut it. You'll save a lot of dough if you buy bulk. Think about the foods that often make it into your new adult meal rotation; dry goods like rice, beans, pasta and oatmeal are always smart to have around.
16. Cook a pot of rice.
And not from a bag by Uncle Ben. This'll come in handy on sick days, or when you have to feed a bunch of people. To make perfect white rice, every time, follow Will Cook For Friends' easy-to-read instructions. It's as good as it gets.
17. Conceive your own guacamole recipe.
Guac's pretty hard to eff up. A standard recipe calls for avocados, onion, lime, salt and pepper. Make your recipe more fun: Add tomatoes, cilantro, jalepenos or fruit like mango. Play around a bit and soon you'll have something to call your "signature" dish. You can always serve with tortilla chips, but consider getting a little wild with dippers like fresh veggies.
18. Make powder-less mac and cheese.
Dinosaur shaped pasta and impossibly orange cheese powder will always have a place in your heart (and your pantry, in case of a drunk eating night an emergency). But come on, admit it, the homemade version is so much more filling and delicious. Dare to add a vegetable to the mix (spinach is a good starter) and you'll be able to hear your mom brag about all of your accomplishments from across the country. Look at this round up of recipes and try to pick just one.
19. Make soup from scratch.
It's going to taste real good. Canned soup is no match for a batch made fresh. All you really need is stock and vegetables and you'll end up with something tasty. For recipes a little more complex than that, check out some of these.
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