11 Meals Every 20-Something Should Know How to Cook

Homemade burgers

Now that you’re in your twenties, you have no choice but to learn how to properly feed yourself. Instead of skipping out on cooking and spending your precious money on daily Quiznos runs, here are 11 simple meals you should know how to prepare.

1. Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food, so it should be one of the first things you learn to cook upon leaving the nest. A basic grilled cheese is fairly foolproof, so it shouldn’t take you long to master, then you can kick it up a few notches with some bacon and guacamole or any of your other favorite toppings.

2. Omelettes

Omelettes are one of my favorite breakfast foods because they’re hearty, healthy (as long as you don’t add too much ham and cheese), and fully customizable. They’re pretty easy to make, but if all else fails, scrap the omelette and turn it into a veggie, meat, cheese, and egg scramble.

3. Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup

The one food I crave when I’m sick is a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup (preferably made by my adoring mother, but that’s not always an option). If you don’t want to be slaving over a pot when you’re running a 103-degree fever or settling for the sodium-laden canned stuff, prepare some of this easy soup in advance and freeze it, so you’ll have it on hand whenever you need it.

4. Stir-Fry

If you don’t have the money for Chinese takeout (or you’re trying to eat clean and beef and broccoli doesn’t exactly fit the bill), you should know how to make a good chicken and vegetable stir fry. You’ll get all the Chinese flavors you’re craving for much less money and fewer calories.

5. Tacos

Tacos

Don’t rely on Taco Bell for your Taco Tuesday fix. Learn how to create your own beef, chicken, steak, or black bean tacos, and they will taste leagues better. If tacos aren’t your thing (although I don’t know why they wouldn’t be), you can always adapt this recipe to make nachos, quesadillas, or burritos.

6. Burgers

Making a flawlessly cooked, flavorful burger is an art form, one that you absolutely need to master if you ever want to host a backyard barbecue. The seasoning doesn’t have to be complicated to be tasty, so follow this recipe and invest in a good meat thermometer until you can eyeball meat done-ness like a pro.

7. Chili

Chili

I could eat chili for every meal during the cold winter months, and I know I’m not the only one. Chili is such a great one-pot meal because a single batch will last you a whole week, and you can slather it over some Fritos and top with cheese for what we’ll pretend is a healthy, balanced meal.

8. Baked Fish

Fish is a healthy meat alternative, and this incredibly simple baked salmon recipe is actually my favorite salmon recipe! Food doesn’t always have to be complicated to be delicious. Serve this with some roasted asparagus and both your taste buds (and your waistline) will be satisfied.

9. Spaghetti Sauce

Tomato sauce for spaghetti

After the first time I made my own spaghetti sauce from scratch, I knew I could never go back to the store-bought, jarred garbage. Homemade tomato sauce is so much tastier, so if you can perfect it, you’ll have no problem impressing your dinner party guests. It’s even more impressive if you make some homemade meatballs as well.

10. Roast Chicken

Whether it’s a whole roasted chicken or pan roasted chicken thighs, everyone should know how to roast a delicious, juicy chicken. It’s an easy, inexpensive meal that is classy enough to serve at dinner parties, but still casual enough that to enjoy on your own in front of the television.

11. Salad

Salad

You don’t technically “cook” salad, but it’s still a meal you should know how to make. Most people’s version of a homemade salad is a sad combination of iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing, but it really isn’t that hard to make a restaurant-worthy one. Here’s one of my favorite salad recipes with zingy sriracha lime chicken and an amazing lime vinaigrette.

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