Being unable to cook might have been cute for Carrie Bradshaw, but not for us independent Millennials who can do it all, right? When I first moved out of my parents’ house, I didn’t really know how to do much more than boil pasta and cook a hamburger.
But now that I’m a full-fledged 26-year-old adult lady, helplessness isn’t a good look. Knowing how to cook basic things is an elementary life skill, one that many of us really need to learn, apparently.
A lot of my 20-something friends can burn water, but these seven dishes are totally idiot-proof. Add a few to your repertoire and maybe you won’t be so tired of takeout Chinese and crappy delivery pizza.
1. Pasta with sauce
Spaghetti and meat sauce is literally the easiest dish in the world. You buy a pound of ground beef. You brown it and drain off the fat. You boil some noodles. If you’re feeling really fancy, chop up some onions and mushrooms in that shit because Lord knows you could use some vegetables. I’m not expecting you to be Giada DeLaurentis or anything and whip up an 18-hour marinara, but you COULD just simmer some fresh tomatoes with basil instead of buying that crap in the jar. Or: Use this recipe from Bev Cooks.
2. Mashed potatoes
If you’re feeling sad, nothing will make you feel better than a big pile of mashed potatoes. You don’t even have to peel the damn things for them to be delicious, especially if you choose a thin-skinned variety like Yukon golds or red potatoes. Boil them in a pot until they break apart easily with a fork. Drain off the water. Add some butter and milk. Smash the hell out of them. Eat away your sorrows. Or: Use this recipe from Simply Scratch.
Sometimes you get on a healthy kick and that’s a real bitch if you’re used to eating fast food all the time. Get all the vegetables you need for basically the rest of your life in a big dish of stir-fry. Buy a bunch of vegetables you like at the store, especially stuff like carrots and bell peppers and broccoli. Chop them up. If you’re a meat-eater, add some frozen shrimp. Drizzle the whole thing with a little sesame oil, soy sauce, and even some orange juice if your lazy ass has fresh produce in the kitchen. Steam a pot of rice. Stuff face. Or: Use this recipe from Endless Simmer.
4. Roasted chicken
This is basically the laziest way to eat a delicious meal in the entire world. Buy a whole chicken. Sprinkle it all over with salt. Let it chill in your refrigerator overnight to pull some of the water out for a crispy crust. The next day, rub olive oil all over it and stuff its butt with a lemon or onion or other random produce. Apples work fine too. Roast at 425 F for an hour and 20 minutes, or until it isn’t pink on the inside anymore. Or: Use this recipe from Adventures in Cooking.
5. A really dope dip
Having company over for drinks usually means that you’re expected to provide snacks. Quit using that nasty French onion dip in a pouch and make your own real dip. My go-to is a smoked salmon cream cheese spread that everyone raves about. I buy some smoked salmon at the store, chop it up in a food processor, and add a package of softened cream cheese, green onions, and a little minced garlic. It takes about 2 minutes to make and is much better than that Velveeta bullshit you were planning to serve. Or: Use this recipe from Foodie Crush.
6. A dessert to envy
Bringing dessert automatically makes you the most popular person in the room, especially if it looks impressive as hell. I like to go with a trifle by arranging whipped cream, fresh berries and fruit, and store-bought angel food cake squares into layers. I’m a crappy baker, and you certainly don’t have to be a pastry chef to bring something that makes it look like you really do have your shit together. Or: Use this recipe from My Baking Addiction.
7. Chicken soup
Hey, you’re not Wonder Woman. You’re gonna get sick from time to time. According to me, chicken soup is the number one way to cure most illnesses. If you’re too lazy to make homemade stock, buy some organic low-sodium stuff in a box from Whole Foods. Cut up some carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Saute them in butter, and add in some rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Pour the box of stock over the top, and add in cooked egg noodles. Voila — just like grandma used to make, except you didn’t have to spend all damn day doing it. Or: Use this recipe from Crepes of Wrath.
If you can’t put these simple-ass dishes together, try the easy recipes below.