A Very Basic Guide, If You Really Don’t Know How to Cook

Trust us, you can boil some pasta.

726871105

Photo by: Marc Schmerbeck / EyeEm/Getty

Marc Schmerbeck / EyeEm/Getty

As a millennial living in New York City, I have plenty of friends who simply don’t know how to cook. Even the idea of frying an egg can feel like a daunting task: set the heat at medium, lift the egg’s edges early to avoid sticking, hold salt and pepper until the end. It’s a process. Never mind that the ability to handle a knife properly isn’t exactly intuitive, which is likely why there are whole classes dedicated to the skill. Many of my friends have never even heard of the word “julienne.”

Instead of offering easy recipes that take no time at all and require only a few ingredients, what I think my friends need the most is how-tos. Understanding basic cooking skills like how to cook an egg, boil pasta, cook chicken breast and even make coffee (yes, really) opens the door to so many opportunities in the kitchen. Learning how to boil pasta and baking a ziti isn’t too far away!

So, if you’re anything like my takeout-loving friends here in the city, consider this a crash course on the basics of cooking.

Eggs

Whether you like your eggs hard-boiled or sunny side up, there’s a method you’ll want to follow. Pick your favorite egg style and never mess up your breakfast again.

Ever wonder how the top of a fried egg gets cooked if it never touches the pan? The secret: A lid to trap the heat.

A plate of tender scrambled eggs is only a dash of milk away.

Poaching eggs can seem intimidating, but a little practice goes a long way.

It’s all about timing when it comes to boiling your eggs just the way you like ’em.

Ready to add more toppings to your eggs? Prep all your ingredients before you drop any eggs into a pan.

Pasta

Never boiled pasta in your life? Not to fear. Just be sure to salt your water – make it as salty as the sea – bring it to a boil before adding the pasta (this is important!) and cook according to the instructions on the box. Here’s what you’ll need to make a basic pasta dinner.

Potatoes

HOW TO MAKE BOILED POTATOES
Laura B. Weiss
Food Network Kitchens
Potatoes, Salt, Butter, Parsley

HOW TO MAKE BOILED POTATOESLaura B. WeissFood Network KitchensPotatoes, Salt, Butter, Parsley,HOW TO MAKE BOILED POTATOES Laura B. Weiss Food Network Kitchens Potatoes, Salt, Butter, Parsley

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Simple. Filling. A well-seasoned, cooked potato can help tide you over.

Once you get this technique down, you’ll be well on your way to making potato salads and mashed and smashed potatoes.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wrap your spud in foil to get crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside baked potatoes.

Vegetables

Katie Lee preps Roasted Veggies for the week on a sheet tray, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Katie Lee preps Roasted Veggies for the week on a sheet tray, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

You don’t have to live off bags of raw, baby carrots alone. Stay nourished with these easy ways to cook and break down vegetables for sides, sauces and more.

If you only learn how to properly (that is: safely and efficiently) cut one vegetable in your lifetime, make it an onion. Onions serve as a base for so many recipes.

A minced clove of fresh garlic can make the simplest of dishes taste like you got them straight from a restaurant. Say goodbye to that pre-minced jar of garlic. We promise it’s worth the extra bit of work!

Meats, Poultry and Fish

Geoffrey Zakarian and Katie Lee share their tips and tricks for chicken in a Kitchen Helpline, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Geoffrey Zakarian and Katie Lee share their tips and tricks for chicken in a Kitchen Helpline, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Handling meat can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll be second nature. Start with less complicated forms of meat – boneless chicken breast, pre-sliced bacon, ground beef, frozen shrimp – and work your way up to, say, roasting a whole chicken.

Coffee

If you’re guilty of buying a cup of joe every day – without fail – on your way to work, here’s how to get your caffeine fix at home. You don’t even need a machine.

Related Links:

Next Up

What Do Food Pantries Really Need Right Now?

Food insecurity is still a problem for many Americans. Here's how to make your donations make the biggest difference.

What Do Clean, Disinfect, Sanitize and Sterilize Really Mean?

First things first, there's no such thing as "sterilizing" your kitchen.

How Much Exercise Do You Really Need Per Day?

Getting a healthy amount of movement each day is easier than you might think.

What to Know About Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances

Find out how energy-efficient appliances can save you money, and whether they're really better for the environment.

What Home Bakers Should Know Before Putting Fresh Flowers on Cake

Three pastry professionals share how to safely decorate with fresh blooms.

How to Cook a Bunch of Little Dishes for a Crowd

Korean cuisine is known for its impressive spreads of banchan a.k.a. side dishes. Here are tips to pulling off your own well-balanced, ever-changing assortment.

10 Best Groceries to Buy at the Dollar Store

Save your grocery bill by doing some shopping at these stores that are all about affordability.

Your 4-Week Plan to Better Food Budgeting in 2021

Experts explain how getting a handle on your grocery bill this month can lead to savings for the rest of the year.

How to Make the Most of Your Freezer Space

If you keep your freezer organized, you can store meat, produce, ice cream and leftovers all at the same time.

How to Identify When You’re Hungry or Full — and Why It’s Important

A dietitian explains how to tune into your body's natural hunger signals, especially after a restrictive diet.

What's New