You’ve been alive for a while, right? And, presumably, you’ve been eating food pretty much the whole time. But when it comes to preparing that food yourself, you may have a little work to do. (Or maybe you’re a world-class chef! I don’t know your life.)
There are some things that every person should know when it comes to the kitchen. Otherwise, you inconvenience others, end up spending money you probably don’t have, and — honestly — you’re doing a disservice to yourself.
I’ve compiled a list of things that every person should probably be able to do before they turn 30. If you’ve already nailed them all, congratulations! If not, don’t panic! There’s no better time to learn than now. You have countless TV shows, online videos, and websites that have all the cooking knowledge you could ever desire.
You can totally do this!
Here’s what you need to know.
In no particular order…
I know what you’re thinking, “Ramen is a cheap staple food that got me through college! Why do I need to know that now?” Well, I’m not talking about the Ramen that is 40 cents a package and comes with a packet of seasoned salt.
Learn how to dress up your ramen noodles with fresh (or frozen) veggies, actual broth (and/or miso paste), soft-boiled eggs, and other fancy stuff. It’s still easy; it’s just elevated from what you ate between classes.
You’ve probably been bringing water to a boil, dumping in the pasta, then straining it — maybe even (gasp!) rinsing it off.
First of all, salt your water. You’ll be thankful you did. Secondly, make sure you’re cooking your noodles al dente! Third, do not rinse off your pasta. One exception to this is if you’re making a cold pasta salad. If it’s hot, rinse it not. (That’s a rhyme I just made up for you to remember.)
In that same vein…
3. Making Homemade Pasta Sauce
I know the stuff in the jar is super easy and super cheap, but so is homemade pasta sauce! Truly! All you need is tomatoes (and other veggies) and time — the longer you let it cook down, the better. Plus, you can make a whole bunch of it at once and save some for later.
Stop making dusty eggs with that gross green ring around the yolk. You can do better!
Here’s my personal method for the perfect hard-boiled egg (I like mine slightly jammy):
Start by bringing a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add eggs and cook for exactly 10 minutes. Remove eggs, rinse under cold water and dunk in an ice bath. Voila! Couldn’t be easier.
Just look at that beautiful yolky waterfall! If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will.
Poaching eggs might sound super complicated, but I promise you can do it. Here’s a handy tutorial!
7. Making a Hollandaise Sauce
Once you’ve mastered the poached egg, the only thing standing between you and eggs Benedict whenever you want ’em is the perfect Hollandaise sauce.
It might take a couple tries, but you can do this.
You’ve probably been scrambling eggs for years…but are you doing it correctly? If you’re cracking eggs directly into the pan, the answer is no!
I really like Gordon Ramsay’s version of scrambled eggs. They’re a total game changer!
I’m not talking about just using salt and pepper. Ideally, you should have a collection of herbs and spices that you add to your food– this of which don’t just sit in your cupboard for years.
Thyme and basil are two of my favorites!
10. Baking Cookies from Scratch
Slicing and baking those pre-made cookies does not count. Work on mastering the perfect chocolate chip cookie (or peanut butter, oatmeal, or snickerdoodles — whatever you like!).
One quick tip: Always take cookies out a couple of minutes before they look done, so they don’t burn. They’ll continue to cook on the sheet even after being removed from the oven!
Most people will end up dicing a lot of onions in their lifetime. So, you may as well take the time to learn how to do so efficiently!
Ideally, this applies to the set of good knives that you bought for your kitchen — but even a cheap knife can be sharpened!
If you don’t know how to do this yourself, you can find a knife-sharpening booth at your local farmer’s market, where they demonstrate for you.
Technically, this can be done in the microwave, although I’ve had better success using the double boiler method.
All you have to do is add some water to a pot and bring it to a simmer. Place your chocolate in a metal or glass bowl and rest the bowl on top of the boiling water. The heat from the water will melt the chocolate!
Taking the time to meal plan or prep can be a real snooze fest, but it is so, so worth it.
Planning your meals ahead of time will save you both time and money — and it’ll keep you from ordering takeout every dang night.
This goes hand-in-hand with meal planning.
If you make multiple batches of the same meal, you can easily save the leftovers for your lunch the next day. Once again, it saves both time and money.
They’re packed with protein, highly customizable, and only take a few minutes to make.
What’s not to love?
Here’s another skill that’ll get you major points at Thanksgiving, but it’s easy enough that you can make it year-round, too.
For best results, you can definitely just get a rice cooker and use that! It’s a wonderful piece of technology.
But, you can also do it using the good ol’ fashioned stovetop method. Just be careful not to overcook or undercook it.
If you haven’t already mastered eating with chopsticks, the time is now! Being able to confidently use chopsticks will make you much more satisfied when you eat out at places that use them.
Whether you’re separating this with a fancy soda bottle, the shell, or using your fingers, being able to properly separate an egg is a useful skill to have.
Especially because it leads to this next skill…
If you have a stand mixer, it’s pretty hard to fail this one (unless you haven’t properly separated your eggs, that is).
If you’re whipping egg whites by hand, it’s gonna take some time and muscle.
I don’t know about you, but I was always very intimidated by the idea of baking my own bread…until I actually tried it. It’s easier than you think!
No-Knead bread is a great place to start your bread-making journey! It only requires four ingredients!
Repeat after me: Turn. Fold. Push. Turn. Fold. Push.
Now just do that until the dough is fully kneaded. Voila.
26. Cooking the Perfect Steak
Start it in a hot pan. Finish it in a hot oven broiler. Let it rest for at least five minutes!
Those are the basics.
28. Substituting Ingredients
In most baked goods, you can swap out an egg for half a banana. You can also sometimes substitute applesauce for butter. Don’t freak out if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand — Google whether there’s an easy substitute!
29. Cook for Multiple People
Whether you’re trying to impress a date or just making food for some friends, it’s super useful to be able to cook for more than just yourself. And, it’s impressive.
Share this with someone who might like to learn some of these lessons!