10 Foods Every 20-Something Should Learn to Cook

Parmesan crusted chicken with pasta and a spring lettuce salad

Because who wants to eat takeout for the rest of their life?

I LOVE to cook and I love taking the time to experiment with new recipes. Plus I think it’s good to experiment with new recipes. Not only do you get to learn what you do and don’t like, but you also learn about the way flavors and spices compliment each other, making you a better cook in the process.

While my Pinterest board Iron Chef has 500+ pins, I have reviewed 10 staple foods I think everyone should learn how to cook in their 20s.

  1. Roasted veggies.
    Roasted vegetables are always a good side dish in my opinion. I don’t have a specific recipe for roasting vegetables, I usually just heat my oven to around 400 F, sprinkle olive oil and kosher salt on the pan, and let them cook. Of course for added flavor you can use other spices. If you want a recipe, try this one.
  2. A good burger.
    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good, hearty beef burger. Lately I have taken a liking to turkey burgers. I will admit I use store-bought patties. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, cook them in a skillet with olive oil until they have a nice brown sear, and top with lettuce, provolone cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. If you would like to make a homemade burger, try this recipe.
  3. Salmon
    Salmon is one of my favorite types of fish to cook (along with tilapia). I think my favorite salmon recipe so far has been parmesan crusted salmon. Recipe can be found here. I also enjoy honey salmon and herb crusted salmon. Recipes for both can be found here and here.
  4. Marinated chicken
    Few things can be as tasty as a good marinated chicken. While there are TONS of ways to cook chicken, some of my favorites are Greek chicken and balsamic chicken. Both of the recipes found here and here.
  5. Flavored rice
    Beyond just throwing some white rice in a pot or cooking minute rice in the microwave (both of which I am not objected too), there are lots of ways to cook rice and give it some awesome flavors. My favorite way to cook rice is cheesy zucchini rice, the recipe of which is here. My other favorite way to cook rice is parmesan rice. There are lots of different recipes for this, but this one is one of my favorites.
  6. Hearty mashed potatoes
    Another staple side dish (or in some cases just a flat meal for me) is mashed potatoes. Now mashed potatoes are the epitome of practice makes perfect. I have had moments where I feel like I’ve screwed up so much I’d rather eat store bought for the rest of my life. But there is something about homemade mashed potatoes that makes your mouth water. Want a fun recipe? I like this sour cream and cheddar one.
  7. A warm bowl of pasta
    I looooooove pasta. I love pasta almost as much as I love seafood. Finding just one pasta recipe is never enough for me. I always make a pasta-inspired dish around once a week. I have tried so many recipes thus far, but some of my favorites are creamy Italian chicken and baked ziti. Recipes from here and here.
  8. A hearty bowl of soup
    Soup is another staple food everyone should know how to cook. It is such a perfect cold day food. And honestly, do you want to post how much you want your parents to come make you soup every rainy day OR do you want to learn how to cook it yourself. I eat lots of soup year-round and I have tried tons of recipe over the past few years. My favorites? Potato soup and taco soup. Recipes found here and here.
  9. The perfect cookie
    Cookies are an awesome dessert because there are so much you can do with them. While I love chocolate, one of my favorites I’ve ever made are snickerdoodles (They did win me 2nd place at the Hill County Fair). Unfortunately, I’m not sure where I pulled my original recipe from, I just know I had a tendency to substitute cinnamon with cinnamon sugar. For another recipe, try this one.
  10. A good seared steak
    Steak is another food that I absolutely love to eat. Cooking it, however, is like mashed potatoes. Practice makes perfect. Now, I don’t have a grill so I have had to learn how to cook steak on stove top. Season it, sear it in a cast iron skillet, and finish it off in the oven if need-be. Since I don’t have a specific recipe, I’ve had to do some extensive research but this one looks yummy.

So there y’all go! Ten foods I think everyone in their 20s should learn how to cook because so many other recipes can stem from these staple foods. Now, who is ready to go eat?

Greek chicken, parmesan rice, and a romaine lettuce salad

P.S. Sorry I don’t have pictures of all these foods. Inspiration just kind of struck on this post so I had to use pictures of foods I had already cooked!


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