Look, we get it. You're busy and after a long day at work the last place you want to be is on your feet in a hot kitchen. It's so tempting to pull up Seamless and just order some lo mein.
While the occasional take-out binge is no biggie, learning how to cook is one of the essential steps of growing up. There's a chapter dedicated to cooking in the millennial manifesto Adultingand shows like Worst Cooks In America make it clear that adults who don't know how to cook are a marvel to be laughed at.
We're not going to shame you like Bobby Flay, but we will gently remind you that knowing the basics of cooking is a skill that will only improve your life. Whether you're trying to impress a date or simply want to eat healthier, cooking at home can cut out unnecessary spending and unnecessary calories (as long as you're not using Paula Deen's cookbooks.)
If you're going to start learning to cook, you're going to need the right tools. You probably don't need a $2,000 copper-lined 14-piece kitchen set, but you may want to replace the dull knives you've had since college. Here's what you need to get started on your culinary journey.
Meal kit services are super popular because they make cooking incredibly easy and convenient. You don't need to make a grocery run after work because all of the ingredients are shipped right to your door. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are both great because they come with quick, easy-to-follow recipes that are designed to teach you cooking techniques without making boring meals. You can even customize your subscriptions based on your dietary restrictions and how often you want to get your box.Image: Blue Apron
Mashable readers are obsessed with the Instant Pot, and if you're just getting into cooking this handy gadget will be your best friend. Slow cooking is a great entry-level technique because you essentially just throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot and leave it for a few hours. That's pretty hard to screw up.Image: Instant Pot
The Instant Pot does a lot more than just slow cooking, but you can build up to that. To get you inspired, there are tons of cookbooks dedicated specifically to the Instant Pot that can teach you new techniques and recipes. The Instant Pot itself also has a free recipe app so you've got tons of options depending on your culinary preferences and skill level.Image: Amazon
Cookware comes in all kinds of materials, from aluminum to cast iron to the infomercial-friendly copper. Each of them has their pros and cons but if you're just looking for a long-lasting, easy-to-clean set you can't go wrong with Calphalon. My Calphalon set was a hand-me-down and it's been going strong for at least 10 years.
If you're going all-in you can spring for the 10-piece stackable Premiere Set, but all you really need to get started is a few saucepans and frying pans, and maybe a Dutch oven if you want to do some roasting. This set is on sale at Target and has 5 stars from reviewers.Image: Target
It goes without saying (we hope) that things are going to get hot. Oven mitts are a necessity and you can get some that express your personality while they protect your hands. This one with an illustration of Frida Kahlo is super cute and you can get a matching apron.Image: ModCloth
Do you ever notice on cooking shows that the chef always brings their own knives? That's because your knives are your tools of the trade — it's like a musician with their instruments or an artist with their brushes. Obviously you don't need the same mega-expensive knives that a professional chef uses, but a good set of knives and a nice knife block will take your kitchen to the next level.
This 5-piece set covers the basics, and will get the job done for novice home cooks. You'll need to pick up a sharpener, though, because — it's a cliché for a reason — a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. If you want more versatility, you can pick up this 15-piece set that includes a sharpener and kitchen shears.Image: J.A. Henckels
Once you graduate past throwing stuff in a pot and heating it up, you'll also need measuring cups and mixing bowls to prep ingredients.
This nesting set is both super cute and super convenient. It holds a set of measuring cups and spoons, a colander, a strainer, and a large and small mixing bowl. This will especially come in handy when you want to bake, but it's so pretty you might want to keep it out on your counter all the time.Image: Amazon
Kitchen utensils are another area where materials tend to vary based on personal preference. Silicone is popular because it's heat-resistant, non-stick, and won't scratch your cookware. This 10-piece set on Amazon is colorful and durable, with an inner metal core.Image: Amazon
Now that you're cooking more, you're going to have leftovers. It's a win for you because those leftovers are great for lunch the next day. You'll need a way to transport them to work, though, and old takeout containers don't usually hold up. Avoid your lunch spilling in your bag with some food storage containers with a vacuum seal.Image: Amazon
Tons of easy recipes are available for free on the internet, but if you (understandably) don't want to keep your laptop open in the kitchen while food is flying everywhere, you can grab some cookbooks that contain simple recipes and teach you the basics of cooking.
Billed as "the easiest cookbook in the world," Simple lives up to its title with recipes that each have "no more than 4 steps or 6 ingredients." That doesn't mean that they're boring, though. Dishes like Caramelized Pork and Saffron Risotto will fool anyone into thinking you know what you're doing.Image: Urban Outfitters
Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix is ideal for the math-minded folks who view cooking like a formula. You'll be able to see what works in what combinations and eventually start improvising off that foundation. You'll be a seasoned home chef in no time.Image: Amazon
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