A Day Of Food: The New Cook’s Menu

Here are a few easy recipes for those who don’t know how to go about boiling water. It’s okay, we all start somewhere!  (I’ve included the equipment needed for these starter recipes, but also check my earlier post that lists all the things needed to complete your first kitchen.)

Note: Remember what your momma said about being in the kitchen–wash your hands with soap before preparing food!

BREAKFASTnew cook – Scrambled eggs on toast

You’ll Need:
– A frying pan
– A wet-ingredient measuring cup (the kind that looks like a pitcher) or mixing bowl or coffee mug
– Spatula (what you’d use to flip a pancake, not what you’d use to scrape out a bowl)
– Fork or whisk
– A few eggs
– Salt and pepper
– A little milk or cream
– A little butter

If you have a toaster, use that to make your toast. If not, butter both sides of your bread and place it in your pan. It’ll take a minute or two for the pan to get hot, so the first side will be slow. Make sure to use your spatula to flip the toast and get the other side.

Crack your eggs into your mixing bowl, and beat them until the yolks and whites mix together. Add a tablespoon or two of milk or cream, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into your pan. Use your spatula to keep it moving in your pan by scraping across the bottom of the pan in all directions–don’t let anything sit in one spot too long or it might burn. Within a few minutes, the eggs will stop being so soupy-looking and will start looking like scrambled eggs. When most of the egg is like that, it’s safe to eat. It’s okay if there’s a little liquid in the bottom of the pan when you remove the eggs. DO NOT let eggs sit in the pan, even if the heat is off; the residual heat in the pan will overcook them and turn them into rubber.

Scoop up your scrambled eggs with your spatula and slide them off onto your toast.

Congratulations–you made a hot breakfast!

Approximate price of ingredients: $1.00

LUNCH – Grilled cheese sandwich and side salad

You’ll Need:
– A frying pan
– A spatula
– A chef’s knife
– Storage container for the remaining salad (unless you have a roommate or two)
– Cheese
– Bread
– A little butter
– A bag of lettuce
– An onion
– A tomato
– Your favorite salad dressing


Now’s the time to use your knife skills. If you don’t know how to use a knife, go ahead and spend 15 minutes with Alton Brown.


Now: wash your tomato and give your lettuce a bit of a rinse. Chop up your onion and tomato, toss them together with your lettuce, and serve yourself some in a bowl. Throw some salad dressing into your bowl, store the rest of the salad, and you’re done making your salad!


You should make this after the salad, because you’ll want to eat it hot.

Start by heating up your pan. Put a little pat of butter in it; once the butter starts sliding around quickly, it’s hot and greased and ready to go. Don’t use too much butter–not because it’s bad for you, but because oil likes to jump and pop in a hot pan. Hot grease spitting at your hands smarts for a few seconds–it won’t really hurt you, but it’s something to avoid if you can.

Make your cheese sandwich and lay it down in your pan. If you overestimated how much butter you need, use your spatula to put it in. Let it sizzle for a while, let the cheese melt a little, then use your spatula to lift the edge of the sandwich and check how brown the bread is underneath. Once it’s toasted to your satisfaction, flip it over. The second side may not take as long depending on how much butter is left in the bottom of your pan to cook it; it’s no biggie if there isn’t any/much, though.

If you’re not fond of darker-toasted bread but you like melty cheese, flip more frequently to let the hot side of the sandwich cool off. It’ll help keep things under your control.

Once the cheese is melted and both sides of the sandwich are toasted to your satisfaction, you’re done! Serve with your salad.

Congratulations! You made lunch!

Approximate price of ingredients: $4.00 (You’ll have enough of the ingredients left over for another meal.)

DINNER – Pasta with marinara sauce

You’ll Need:
– A large saucepan (one that looks like a frying pan with extra-tall sides and looks big enough to hold your box of pasta) or a soup pot
– A colander or strainer
– An oven mitt, towel or silicone grippy pad
– Storage containers for remaining pasta (unless you have 3 roommates)
– A box of pasta
– A can of pasta sauce (don’t try to use plain tomato sauce, unless you’re being ambitious and using a separate recipe to make it into pasta sauce)

Tip: I like Hunt’s pasta sauce. It’s cheap, tasty, and the can is the right size in proportion to the box of pasta.

– Salt (important!)

Fill your pot most of the way with water. Add a tablespoon or two of salt–this step is never optional! You need to bring the water to a boil, which means you just let the water stand over the heat for a while. At first it’ll start to form bubbles on the bottom of the pan; the water is boiling when they get to bubbling up and then re-forming on the bottom immediately. This is when you add your pasta–not before!

Before you throw away the pasta box, take note of how long it says to cook the pasta first. Some pasta takes 7-8 minutes, other pasta might take 13-14. Be sure to cook it just how long it says on the box. If you like mushy pasta (for some reason… I’m aware these people exist, and I don’t understand them), you can leave it in the water for two minutes longer.

Put your colander or strainer in your sink. Using an oven mitt or towel to protect your hand, pick up the pot by its (heavy, very warm) handle, and dump the contents (away from you, please!) into the strainer. Like the eggs, you SHOULD NOT leave pasta to stand in warm water!

Transfer some pasta to your bowl, and the rest to storage containers to keep in the fridge. You can store pasta with the sauce on it, although it may last a little less long. Use your salad left over from lunch for a side dish.

Congratulations! You made dinner!

Approximate price of ingredients: $2.50 (You’ll have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.)

BONUS: A link to my favorite recipe for delicious, simple chocolate cake!

Allrecipes Extreme Chocolate Cake (opens in new tab)

Related Posts

Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I'm a young programmer from Iowa getting ready to move out on my own. I hold aspirations of starting my own tech startup in Boston or San Francisco, but will settle for getting into a nice college if that doesn't pan out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *