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    41 Cooking Basics You Should Probably Know By Now

    To begin: Always read the recipe *all the way through* before you get started.

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    1. Make sure your kitchen is properly stocked with the right knife for the task at hand. For example, you don't want to squish tomatoes with a chef's knife — you should be using a serrated one!

    A guide to a knife block, with examples of steak knives, chef's knife, slicing knife, serrated knife, paring knife, vegetable knife, utility knife, tomato knife, and cheese knife
    thekitchn.com

    Keep in mind the three *most* important knives to have in your kitchen: the chef's knife, the serrated knife, and the paring knife. You can basically do it all if you start with these bbs.

    Need the three basic knives? These are great options:

    Victorinox 8-inch chef's knife ($34.82 from Amazon)

    J.A. Henckels 5-Inch Serrated Utility Knife ($40.49 from Amazon

    Victorinox 4-Inch Paring Knife ($9.98 from Amazon)

    Learn more about every kind of knife at The Kitchn.

    2. When prepping your ingredients for a recipe, make sure you're actually following the chopping guidelines. If it calls for a 1-inch dice, a julienne, or a mince, make sure you know what those words mean.

    Header image for the post The Complete Guide To Knife Cuts
    BuzzFeed

    And good news: we have a whole article dedicated to this! Check out The Complete Guide to Knife Cuts for everything you need to know to slice, dice, and chiffonade like a pro.

    Until you get the hang of it, use a cutting board with measurements etched right on it so you always chop evenly, whether you're mincing or julienning!

    The cutting board with a grid of measurements to guide chopping, with someone julienning and small dicing a carrot on it
    Amazon

    Get it from Amazon for $26.72.

    Promising review: "My husband IS the obsessive chef! He is always very precise and careful in his cutting. If a recipe calls for dicing potatoes into one-inch chunks...that is what he will do. I really bought this for him as a joke because of how precise he is, but he LOVED it. He truly uses the gridlines and the measurements to accurately dice his food. Additionally, its a nice light weight cutting board. If you know a perfectionist chef, this is a GREAT gift idea." —TJ Callahan

    3. Season your food as you go, and when you do, sprinkle your salt from high up — that'll ensure a more even distribution and no salt stuck in a certain area (and therefore no weirdly salty mouthfuls when you finally dig in).

    A hand sprinkling salt into a dutch oven from about two feet up
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    4. And use the right salt for the right thing: cook with kosher salt (not table salt) for a more even flavor, and finish with TikTok-loved Maldon flakey salt for texture *and* flavor.

    The box of salt with a halved avocado and a little bowl of the large salt crystals
    instagram.com

    Flakey salt on fresh chocolate chip cookies?! Nothing better.

    Get a box of Maldon salt from Amazon for $6.05.

    Promising review: "Have I become a salt snob? I asked for a marble salt box for Valentines Day, and I couldn't very well put common table salt inside such a beautiful thing, could I? No. I did a bit of research and found out that Maldon's Sea Salt flakes are the gold standard... even better than the pink salt I bought at the big box store that rhymes with Bosco! This salt's texture is a delight and the flavor is clean and bright (without being sharp). This is a little luxury in my kitchen, and every time I use it, I'm like, 'Dang. This is the good life!'" —Indiana A.

    Check out 11 Tips for Perfectly Seasoning Your Food for more info.

    5. Before you start cooking, prep your ingredients and put them in little containers or glass bowls (this is called mise en place) — that way you won't ever forget an ingredient or accidentally add the wrong amount.

    The set of bowls being used for various baking ingredients, with the largest used as a mixing bowl
    Amazon

    This set of nine Duralex bowls come in different sizes (1 ounce, 2 ounce, 4 ounce, 6 ounce, 10 ounce, 1/2 quart, 1 quart, 1- 1/2 quart, 2-1/2 quart) and nest for easy storage — and they're dishwasher, fridge, and microwave safe and can withstand quick temperature changes without shattering.

    Get the set from Amazon for $38.43.

    Promising review: "Wouldn't trade these for the world. I think this is my favorite kitchen purchase in a long time. I wish I had bought two sets and can't wait to get another when the budget allows. This set is awesome. It has a tiny little bowl for setting aside salt, pepper or other spices to mix in later, and the large bowl is PERFECT for mixing a batch of 12 muffins. It also has every imaginable size in between. Filming some foodie videos and need to set aside ingredients like the pros? THIS IS THE SET for you!!! Also, these are sturdy — I tend to break glass objects and this set has made it through all my hand washing, dish washer, clanging around, and even a state to state move! They also can be put in the microwave to heat ingredients. This is the best all-around set of glass bowls for any kitchen. . . . Like I said, you might want to buy two sets!" —Judith L. Jackson

    Still not convinced? Read about the magic: Prep Bowls Will Seriously Change The Way You Cook.

    6. Master the one-pan dinner and you're basically already a master chef. All you need is a sheet pan + protein + veggies + salt + oil. That is IT.

    A header image showing a variety of one-stray oven dinners
    buzzfeed.com

    BuzzFeed has tons and tons and tons and tons of sheet pan meal ideas to get you started, but just get experimenting with your favorite flavors!

    Need some quality pans to get you started? Try Oxo's two-piece set of nonstick baking sheets (one half sheet, one quarter sheet) for easy clean-up! Get the set of two from Amazon for $34.99.

    Promising review: "I haven't used these pans yet but I see they're thicker and well-made rather than the other brands and as long as I take good care of them, (washing them with soft dish cloths by hand) they'll last beautifully for years. I ADORE all Oxo products. They're worth every penny. I've bought almost all of their kitchen products and other gadgets through the years because they'll last forever! If anything is wrong, they'll make it right immediately." —Debbie Allen

    7. Don't shy away from herbs and spices — they make all the difference between meals that are bland and meals that are bangin'.

    A chart showing what is in and how to use popular spice blends
    cooksmarts.com

    —Chili powder: ancho chile, paprika, cumin, and Mexican oregano

    —Za'atar: thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac

    —Herbs de provence: rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage, and tarragon

    —Garam masala: chinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, mace, peppercorns, coriander, turmeric, and cumin

    —Ras el hanout: cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric

    —Curry powder: turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper

    —Cajun seasoning: black pepper, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and thyme

    —Chinese five spice: cassia, clove, fennel, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns

    Educate yourself when it comes to herbs and spices at Cook Smarts!

    8. And pro tip: keeping your spices *actually* organized is the best way to make sure you don't add cumin when you meant to add coriander.

    Amazon

    Spice racks only *wish* they could. These drawer liners are made of a soft foam to keep your jars in the right position (label up!) so you can quickly grab what you need. And you can trim 'em to fit your drawers!

    Get a 10-foot roll from Amazon for $15.99.

    Promising review: "This is one of my favorite things I've ever purchased from Amazon! I think this will be my go-to gift for all of my friends who love cooking as much as I do! Freeing up cabinet space and having something that can so easily be rinsed off in the sink makes this a for-sure buy!" —momonono

    9. When zesting a lemon, use a microplane to remove only the top layer of skin, and try not to get too much of the white stuff (it's called the pith). You get all the delicate citrus-y flavor, with none of the bitterness!

    A model zesing a lemon on the large microplane
    Amazon

    It's also ~grate~ for fine cheese shavings, easily minced ginger, and more.

    Get a top-rated microplane from Amazon for $10.98.

    10. Perfect the art of the poached egg so you can top every meal with an Instagram-able runny yolk! The key is to add a tablespoon of vinegar and keep the boiling water swirling around the egg.

    A perfect poached egg, with a compact oval shape, just set whites, and a bright yellow, very runny yolk
    Photos by Lauren Zaser/ Graphics by Chris Ritter/ BuzzFeed

    Find all the steps and learn How To Never Mess Up Your Poached Eggs Again.

    If you need help while you get the hang of it, you can try silicone poaching cups with perforations to mimic the traditional swirling method.

    Amazon

    Get a set of two from Amazon for $9.99.

    Promising review: "FINALLY! My long search is over for a solution that really works! The eggs poach perfectly! The process involves simply dropping an egg into the poacher and waiting a few minutes for the desired level of firmness — no stirring the water to create a vortex or messing with the egg during cooking! This means that when you need to cook for several guests, multiple poachers can be used to prepare as many eggs as needed at the same time! There was even a handy chart with suggested poaching times which is dead-on accurate. Cleanup is a breeze! I am ordering another set and won't poach any other way than with Good Grips. My only negative comment is that I will probably eat way more Eggs Benedict than I should now that it is so easy to prepare the eggs!" —JoeBT

    11. The easiest way to peel garlic is to crush each clove with the flat of a knife first. This trick is tried and true!

    BuzzFeed

    Learn more about this technique at Here's How You Should Actually Be Peeling Garlic.

    12. If knives frighten you (honestly, I get that) you can also use a silicone tube designed to easily peel garlic. Just pop the clove in the tube and roll it back and forth against the table or counter.

    A hand rolling garlic in a silicone tube
    Amazon

    It totally works!

    Get it from Amazon for $4.99.

    Promising review: "My husband surprised me this amazing garlic peeler. He didn't tell me what it was or what to expect. He just took a garlic clove and handed it to me with this peeler. My kids stood in silence as I tried the product. I rolled the clove in the peeler and three seconds later I had a peeled clove. We all screamed in amazement. I was shocked and amazed! I LOVE garlic but hate peeling so I had started buying pre-made crushed garlic in a jar which is not nearly as good as fresh garlic when cooking. Now I'm back to using fresh garlic thanks to this innovative garlic peeler. Its also lightweight and easy to clean!" —Crysta

    13. When making stir-fries or cooking in a frying pan, don't add garlic too early — it might burn or brown too much. Toss it in towards the end to let the flavor bloom quickly!

    A pan of the stir fry with chicken, mushrooms, and broccoli
    therecipecritic.com

    Learn more about this trick at The Kitchn!

    Check out this tip in action in the recipe for Garlic Chicken Stir Fry at The Recipe Critic (pictured above).

    14. Onions are amazing, but not all created equal. Don't buy sweet onions when you want to use shallots!

    The chart of onions
    Photo by Macey J Foronda / Chris Ritter

    Yes, it does matter what kind of onion you use, so learn which varieties to buy for which recipes!

    Sweet onions are best for frying. Use for: onion rings, gratins, and roasted veggies.

    Red onions are best for eating raw. Use for: guacamole, pickled onions, salads, and sandwiches.

    White onions are crunchiest and have the sharpest zing. Use for: salsas, chutneys, and stir fries.

    Yellow onions are the best all-around cooking onion. Use for: meat roasts, braised meat dishes, sauces, soups, and stews.

    Shallots are milder and more subtle. Use for: vinaigrettes, egg casseroles, and garnishes.

    15. When you're chopping an onion, make two horizontal slices before chopping down to keep it all together. Even if you're not keeping it all together yourself — I see those onion tears!

    BuzzFeed

    Need more details and GIFs? Check out Here's Everything You Need To Know About Chopping Onions.

    16. And use the ~claw hand~ technique to protect your fingers from your not-quite-Top Chef knife skills.

    A hand holding an onion with the fingertips curled under to protect them
    thekitchn.com

    Tuck your fingers in and maintain a firm grip on the vegetable. Learn more at The Kitchn.

    17. Put those chopping skills to the test and whip up some caramelized onions to improve ANY meal. Yes, it takes time, but yes, it is totally worth it.

    A pan of caramelized onions
    gimmesomeoven.com

    Check out the ultimate tutorial for caramelized onions at Gimme Some Oven.

    18. Know what kind of pan to use for what meals — cast iron for things you want to get a nice crust on (more on that in a bit) and nonstick for things like eggs or pancakes (foods you don't need to crisp up or sauces you don't want to get burnt on).

    The pan in sage green with steamer basket and spatula
    Our Place

    This ceramic nonstick Always Pan is a favorite of several people on the BuzzFeed Shopping team. It's designed to do the work of EIGHT pieces of regular old cookware if you've already reaaallllly run out of cabinet space. It comes with a lockable lid, steamer basket, pouring spout, and a nesting spatula with a built-in rest.

    Get it from Our Place for $145 (available in six colors)

    Promising review: "My always pan is going to be my new favorite cooking ware. Super versatile and absolutely beautiful. Love the functionality that it possesses and the versatility range, someone really thought about all the best way to cook with this! Safe, easy to clean, and beautiful to look at! Makes you want to cook more delicious meals all day long! Shipping took a while because I preordered, but I was happy to wait!" —Celyn V.

    Our Place is a POC-owned business based in Los Angeles. All of their boxes are packaged with biodegradable and recyclable materials, and the Always Pan is made in a female-owned factory in China.

    Check out a review from one of my BuzzFeed colleagues to learn more about this pan!

    19. Don't let the idea of seasoning and cleaning cast-iron pans intimidate you; they're one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen. Use them on the stove, pop 'em in the oven. They're basically indestructible — we're talking magic pans, folks.

    A diagram with tips on cast iron, listed below
    BuzzFeed

    We've got you covered — here's Everything You Need To Know About Cooking With Cast-Iron Pans.

    The basics? Never leave water in the skillet, use thin layers of oil heated past the smoke point to bond with it when seasoning, preheat it when you use it, and only use steel wool when bringing it down to the base layer. But if you do, you can always re-season!

    Looking for recipe ideas? Check out 21 Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes You Should Try.

    Still don't have one? Get a top-rated Lodge cast-iron skillet from Amazon for $24.04 (for an 8-inch; also available in seven other sizes).

    20. Stop overcrowding your pans. I mean it! The heat won't distribute evenly, and you won't get those lovely caramelized bits — no one wants bland chicken thighs.

    A cast iron pan with three caramelized chicken thighs
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    21. Learn how to perfectly cook a steak, including searing it (in a HOT, HOT, HOT pan) and then basting it with butter and herbs.

    buzzfeed.com

    I watched this GIF and suddenly I'm hungry.

    We've developed the ultimate guide for cooking several cuts of steak!

    22. Don't cut into your meat to check how done it is; you'll lose the juices! Try the ~meat done-ness hand test~ for perfectly pink results every time.

    Diagram showing how to use your hands to determine how meat is done
    Chris Ritter / buzzfeed.com

    The pad of flesh below the base of your thumb is your guide! When your hand is open, the pad feels like raw meat, when your index and thumbs touch, it feels like ratr, thumb and middle fingers touching feels like medium rare, thumb and ring touching feels like medium, and thumb and pinkie feels like (you guessed it) well-done.

    23. And on that note, you need to let your meat rest after cooking! It helps the juices settle and get reabsorbed, so they don't all come running out when you cut in. Mmm, tender.

    A steak being sliced
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    While it varies by cut of meat and recipe, the rest time is usually 10–20 minutes.

    24. As fellow fans of 90 Day Fiancé know well, cut your meat against the grain (or as Darcy likes to say, on the bias). It makes the meat easier to chew.

    Darcey telling Jesse "If you cut it on a slant, it stays juicy"
    TLC

    Learn more about this tip at The Kitchn.

    25. Unless you're making risotto, NEVER stir rice while you're cooking it! That's how it goes from fluffy to sticky and starchy.

    The header image for how to make perfect rice
    Zoë Burnett / BuzzFeed

    Other tips for making perfect rice? If you're making it on the stove, use a heavy-bottomed pot to prevent burning, and during the final stage, put a towel under the lid to avoid extra condensation making it mushy.

    Of course you can always use an Instant Pot ($79 from Amazon) or a microwave rice steamer ($24.99 from Amazon) for complete effortlessness.

    26. And grain-to-water ratios depend on what you're making; keep these handy and you can venture out to fun, different grains like farro and quinoa.

    A grain to water ratio with cooking instructions
    blog.goodeggs.com

    Keep this guide from Good Eggs (an organic grocery delivery site) handy!

    —Brown rice: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 30 mins

    —Basmati rice: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 20-25 mins

    —Steel-cut oats: 1 cup grains to 3 cups water, takes 30–40 mins

    —Wheat berries: 1 cup grains to 3 cups water, takes 40–40 mins

    —Sushi rice: 1 cup grains to 1 cup water, takes 20 mins

    —Farro: 1 cup grains to 4 cups water, takes 25 mins

    —Rolled oats: 1 cup grains to 2 cups water, takes 15-20 mins

    —Quinoa: 1 cup grains to 1 1/4 cups water, takes 25 mins

    27. When you're making pasta, once it's just about al dente, finish cooking it in the sauce, adding in some of the leftover pasta water. Your sauce will get silkier and will cling to the pasta *so* much better, making for a real Italian restaurant-quality dish.

    Pasta water being poured into a pan of pasta and tomato sauce
    Vicky Wasik for Serious Eats

    Get all the steps for perfecting your pasta at Serious Eats.

    28. And pair the right pasta with the right sauce for the best ~texture combos~.

    Chart of pastas and sauces
    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    —Skinny and long pastas (like spaghetti, linguini, and angel hair) go with light, olive oil–based sauces or cream-based sauces

    —Twisty shapes (like fusilli, gemelli, and rotini) go with light, textured sauces

    —Tubes (like penne rigatoni, and macaroni) go with thick, chunky, meaty sauces

    —Shells (like conchiglie) go with thick, textured meaty sauces

    29. Try your hand at roasting a whole chicken. It's easier than you think (we promise!), delicious, good for you, and cheaper than buying individual cuts, AND it makes THE BEST LEFTOVERS.

    The roast chicken
    Justine Zwiebel / Buzzfeed

    BuzzFeed's food editors tried EIGHT recipes to find you the best (and easiest!) roast chicken recipe of all time.

    Here's LITERALLY all the things you need: a chicken (duh), butcher's twine ($4.99 from Amazon), a roasting rack ($15.04 from Amazon), salt, and pepper. THAT IS IT!!!! No other ingredients, no other tools. SERIOUSLY.

    If you're looking into a reusable option when it comes to trussing up your bird, you can opt for silicone butcher's twine; get it from Amazon for $8 (for a pack of 25).

    Side note: When I'm talking about leftover possibilities for a roasted or rotisserie chicken, they're basically endless. And it's already cooked, so you can assemble a fun new meal on a weeknight.

    The header image for the recipe roundup, with sandwiches, bowls, and wraps
    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    Quesadillas, chicken salad, and fried rice OH MY! These are the joys that await you in 24 Easy Meals You Can Make With Rotisserie Chicken.

    30. Never buy salad dressing again — making your own vinaigrette is as easy as this ratio: one part vinegar/acid, two parts oil.

    Header image for salad dressings 101
    littlecoconutty.com

    Learn more about making your own dressings at Little Coconutty.

    Btw, you can just whip one up right in a handy salad dressing shaker with measurements printed on the side, an airtight seal, and a one-handed lever for easy pouring of your very own homemade vinaigrettes and dressings.

    The shaker, filled with vinaigrette in a fridge
    Amazon

    Get it from Amazon for $9.95+ (available in two sizes and two colors).

    Promising review: "Best salad dressing shaker ever! This is really a great product if you like to make your own dressings. I find that many bottled dressings are too salty and full of preservatives as well. Making your own is embarrassingly easy and saves you money as well. The wide mouth makes it easy to add the oil, vinegar, etc. and it also has a handy rubber grip in case your hands are slippery! Never buy salad dressing again!" —Ella Dedman

    31. If you're getting the hang of using your slow cooker, keeping in mind that the order you add your ingredients is important!

    theskinnyfork.com

    Add dairy ingredients later, because adding them too early might cause them to curdle. And when it comes to pasta and beans, add those last too, because you do *not* want them getting mushy.

    For more slow cooker info, check out 17 Genius Tips & Tricks For If You Own A Slow Cooker. And check out this recipe pictured here (it's slow cooker jalepeño corn chowder) at The Skinny Fork.

    Still don't have a slow cooker (first of all, really?). Get a six-quart programmable Crock-Pot from Amazon for $44.99.

    32. Don't sleep on the beauty of the Dutch oven. It's one of the most useful tools you have have in the kitchen for making one-pot dinners (aka tasty meal, basically no dishes).

    The teal dutch oven with handles and a chicken and rice dish inside
    Amazon

    This 5-quart enameled Crock-Pot Dutch oven is beautiful *and* loved by reviewers. Get it from Amazon for $54.99 (available in 12 colors and a 3-quart and 7-quart size).

    Promising review: "I am a big Le Cruset cookware fan and was considering paying the almost $300 for their Dutch oven. But I got this to see how often i would even use a Dutch oven before spending all that money on the name brand. Safe to say I will probably just skip spending the money on the name brand because I am so pleased with this purchase. The color is way prettier than any of the other colors out there and for this price, YOU CANNOT BEAT THIS DEAL. I would recommend this pot 20 times out of 10 if you are considering a Dutch oven. TRY THIS OUT YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS PURCHASE!!!" —Nicole Carter
    Need some inspiration? Let me show you right over to 18 One-Pot Dinners You Can Make In A Dutch Oven.

    33. If you're cooking only with EVOO, you're doing it wrong. Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point, so try other varieties (like avocado oil, which has a much higher smoke point) when stir frying or roasting.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R10PBVEPX9YLEI/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00K4QF4HO
    worldmarket.com

    Masterclass has a super-helpful rundown of which oils to use for what dish. Check it out here!

    And if you're looking for a suggestion, try the Chosen Foods avocado oil pictured above (it's the brand I use — they also sell big ole jugs at Costco as well). Get a 1-liter bottle from Amazon for $21.48.

    34. You should really be baking your bacon, not frying it in a pan. Why?? 1. It's easier to cook a bunch at once (the more bacon, the better) 2. It's wayyyyyyy less messy. 3. It stays flat rather than curling up (way better for using in sandwiches). 4. It cooks up perfectly every time! Without having to do any extra work!

    Five strips of raw bacon in a sheet pan
    food52.com

    Check out all the steps for the best baked bacon (try saying that five times fast) at Food52.

    35. Learn how to bake something in ❤️parchment paper❤️ for a no-fuss (and like, no dishes!) dinner. Yes it's basically the easiest way to cook fish, but you can totally make chicken, shrimp, veggies, and eggs in it too!

    The instructions for cooking en papillote
    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Take a 14"x12" rectangle of parchment paper, fold in half and cut into a heart shape (um, CUTE!), put your ingredients on one half of the heart, folding the other half over and crimp for a tight seal. You're ready to cook!

    ::Immediately clicks on 16 Parchment-Wrapped Dinners For People Who Hate Dishes:: These recipes include mains AND sides! Dinner = done.

    Get a box of 22 pre-cut parchment paper sheets from Amazon for $3.34 or a three-pack of parchment paper rolls from Amazon for $10.44.

    36. Amp up the moistness and flavor of standard chicken breasts by using a marinade. You can whip one up with as few as three ingredients!!

    A chart of three-ingredient marinades, with directions to combine with 1 pound of chicken, refrigerating 1-3 hours and baking at 400 degrees until cooked
    Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    This chart has a ton of suggestions, but you really just need 1/4 cup fat, 2 tablespoons acid, and 1-2 teaspoons salt. Mix it up however you'd like!

    Looking for something a little more impressive? We've got four-ingredient and five-ingredient marinades for you too!

    37. And don't over- or under-marinate. Match your protein to the chart below for just the right amount of flavor (and no sogginess) every time.

    The chart of marinating times
    BuzzFeed Life / buzzfeed.com

    —Fish and shrimp: 15 to 30 mins

    —Tofu: 20 mins to 12 hours

    —Chicken: 30 mins to 6 hours

    —Lamb, beef, and pork: 4 hours to 12 hours

    38. Combine butter and flour to make a roux, the base of tons of sauces (including bechamel, aka what you need to make a homemade and delicious mac 'n' cheese when you want to skip the boxed stuff).

    A whisk in a pan with roux inside

    39. Master the art of making the perfect grilled cheese so you can always feed a crowd (or just yourself) without having to whip up anything fancy. No matter what kind of bread or cheese you want, create your own *uLtImAte* blend.

    Emily Fleischaker / BuzzFeed

    Haven't been making your grilled cheeses with mayo? Now is the time to start. Thomas Jefferson voice: "If you don't know, now you know."

    40. Clean up as you go using a Rachael Ray-style countertop garbage bowl or a handy dandy hanging trash bag holder that'll attach to the outside of your cabinets for easy disposal as you chop and cook. You'll save time prepping, chopping, *and* most importantly, cleaning when you're done eating.

    Amazon

    Yes, she makes a branded garbage bowl. You can get it from Amazon for $16.99 (available in 11 colors).

    Get a pack of two of the hanging trash bag holders from Amazon for $11.99.

    Promising review (for the trash bag holders): "I love this product because Im always chopping vegetables and cutting up meat. I would be making several trips to the trash. Now I'm able to make meal prep quicker and easier and cleaner! A good way to use up some of those plastic bags from the grocery store too!" —Ellen Holcomb

    41. Still need some pointers? This bestselling book has all the ~truly basic~ techniques and recipes you need to impress a date... or your mom, who you can totally invite over for dinner now. It has over 1,000 photos, so you cannot screw this up.

    The cover of the book by Mark Bittman
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    The reviews for this are straight-up glowing.

    Get it from Amazon for $26.33.

    Promising review: "I just turned 25, and my lack of cooking skills was beginning to be embarrassing and unhealthy, so I began searching for a cookbook to help me out. I usually got recipes online, but they tended to be either too complicated or too expensive for someone who's not that well off. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book has turned my culinary life around. I cook pretty frequently now, and I basically exclusively cook out of this book. I'm going to list several things about this book that I like:

    * TONS of great tutorials for things like cutting up veggies, how to boil pasta the right way, etc. Along with these great helpers, every recipe includes page numbers to the relevant stuff, so you can easily flip back and forth to figure out how to do all of the mechanical stuff.

    * The recipes are arranged in each chapter from easiest to most difficult, so it's perfect for new cooks to build up their confidence.

    * The recipes are simple, and simple generally means cheap. It does NOT, however, mean flavorless. Everything I've made out of this book has been fantastic, even the super-simple chopped salad and homemade dressing.

    * The section on what tools/equipment needed in a kitchen has also helped me furnish my kitchen better.

    I would say that if you are a beginner cook, this book is absolutely the one to buy. It's affordable, well written, and will help you make fantastic food. Seriously. Look no further." —Patrick Rinker

    Listen to Chef Auguste Gusteau: Anyone CAN cook!

    Pixar Animation Studios

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