Food

These Beginner Dinners Will Teach You How To Cook

Here’s your crash course on how to make easy, homemade meals — complete with step-by-step videos, full recipes, and more.

Photos by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

2. Sometimes, making dinner can suck.

It can be expensive, time-consuming, and the last thing you want to do after a long day of work or class.

Columbia Pictures

But it doesn’t ~have~ to be that way — especially if you have a go-to batch of weeknight dinner staples in your arsenal.

We’re talking easy, budget-friendly meals that you can actually look forward to and make in your own kitchen. We created the seven recipes below with all of those things in mind.

If you’re a beginner cook, we’ve got step-by-step photos, videos, and original recipes to guide you through. If you already know your way around the kitchen, we hope you’ll pick up another staple or two to add to your favorites.

6. Four things to know about these recipes:

1. They’re scaled for two. All recipes make two servings, except for the chili and carnitas, which make about six. (If you’re feeding more than two people, you can double or triple the recipes as needed.)

2. They all have step-by-step videos. And you don’t need fancy equipment or five-star technique to follow along. If you can chop stuff, mix stuff, and turn on the stove or oven, you can make these meals — and the videos will show you exactly how.

3. They’re healthy-ish. We’re all for getting your greens, but we’re also for topping things with cheese. That’s why these recipes are customizable, and you can tailor each one depending on how and what you like to eat.

4. They all have a key kitchen takeaway. And each takeaway is something that we hope will help fuel future dinner adventures. If you try any of these recipes out, show us! Tag #BuzzFeedDinners.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

8. 1. Learn how to use spices you already have to amp up flavor.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT YOU’LL MAKE:
Hearty, flavorful chili packed with protein and fiber — thanks to ground turkey and kidney beans — that you can customize with your favorite toppings.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Easy prep: Just chop veggies, brown meat, add spices, then let everything simmer.
Minimal cleanup: Everything cooks in the same pot, and the only other tools you need are a knife, stirring spoon, and can opener.
Lots of leftovers: Our recipe makes six servings. (And chili freezes well, so you can save a batch for later.)

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

10. 2. Learn how to make a simple pan sauce for pasta.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS:
A (slightly!) lightened-up version of a rich, comforting pasta dish. This version cuts the creamy, Parmesan-based sauce with a bit of chicken broth, and tosses in some fresh greens.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Secret sauce: The key ingredient here is perfectly sautéed, golden-brown mushrooms — which we’ll teach you exactly how to make. They’re a great, budget-friendly way to add rich, savory depth to sauces for less than the cost of actually adding meat.
Vegetarian-friendly: To make this fully veg, swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth, and the Parmesan for homemade vegan Parm.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

12. 3. Learn how to make super tender meat using a slow cooker.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS:
Tender, spicy pork — kicked up with a rub of chili powder and Sriracha — that cooks low ‘n’ slow in the Crock Pot.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Lots of leftovers: Our recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.
Super versatile: Besides tacos, you could also try the pork scooped over rice, stuffed into a pita, piled over nachos, or on its own.
Weekday-friendly: The 10-hour cook time means you can turn on the slow cooker before you leave for work in the morning. When you come home, you’ll have perfect pork that’s ready to shred.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by-step video | Pin it for later

14. 4. Learn how to make breakfast for dinner.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS: A baked one-pan egg dish that’s hearty enough to eat for dinner.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Budget-friendly: This recipe clocks in as the cheapest dinner in the batch: just eggs, vegetables, and cheese.
Foolproof eggs: You don’t have to worry about overcooking or undercooking the eggs because everything bakes off in the oven.
Mix ‘n’ match fillings: We used sweet potatoes to make this filling enough for dinner, but just about any firm veggies (broccoli, red peppers) would work, too. You can also add meat if you’re fine with upping the price tag — chunks of ham or crumbled bacon on top would be great.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

16. 5. Learn how to use one sheet pan to cook fish and veggies at the same time.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS: A healthy 20-minute dinner that pretty much cooks itself.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Foolproof fish: This is an ideal starter method for anyone who’s not super comfortable cooking fish. The oven does all the work.
Easy prep: Chop the veggies, season the salmon, then toss everything into the oven.
Going green: Not a kale fan? This version — where it’s seasoned, then crisped up in the oven until it’s crunchy like potato chips — might just convert you.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

18. 6. Learn how to bake perfect chicken.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS: A classic meat ‘n’ potatoes sheet pan dinner dressed up with homemade honey-dijon and herbs.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Minimal prep + cleanup: Veggie prep is done in all of five minutes. And just like the salmon dinner, the meat and vegetables cook at the same time, all on one sheet pan.
Winner, winner: Easy chicken dinners FTW.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

20. 7. Learn how to make leftover veggies taste amazing with a three-ingredient sauce.

Photo by Lauren Zaser / Design by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

WHAT IT IS: Homemade starter stir-fry that’s even better than takeout — and better for you, too.

Alvin Zhou / BuzzFeed

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

 

WHY MAKE IT:
Mix ‘n’ match ingredients: Stir-fries are one of the best (and easiest!) ways to use up any leftover veggies you might have in the fridge.
Sauce staple: The simple DIY glaze — of soy sauce + lime + honey — will be one of your new favorites.

MORE INFO: Full recipe & instructions | Step-by step video | Pin it for later

Find our picks for beginner dinner cookware and kitchen tools here.

Recipes by Christine Byrne; Photos by Lauren Zaser; Videos by Alvin Zhou; Design by Alice Mongkongllite; Art Direction by Brian Madigan.

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