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15 Kitchen Skills To Master By The Time You're 30

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2. How to cook pasta perfectly.

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Three important things to remember:

1) Salt your water! Don't be shy here — this is key, as it will flavor the noodles aka the entire base of your dish.

2) Stir the noodles occasionally so they cook evenly and don't stick together.

3) Drain the pasta at the right time so that it's al dente — not too hard, not too soft.

3. And how to make a killer sauce that isn't straight out of a jar.

Start with a super easy tomato sauce — like this classic version by Marcella Hazan that proves you don't need a laundry list of ingredients to make something rich and delicious. (In this case: only tomatoes, butter, onion, and salt.)

Then move on to more detailed sauces, like an ultimate red sauce spiked with wine, or this fancier carbonara made with creamy squash, bacon or pancetta, and lots of cheese.

4. How to bake incredible cookies from scratch.

Listen, I'm the first to admit that I'll never refuse a fresh batch (or four) of Nestle Toll House cookies. But there's ~also~ something to be said about making your own glorious bites from scratch every now and then. Totally worth it.

Recipe: The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

6. How to store your fruits and vegetables correctly.

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Because you can't get really get a jump start on anything else unless your kitchen basics — like food storage and organization — are in check.

More info: This Is Exactly How To Store Your Groceries

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7. How to slow cook like a pro.

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Confession: I discovered slow cookers during my senior year of college, and haven't stopped using them since. There's something that'll never get old about the ease of tossing ingredients into a pot, doing your own thing for a few hours (whether that's studying for finals or binge-watching Netflix), and coming back to a meal that has basically cooked itself.

Recipes: Spicy Slow Cooker Carnitas | 27 Tasty Crock Pot Recipes You’ll Make Again And Again

9. How to make healthier swaps when you want to.

Whether's it's quick ingredient substitutions (like trading maple syrup for fruit), or experimenting with better-for-you alternatives when you're craving something sweet (like making soft serve out of frozen bananas) — the more swaps you have in your arsenal, the better.

Info & recipes: 27 Very Easy Ways To Eat Healthier | How To Make Creamy Banana Soft Serve

11. How to make a meatless meal that even carnivores will love.

Meatless Monday is a great thing to adopt — even if only for a month or so — because a) it challenges you to think creatively beyond meat, and b) it's almost always cheaper to cook without meat. (Which, TBH, is the reason I started doing it.) Easy MM staples that I never get tired of: veggie lo mein, spicy black bean tacos, creamy mushroom pasta, and vegetable stir-fry.

More recipes: 15 Delicious Pastas With No Meat | 30 Quick Vegetarian Dinners To Try

12. How to toss together a great marinade.

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Marinades are one of the simplest ways to dress up meat and infuse it with more flavor. The building blocks of a solid one are fat + acid + salt — but you can (and should!) experiment.

Recipes & more info: 31 Brilliant Ways To Dress Up A Pound Of Chicken | 24 Delicious DIY Sauces You’ll Want To Put On Everything

14. How to make a salad that doesn't suck.

Often, the key is an awesome homemade dressing. The two pictured above — a DIY balsamic vinaigrette and a tangy miso one — are great, easy starters. Three other things to try to work into your salads: something that's crunchy, something that's creamy, and something with protein — which will help keep you fuller, longer.

15. How to meal prep to save time and money.

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Meal prep can take as little or as much time as you want it to — whether it's quickly making a big batch of frozen breakfast smoothies that you can then grab in the mornings; or taking a few hours on Sunday and making lunch for the entire week. Along the way, you learn to get super efficient with your time (and often your money, because you can buy in bulk). Also, when it comes to prepping? Future You will thank Past You every single time.

More ideas: Here's How To Master Your Weekly Meal Prep | Here’s Exactly How To Meal Prep For Lunch This Week

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