Weeknight Cooking

7 Easy Meals for Newly Minted Adults, From a Newly Minted Adult

May 21, 2018

Just a year ago, I was drowning in a purple robe. Someone a lot older and smarter than me called my name to a stage, handed me a piece of paper, and shook my hand. I moved a golden tassle from my right ear to my left one. It was all very strange and extravagant, but it made my mom cry so that was sweet.

Then, I was kicked to the curb. Gone was the comforting embrace of a class schedule, a professor who emails to "check in." Due dates gave way to rent week and job applications and just like that, I was—dare I say—an adult. As someone who suffers from perpetual Peter Pan Syndrome, the idea of growing up is repellant. But like paper cuts and being bad at singing, becoming an adult is just another fact of life, and sooner or later we all have to face the music. Right?


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Part of being an adult is providing for yourself. We’ve been doing it since caveperson days, and we do it now. That dining hall meal plan? Yeah, that’s long gone. Post-teen, meet the stove. This magical burning apparatus is gonna be your new best friend. It won’t help you study or invite you to the coolest weekend parties, but it'll keep you from going hungry.

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It’s only been a year since I began adulting, but I’m pleased to report it’s actually going pretty well. I’m no veteran, by any means, but I thought I’d pass on a few helpful, simple, and easy recipes—let’s call them no-brainers. (Because, let's face it, that's how I feel most of the time.)

First rule of business: Get yourself a jar of kimchi. Second rule of business: Make yourself this omelette. Breakfast, lunch, dinner? All three? Sure! Why not?

Canned chickpeas have become my fairy godparents. They're reliable and affordable and taste so dang good all the time. When I figured out they go great in pasta (the ultimate boo), it seemed too good to be true. Make this pasta with chickpeas, give yourself a carbo hug.

Hey there! Just because you're not in school anymore doesn't mean breakfast isn't still the most important meal of the day. Let's get those brain juices flowing. Before you go to bed, soak some oats (sooo cheap) in milk or almond milk or oat milk or whatever the heck we kids are drinking these days, and they'll be good to go in the morning—just like you.

I'll stop eating canned food—never. This salad rocks my socks because it's a bunch of goodies from cans poured into a bowl and then poured into my mouth. Nice, right? Yeah, you'll thank me later.

Nigella Lawson got me through my first year after college. Really. Her recipes are wildly simple and taste wildly good. This "traybake" is especially cool because you only get one dish dirty AND it uses frozen peas. So I'm a fan.

Peanut butter in noodles? Heck yeah. Get out banana's best friend and whisk it into a dressing for cold soba noodles. This one's great because you can eat it cold aka any time, any place you want.

Ordering takeout is totally chill and all, but if you really want to impress someone (or yourself! you matter too!) make this pork and broccoli at home. The investment is low—it's super easy—and the return is high.

What are the best things to cook when you're just getting started? Share your suggestions below.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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