Simple recipes for people who cannot cook

I am a middle-aged male who never learned to cook. I can make deviled eggs, a great chili and rocking fried rice, but anything else…not so much. I have recently been trying to cook some easy stuff with, lets say mixed results.

So, do you have any simple recipes that require only commonly found ingredients?

Not a recipe, but buy a programmable meat thermometer with a remote probe. That’ll reduce the amount of meat you destroy by about 90%.

There are probably thousands upon thousands of recipes out there that use commonly available ingredients. Can you narrow down the range of ingredients you like and have available to you? If you can, simply google recipies that include the ingredients you have on hand or can easily buy.

Cooking requires a little bit of planning. If you invest the time and have a little patience, there’s no reason you can’t learn new things very quickly. It helps if you enjoy food and cooking instead of eating it purely to sustain life.

Green curry.

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off into bite-sized chunks
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons green curry PASTE
2 teaspoons fish sauce
some oil - olive, vegetable, whatever

Vegetables of your choosing. I usually steam carrots and zucchini and maybe peppers in the microwave–cut into small pieces, put in bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with saran wrap, microwave for 6 minutes.

Get out frying pan. Put vegetable or olive oil in frying pan. Heat up to about medium. Add curry paste, roast for about 2 minutes, stirring, until it smells good.

Add coconut milk, chicken, fish sauce, steamed vegetables, heat on the stove until everything is warm and meshs together, about 15 minutes. No need to boil.

So easy, but you’ll feel so badass making it, and it’s NOT spicy. Just savory.

When you’ve mastered it, you can add fresh basil and steamed potatoes.

I dunno what level of cooking you’re thinking about so here’s a dead simple recipe.

Sweet and Sour Chicken w/ Veggies
1 lb chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 bag asian medley frozen vegetables
A bottle of sweet and sour sauce
Soy sauce

Mix a tablespoon of soy sauce with a tablespoon of cornstarch and toss the chicken in it. In a medium heat skillet pour a couple tablespoons of oil and once it’s hot, add the chicken. Cook until browned, moving occasionally. Add the bag of frozen vegetables and sweet and sour sauce to your preferred level. Add salt and pepper. Continue mixing occasionally. It’s done when the veggies are heated through.

This comes out looking and tasting like something you’d get in a restaurant but is ridiculously easy- it’s salmon with a sweet-ish glaze. Most exotic ingredients: apple cider vinegar (it’s with the other vinegar, which probably puts it with the salad dressing, at any grocery store) and stone-ground mustard (the kind with those brown round seeds in it, also available at any grocery store).

Put a rack on the top level of your oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Put these things in a saucepan:
1/4 cup of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of stone ground mustard
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (or olive oil)
A heaping spoonful of minced garlic

Boil the whole mixture until it’s thicker and about half its original volume- maybe 5 minutes or so. It doesn’t have to be anything exact, you just want something thick enough that some of it will stay on the fish when you pour it on.

Put a couple of salmon fillets in a baking pan. Pour the mixture above over it.

Put the pan on the top rack of the oven and bake it for 12-15 minutes. It should have lost its transluscence and be flaky when you poke it with a fork- I usually end up with one fillet with a big forkhole in it to make sure it’s done. Your top chefs don’t do this, but we’re not top chefs, now, are we?

You will probably get laid after preparing this dish for your special someone. It really is restaurant-quality, except for the part about the fillet with the stab wound.

This recipe came in a grocery store coupon circular; if you’ve got a slow cooker, it’s about as simple as they come. We tried it for the first time yesterday and it’s amazingly good for as easy as it is:

Three-Ingredient Chicken Tacos**
Five or six chicken breasts, frozen
One package taco seasoning
One 16-oz jar salsa

Place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker, cover with taco seasoning, then cover everything with the salsa. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with forks; serve on warm corn tortillas and whatever toppings (sour cream, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce) you like.

2 slices bread
tablespoon of peanut butter

Important - put peanut butter on one slice of bread and cover with other slice.

For variety, you can add banana or other fruits or honey on top of the peanut butter (but under the other slice of bread)

Why are you giving instructions on how to make 1/5th of a peanut butter sandwich??


I see at least three ingredients there that may not be commonly available.

Banana Fritters (Beyens in creole)


2 ripened bananas
3/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon melted butter

Frying Pan
Potato Masher


  1. Unpeel bananas and put them into a bowl.

  2. Use a potato masher to mash the bananas into liquidy chunks.

  3. Add vanilla extract and butter.

  4. Add flour and cinnamon.

  5. Whisk ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of pancake batter.

  6. Heat up a frying pan to medium fire and add 1 1/2 cup of oil.

  7. When oil is heated, add a table spoon of the mixture to the pan (1 table spoon for each fritter)

  8. Let the bottom of each fritter cook till brown, then turn them over with a fork and repeat.

  9. When finished, remove the fritters from pan onto a plate with napkins.

  10. (optional) Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top of the fritters.


Every store I’ve been in in the past 5 years has had an international section. Coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce are common enough that they’re there. If your store doesn’t have an international section then all bets are off.

My standard advice to anyone trying to teach themselves something:

Start with children’s books.

Instructions for adults tend to presume that grown-ups know everything, and only need education on the fine points. For clearly-explained rock-bottom basics – get a kids’ book.

Since he will no doubt mess the recipe up the first few times, I am trying to save him from wasting too much peanut butter - after he has perfected the skinny, he can increase the amount of peanut butter to his taste.

There are cookbooks for children?

I see 3 or 4 that I am indefinitely going to try. Thanks, and keep 'em coming!

Chicken and rice.

1 can cream of Mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 can cream of celery soup
1 cup of rice, I prefer Uncle Ben’s converted rice. I’m sure any will do.
Chicken breasts, I prefer boneless but any will do.

Combine the soups in a casserole dish with the rice, mix in some melted butter. Put the chicken breasts on top. Heat in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on how much chicken you’re using and the thickness.

Here’s an even easier chicken recipe. Just take some boneless chicken breasts and marinade them in Italian dressing, bake for 20 minutes or so. Serve with your side of choice and you’ve got dinner.

I make a soup a similar way. Just add some broth and (optionally) rice/quinoa/beans. Add a tub of sour cream or a brick of cream cheese when it’s done (after taking it off the heat) and serve with chopped onions.

Cut a couple of baby potatoes into slices or small chunks. Salt generously. Melt a slice of butter in a frying pan (skillet) over medium heat, and add potatoes. While they get started, peel a small onion (the size of a closed fist … Or half of a larger one) and cut or slice it the same way as you did the potatoes. Salt generously.

Add the onions to the potatoes and give everything a good stir. If you have a good lid, you can speed up the cooking by adding a few tablespoons of water or broth and clamp the lid on for a few minutes. Take the lid back off to let the moisture steam away, and then let the veggies start browning.

It’s done when the potatoes are soft through the middles and the cups edges are getting golden brown and crispy.

If you use oil instead of butter and skip the broth, it’s even vegan!

On the other hand, if you have leftover cooked meat such as ham or chicken, you can add it near the end to warm it through. Open a bag of premixed salad and you have a complete meal – cheap, simple ingredients, forgiving of mistakes or in attention, and satisfying without being too heavy.

You say you can make chili. I’m assuming you brown ground beef in a big pot, add liquid ingredients and seasoning, and let the whole thing simmer for a while?

If so, you can adapt that into things like pot roast or beef-and-vegetables stew. Brown pieces of chuck or another cheap, tough cut of beef in hot oil in your big chili making pot. Cut up pieces for a quick soup, a whole chunk for pot roast. Keep the temp so the meat browns but the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Take out the beef, and chopped onions, carrots, celery and maybe small potatoes and let them brown for a few minutes. Pour in a quarter bottle of red wine (the rest is for the chef!) and then add enough broth to come up about halfway up the side of the beef – I find that 50/50 chicken and beef broths works best.

Optional: add chopped garlic, and a couple of bay leaves if you have them.

Turn heat to medium low and let simmer until the beef is tender: maybe half an hour or so for small pieces for soup or stew, at least three hours for a whole cut of pot roast. If the latter, the veggie will break down into a thick sauce, so I like to add more fresh veggies, chopped pretty small, near the end so you get a mix of textures.

Add salt and pepper to taste (the broth will have made it somewhat salty already, so taste first) and serve over egg noodles or with crusty bread.