I moved out when I was 18 and lived off macaroni & cheese and Top Ramen. It's a common story. Eventually you're going to need to learn to cook. It's healthier, cheaper and tastes better. Here's what you need to know:

My mother taught me to cook. My first lesson: don't cook everything on "high." I thought if I stirred fast enough I could cook everything on "10." No. Be patient and apply the correct amount of heat.

If your mother doesn't live nearby, here's everything she would tell you:

  • 1

    Recipes are guidelines when cooking. Recipes are scripture when baking.

    You can substitute carrots for potatoes, sage for rosemary, oil for butter, etc. when cooking. NEVER EVER EVER stray from the recipe when baking. Some really sophisticated food chemistry goes into baking.

  • 2

    You can always add more salt later, but you can never remove any

  • 3

    Meat should be added to a hot pan

    The exception is ground meat or thinly-sliced meat. Everything else should be seared immediately to seal in the juices. Otherwise you end up with dry meat.

  • 4

    Clean up as you go, don't let your sink fill up

  • 5

    Buy garlic and put it in anything

    I think the ONLY time I ever added "too much" garlic was when I double layered it. Otherwise, you can never add to much garlic. Add a little to EVERYTHING savory. Trust me.

  • 6

    Never buy shredded cheese. Invest in a shredder.

  • 7

    Preheat pan for pancakes

    Drip water on the pan. When it sizzles the pan is ready.

  • 8

    Always taste as you go

  • 9

    Rachel Ray is right: have a garbage bowl

    It makes cleaning up after so much easier.

  • 10

    Rinse dishes as you go to save hours later