When you’re out on your own for the first time, all the responsibilities of adulthood can be overwhelming. Even if you’ve lived on your own for a long time, simple things like cooking healthy food can be lost in the shuffle of your hectic schedule. When you’re hungry and busy, it can be easy to simply grab the first thing that catches your eye. Unfortunately, living on takeout and frozen food is not only unsatisfying, it’s also not good for you.
When I was leaving home for the first time, one of my high school teachers gave me some advice. She told me that I should have several easy, healthy recipes I knew how to make, and that I should always have the ingredients I needed to make them. That way when I got hungry I wouldn’t resort to eating out or buying junk food. Even if you don’t have time to cook a fancy meal, you should always be able to make a simple and delicious recipe without having to go to the store. A little bit of planning and preparation will keep you healthier and happier when you’re living on your own or running your own household.
To help you achieve this goal, we’ve put together a list of our 15 favorite simple dishes you should know how to make.
1. Grilled Cheese
This dish may not seem like the healthiest option, but it can actually be a nutritious meal with a few substitutions. Replace the American cheese with cheddar, pick a high fiber bread, and use olive oil instead of butter. I like to put some tuna and onion in my grilled cheese for a tasty tuna melt.
2. Chicken Burritos
Everyone loves burritos, and they can be a healthy meal choice. Use black beans instead of refried beans, and white meat like chicken rather than beef for a tasty and heart healthy lunch. You can find a great recipe for burritos at Redefined Mom.
Chili is amazing because you can make it on the weekend and eat it all week. Pack it in serving sized containers and take it to work, or eat it in the evening if you don’t feel like cooking. I like to replace the beef with chicken or ground turkey. Try the recipe at Chow.
This is another meal you can make on the weekend and eat throughout the week, or you can just serve it to a big group. Lasagna is simple to make and feels wonderful on a cold evening. Try this vegetarian version from Food Network.
A classic breakfast dish, omelettes are delicious and good for you. The beauty of an omelette is that you can pretty much put anything you want in it. Get a basic omelette recipe at Epicurious.
6. French Toast
Speaking of breakfast foods, french toast is another standby you should know how to make. It is incredibly simple to make. All you need is a few slices of healthy, high fiber bread, a few eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and milk. Find a recipe at McCormick.
Pasta is a great meal to have ready to make because it is really cheap and filling. You can use pasta sauce from a can, or you can make your own for an easy culinary treat. Try a few sauce recipes from Rachael Ray.
8. Tomato Soup
This can be paired with a warm grilled cheese sandwich, or eaten by itself. It may be tempting to make tomato soup from a can, but making your own will probably taste much better. Try this recipe from Fine Cooking.
9. Banana Bread
I have many fond childhood memories of coming home to warm banana bread. Turns out, it is really easy to make, and it’s a fairly healthy dessert or afternoon treat. Find a recipe at Simply Recipes.
10. Mac and Cheese
This is a classic meal you might be tempted to make from the box. Making mac and cheese from scratch is actually not that much more difficult, and is much more delicious. Find from great recipes at Taste of Home.
Homemade pizza can actually be a healthy alternative to takeout. Plus, it’s a ton of fun to make your own pizza at home. Start with this easy pizza dough recipe from NY Times, then top your pizza with all the healthy sauces and toppings you want and put it back in the oven until it’s golden brown.
It may sound like a fancy dish, but risotto is actually really eat to make. Add some chicken for extra flavor and texture, and you’ll have a hearty meal on your hands. Try this recipe from Epicurious.
13. Caesar Salad
You should always make sure to get lots of healthy greens in your diet, and Caesar salad is an easy and tasty way to do that. Get recipe from Bon Appetite.
14. Roast Potatoes
This recipe makes a great compliment for any meat dish, and is super easy to make. Your guests will all want a second helping. Get the recipe at Good To Know.
15. Chicken Curry
If you’ve ever enjoyed a takeout chicken curry, you should absolutely try making it yourself at home. Serve your homemade chicken curry over a bed of rice for a warm meal you’ll love. Get a great recipe at Good To Know.