A conglomeration of advice given to me by Friends, and what I found through Google and Reddit

Fundamental Knowledge

Cookware Metals, pros and cons

  • Non-stick: Cons: Dangerous chemicals, especially if you damage it with scratches of any kind or heat it to temperatures beyond what it’s designed for.  Strongly do not advise it.
  • Aluminum: Cons: consuming too much is bad for your health, and aluminum can leak into foods more so than other metals.  Aluminum is a toxin for the nervous system, immune system, and genetic system according to the US Agency For Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.  (Source)  Not advised.
  • [Hard-]Anodized cookware is Anodized Aluminum: Cons: it leaks less aluminum into your food than pure aluminum and is safer than non-anodized aluminum, but sometimes they coat the anodized layer with chemicals that are even more toxic for your health than the aluminum it is trying to protect you from. (Source)  Not advised.
  • Cast Iron: Pros: Extremely durable and heats evenly, and retains heat well. Do NOT cook acidic foods like wine, vinegar or lemon juice.  It is the choice for chefs who want to brown meats or fry food, and it leaks iron into the food which is good because it provides dietary iron.  It is good for causing the mallard reaction and caramelizing your meat.  Con: very heavy, and requires special care to clean and maintain: it needs to be hand washed and a coating of seasoning needs to be maintained.  Recommended
  • Carbon Steel: for specific uses like omlettes, woks, and crepes.  Iron mixed with Steel: lighter and thinner than Cast Iron, harder to maintain and clean (in fact you shouldn’t clean it unless absolutely necessary).
  • [Porcelain] Enamel: Does not conduct or transmit heat well, but retains it well so it is often paired with cast iron. Provides non-stick surface and makes cleaning cast iron easier if lined with enamel.  Recommended
  • Stainless Steel: non-reactive with foods, slow to heat up but easy to clean and wash.  The “easy solution” to choose if you don’t want to over think cookware. (Look for 18/10 for best quality)
  • Ceramic: Easy to clean, but chips easily and is not very durable.
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Guide
  • Amazon Top Picks for Pots and Pans


  • Look for riveted handles. Welded handles fall off with repeated use. Riveted handles should last a lifetime


  • Use weight–not volume–to measure ingredients for baking.
  • Grocery stores are designed for you to get lost in and hooked on deals, so go in with a shopping list and stick to it to avoid buying lots of things you don’t need.
  • Pick Navel Oranges based on Weight

Kitchen Items to Have

Usage Instructions

  • Wash Knife/Utensils when you go from raw to eatable food
  • Wooden Spoon is most versatile thing in kitchen, simply because you can use it on non-stick pans. If you use a stainless steel spoon on a nonstick pan, you’ll rub off the Teflon.
  • Simple, lightweight utensils such as wooden spoons, plastic ladles, spatulas are better for kitchen cooking. If baking or grilling, invest in steel utensils.

Pantry Items (* = optional):

  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tabasco/hot sauce
  • *garlic powder
  • *onion powder
  • *oyster sauce
  • *sirracha
  • *bbq sauce


  • Rice, pasta
  • Tuna fish


  1. Chicken          $1-1.50/lb
  2. Eggs                  $1-2/dz
  3. Pork Chops   $2-4/lb
  4. Beef Roasts: $3-5/lb
  5. Steaks:            $4-10/lb (How to Cook Steak)
  6. Fish:                  $6/lb for Salmon ($6 is if you’re lucky)


  • Butter
  • Sour Cream

“Complementary Vegetables”

  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots

“Solo Vegetables”

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplants
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans

Items best bought fresh:

  • Meat in general is cheaper fresh than frozen; chicken with skin is cheaper than chicken without; meat with bone is cheaper than meat without. You can boil the bone to make soup.
  • Carrots, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach
  • canned green beans

Sometimes Frozen: Cauliflower and Broccoli (lasts ~2 weeks)

For storage: freeze half the meat (will keep for ~7 days); leafy vegetables expire faster; onions/potatoes/garlic/eggplant last a long time.

Generic Meal: Once you get into cooking, it’s easy: pick a meat, some veggies, starch, seasoning,  style (roast, soup, stir fry, sandwich, etc.) and you’re good to go.  Base of any dish is garlic, oil, maybe onions.


  • Bacon = flavoring and oiling up the pan
  • bacon + egg
  • bacon + onion + garlic = grilled onions
  • bacon + spinach, etc.
  • Stir-Fry Vegetables — use bacon fat from cooking bacon or eggs to cook vegetables for flavor.
  • Salad greens + ranch + hardboiled egg + salad shrimp

To Cook Steak

Best way to cook a steak other than on a grill is with a cast iron pan. Oven to 400, heat up the pan. It should be smoking hot. Move it to the range on high and cook the steak ~90sec per side. Back in the oven for a minute or so. Pull it out and put it in some foil for 5min to think about what its done. Eat and enjoy.  Steak should go on at room temp seasoned as you like, and stay on the pan in the oven. if you dont like it rare keep it in the oven for another min.

To Cook Fish

  • Suggest marinate in soy sauce/lemon/basil for an hour or so
  • Then with deep dish pan layer the bottom with slices of onions, lay fish on top; cover 1/4th way up with soy sauce/lemon/water, lid on, steam it for around 15 minutes.
  • Or
  • Try high heat in pan, olive oil or butter, wait until it’s almost smoking, lay the fish down, don’t’ touch it (you’ll only flip it once) and while it’s still down, salt/pepper/squeeze lemon on the top
  • After 3 min, or when you see 1/2 edge cooked, salt/pepper/squeeze lemon on top.  When it looks done on the outside, take it out and rest it on a plate
  • In a different saucepan, sauté minced garlic and butter. Add some salt, lemon juice, and/or minced basil and sauté until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Take off the heat, drizzle the sauce over the fish, garnish with fresh parsley.
  • You want to caramelize the top like in the picture; the outside to be crispy and the inside to be cool.
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Crispy Salmon Recipe
  • How to Cook Polluck – Yahoo Answers

Example Egg Dish

  • 4-6 eggs in sauce pan, add 2 tbsp of butter
  • heat to medium, whisk while it’s cooking.  If it’s sticking to the pan too fast, take it off the heat and keep stirring, return to heat etc. etc. until it’s completely coagulated
  • When done, take off the heat, add 2 tbsp of sour cream, salt, pepper.
  • Can also add Parsley or chives or dijon mustard or tobacco, or pulled pork

Buy a Pork Shoulder Roast for $1.50-2.50/lb (4-6 lbs)

  • put it in the crackpot and add a can of root beer.
  • turn to low and wait 8h, finish with BBQ sauce.

Pasta 1

  • The key to good pasta sauce is to brown the meat.  Cook ground beef, then add it to pasta sauce.  Brown the meat means cooking with air flow so it hits the sugar on the outside and browns it, that’s where all the flavor comes in. So start with ground beef, add garlic, onions, and caramelize it without the sauce.  (the beef itself has sugar/protein).
  • Fancy = add tomato paste instead of sauce (less water).
  • Use wooden spoon to mix
  • Dump meat in at room temperature, and  break it up with your spoon in the pan
  • If you want to add subtle sweetness, add some red wine and let the alcohol burn off. Then you can add tomato sauce/whatever.  Cheese if you want to add, and let the flavors meld together.
  • Brown is good; red or pink is not good. It turns gray before brown.
  • Let the water steam off the meat–water is a heat sink that keeps the internal temperature even. When the water is gone, then the beef fries in its own fat: that’s browning, and that’s why it tastes delicious.
  • This is why you don’t just add the meat into the sauce.

Pasta 2

  • Saute garlic and boneless chicken.  Mix in Alfredo and then add spices like pepper.  Add sautéed spinach and/or broccoli if you can. 

Example Dinner

  • Boil rice
  • defrost chicken, rub with garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • bake chicken on a bed of onions and carrot chunks at 350F until it’s crispy and the insides are completely white (cut it to check)
  • Boil broccoli in saucepan in salted water until you can pierce the broccoli easily with a fork, drain, save the soup.
  • Add pepper or soy sauce or mustard to Broccoli
  • Serves:
  • Appetizer: Broccoli Broth
  • Main Dish: Roasted Garlic Chicken over Rice
  • Side Dish 1: Onion and Carrots, Roasted (with salt)
  • Side Dish 2: Boiled Broccoli with a drizzle of Soy Sauce

Example Dinner

  • Take a chicken thigh, marinate it in soy sauce and eat over rice for an asian dinner.
  • Rub it with garlic powder and cook in the oven, serving with potatoes and carrots, american dinner.
  • put in slow cooker with taco seasoning, you have pulled chicken tacos
  • curry powder with tomato sauce, you have indian curry

Braising (from the French “braiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.  You can braise in red wine, chicken broth; water + onion + carrot; or butter mustard vinaigrette. If you braise chicken in red wine and mushrooms and garlic, it’s called coq au vin, rustic French dish dating back to Julius Caesar.

Asian Food


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