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Dec 17, 2007 04:25 PM

Cookbook for college kids [Moved from Food Media and News]

Anyone have a good recommendation for a good, back to basics cookbook for new apartment/house dwellers (just out of the dorm)?

It needs to be simple:

not so many steps
not require obscure or hard to get ingedients
not require a lot of prep time
cover all the basics
Must have with illustrations or pictures for those without the experience to picture what the ingredients will amount to


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  1. There's a series of cookbooks called "365...", as in "365 Ways To Cook Chicken", "365 Easy Italian Recipes", etc. that has several different books in the series. I had several of them in college and really enjoyed using them - most of the recipes are pretty basic and written in easy language. Alas, there are no photos, but I wouldn't let that scare you off - the directions really are easy to follow.

    Here's the link to one I found on Amazon, just so you can see what I'm talking about:

    1. I'd recommend an old copy (the red binder) of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. The newer one isn't bad either. Also, there's the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.

      Just go down to the local bookstore and thumb through a few of the general topic cookbooks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dave_c

        My son really liked having Jamie Oliver's books - lots of things that are easy to make and lots of pictures. He has a new book - Cook with Jamie that's excellent too (son's getting it for Christmas ;)

        1. re: dave_c

          Ditto this -- even better if you can find a compact/paperback version. My mom gave me one 15 years ago that is held together by a rubberband, but it was great because it had all the basics and was portable. It went with me to college, to a year abroad, to multiple apartments and weekends away at somebody's cottage.

        2. Mark Bittman's book "How to Cook Everything" is great for a first time cook. It covers all the basics in clear language. No photos, but there are illustrations with most of the instructional text.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            While Bittman's book is great for a first time cook, I would caution against giving it to a college student who has little to no interest in cooking and is only doing it for practicality's sake. This stems from the fact that, from a purely visual standpoint, the book (at least that yellow hardback one that I know of) looks and feels like a textbook - actually, I think it may be thicker than any of my bio books ever were.

            And yes, I know that this is a strange piece of advice.

            1. re: Ali

              Heh heh. I actually know exactly what you mean -- the thing's enormous. I guess I should have caveated my recommendation with the statement, "it's great for a first time cook that WANTS to learn to cook".

          2. My very first cookbook in college was 'Cookbook for College Kids' by Sheila McDougall and I would recommend it to someone starting out. It has a lot of good basic information and the ingredients required are easy to find. It taught me how to make a roux, homemade salad dressings, pancakes from scratch, simple baked goods, etc. Not everything is illustrated but there are some photos. I did an on-line search and see that you can get it at Target for $11.

            1. I have no idea if it's still in print, but Mitchell Davis' "Cook Something" would fit the bill. It's written in a very chatty style, has great basic recipes and guides a novice cook through setting up a basic kitchen, ingredients, etc. I bought this one right out of college and used it for years. I also love Marion Cunningham's "Learning to Cook" and still use it regularly - it has the best basic recipes and tells you exactly how to make them even if you've never cooked before.