The top 20 meals Americans can make without using a recipe

Frankly I was expecting the number one answer to be cold cereal and milk.

I read the list before the intro and thought it meant that only 34% of the respondents were able to make toast without using a recipe.

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New York Post for the win! I swear I can’t remember when that happened, but it did.

FWIW, I think poached eggs can be tricky.


ALL those top four dishes are potentially tricky IMO . So many people routinely overcook eggs. That’s why my remark about the cold cereal wasn’t entirely a joke.

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That was a fun, quick and easy read.

My gut feeling is that the results were strongly influenced by how this data may have been collected (the article doesn’t say how it was collected). The poached egg commented on above is a prime example. I’m guessing that 44% of respondents “say” they can cook a poached egg without a recipe because they know in theory it is just an egg in water . . . but my guess is that most of those 44% couldn’t actually pull it off - especially since the top “most intimidating kitchen tool” is a spatula . . . .

And mac and cheese is tricky in all honesty - especially for a less experienced home cook, especially to do without a recipe . . . unless they mean they can cook it from a box . . . .

Still enjoyed the read.


The idea of the spatula being intimidating immediately made me think of Drew Magary’s rants against BIG SPATULA in his Hater’s Guides to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog over the years.


Intimidating kitchen tools

  1. Spatula 33 percent

This surprised me.


Seriously. If a spatula and measuring cups are “intimidating”, the mind (or at least my mind) boggles at what would constitute a “non-intimidating” kitchen tool… Though I guess for the “post-microwave” generations, pressing the “popcorn” button on a microwave probably isn’t very scary…:laughing:

On the other hand, I’m a little surprised that 41% of the survey-ees apparently claimed to remember (essentially) the ratio of milk/cream to eggs for French toast…:grin: Unless they don’t count “refreshing their recollection” of that  as “using a recipe”…?


It bears noting that that being “able” to make something “without a recipe” doesn’t necessarily mean making it well:wink:

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Yeah, definitely, I would really love to know how the survey defined “making” some of these things… I find it extremely suspicious that 36% of the respondents claimed to be able to “make soup” without a recipe, and 33% “make beans”, yet only 29% can cook bacon, and 25% can “grill” a steak without a “recipe”?!

Looked through the list twice. Came away with the thought: Those aren’t meals, they’re items…


Agreed. Those aren’t meals.
And the idea of a cooking oil sponsoring a cooking healthy foods survey is amusing.

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Nice fluffy clickbaity content that worked on 113 people on this site alone. Well done Mazola.

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I can’t believe they count toast as a “meal” or that people are intimidated by a spatula.

Oh man.

Over a third of Americans have felt judged about their cooking skills, according to new research.

This set off my “snowflake detector,” unusual for the New York Post. Jeepers. No insight into poll methodology or target. I’m betting from the responses it was young people. Which leads to a rant. You can just scroll past - I won’t be offended.

Back in the 80s and 90s some bastion of political correctness noted that home economics was filled with girls and industrial arts (shop) was filled with boys. Instead of working to get boys into home ec and girls into shop they turned up their collective noses and over just a few years we lost those life skills experiences for young people.

Evidence: the flood of questions that peak in late summer each year on food-related social media and fora “I’m going to college and can’t feed myself.” “I just graduated college and don’t know what to do without a meal plan.”

Remember that home ec included more than learning to cook: budgeting, meal planning, shopping, organization, sewing. Shop was a lot more than building lopsided book cases: skills that lead to changing a tire, hanging a curtain rod, fixing a door, and much more. It is past time for us to stand up and say, loudly, “we made a mistake and need to fix it.”

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

I’m sure we can make some time in student schedules by canceling some sensitivity awareness thing.

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Rant continues:

Who needs a recipe for a fried egg? For grilled cheese? Just wow.

We can have a spirited discussion about the relative merits of different ways to toast bread but a recipe?

I’m betting that “soup” is what comes in a red and white can and “mac & cheese” comes in a blue box.

This has clearly wound me up.

While blaming school for any number of reasons why there are def. less practical life skill classes in favor of tech, sports and other federal/state funded core, where are the parents/guardians of these very fertile growing brains? Every excuse in the world avail addressing the availability of time doesn’t explain the need to eat daily and making an egg or toast is still a decent value on the weekly food budget. Even WaWa has a public toaster.

I agree. Parenting is an issue. Structured instruction in school however is a big deal to those growing minds.

I remember Home Ec homework to cook for your family which is a wonderful opportunity for feedback from engaged parents. N.B. I’m male. I took Home Ec because that was where the girls were, and I ran out of math classes.

We can only hope that there were girls taking shop because that’s where the boys were.

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Almost Foolproof Microwave Poached Eggs:

  • Take a round-bottom bowl, put in 1/2 cup of water (for one egg) or 3/4 cup (for two eggs.)
  • Crack the egg(s) into the water
  • Put in the microwave with a light cover over it (plastic plate, paper towel, etc.) (This is because it’s only almost foolproof.)
  • Cook for ~50 second for one egg, or 90 sec for two. (Your Microwave May Vary; that seems about right in mine which is probably 1100 watts.)
  • Scoop the egg out of the water.