The top 20 meals Americans can make without using a recipe

Oh shoot! I LOVE geeking out about how to cook perfect poached eggs!
Maybe I can geek out on what a round bottom bowl is.
Jk. Thanks! I might make some right now, to go with some roasted mushrooms.


I recall one girl in my shop class. She did well. The boys were a little nonplussed and left her alone, which was probably better than the teasing I got in Home Ec. This was all junior high 1972-75 and so better I expect than it would be in high school. My junior high had the best shop in the state and a pretty good Home Ec. When I got to high school my guidance counselor and the shop teacher told me that after my junior high experience they didn’t have anything to offer. The only industrial art of any substance we didn’t get was welding and I got that in college. Cooking was pretty basic. I really learned to cook from public television.

I don’t have any trouble cooking 19 out of 20 on the list without a recipe. Pancakes I’d have to look up and I always double check baking powder and baking soda because I have been known to mess those up. None of the kitchen tools on the list are intimidating although I think one or two are silly.

Poached eggs I make in a pot, same as rice. Nothing fancy. Frankly I simply don’t cook in our microwave - heat things or reheat things but not cook. I took the microwave out of my boat as the space was more useful for storage. Now I have that tiny microwave in my lab/office that mostly gets used for the clock. grin

Ditto but mostly watching until college, married life. My family tried but I wasn’t paying enough time and attention to cooking when I was a kid.

I (a female person) took shop because it was required for all students - as was home ec - when I was in junior high, in the mid-1970s. I made a miter box and a shadow box. I very much doubt that “political correctness” is to blame for those courses being less common now. It’s much more likely that schools can’t pay for them anymore, which is why other elective subjects, like art and music, are also much scarcer than they used to be.


Here’s hoping that your school has the same requirements today. Our society diminishes itself by tolerating its schools lowering standards, substituting indoctrination for curriculum, and overlooking that K-12 success depends on both families and students.

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I’m 2020, these arguments to return to the 1950’s seem a bit quaint, like watching a Leave It To Beaver episode.
I’m not convinced that the underlying screed declaring all kids today as unknowing and uncaring of life skills is at all true.


This should warm Dave’s heart :purple_heart:


It does, but only a little. An “entire day” does not impress me. Fine - check the oil, check the power steering fluid, check the coolant, change a tire, know where the fuse block(s) is/are, put air in the tires. How about change the oil? Even if you aren’t a DIY it makes you a better, more educated customer. Do you understand what a circuit breaker does; not how they work but what they DO? How about GFI? What can you really learn about cooking, planning, budgeting, and shopping in a day?

It just isn’t enough.

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Okay - I took us off the reservation, so I’ll try to get back. That doesn’t mean I won’t rant, just rant on topic.

Eggs over easy: 49 percent

How hard (ha!) is this? Sure you can mess it up, but who needs a recipe?

Scrambled eggs: 46 percent

This just irritates me. Again, you can mess it up but a recipe won’t help. If you can’t scramble eggs you should not be allowed to cross the street without adult supervision.

Hard boiled eggs: 44 percent

Even simpler than scrambled eggs. Sure - green sulfer rings, rubber results, again recipes are really not the answer. I want to see hard cooking eggs on the test for driver’s licenses.

Poached eggs: 44 percent

Someone needs to learn how to do this but you shouldn’t need a recipe every time. Pot. Water. Egg. Everything else is a fun discussion at the local pub.

French toast: 41 percent

Once learned if you can’t remember how to make French toast I suggest medical evaluation.

Soup: 36 percent

I’m making assumptions here - open a can and heat it in a pot. Something complicated then okay, I’m in. But that doesn’t seem to be where this list comes from.

Grilled cheese: 36 percent

Again, a nice discussion at the pub about options. Toast the insides before assembly and grilling? Tomato? How thick? What kind of cheese? Sliced or shredded? Onion? Saute first or not? A recipe for slapping Kraft American processed cheese food between two pieces of Wonder Bread? No.

Pasta: 36 percent

Another pub discussion. No recipe for bunging a bunch of pasta in boiling water for 12 minutes?

Rice: 36 percent

I’m just going to repeat myself.

Salad: 36 percent

More repetition.

Toast: 34 percent

I have nothing to offer suitable for genteel or mixed company. Note that I did start a thread to discuss making toast but a recipe?

Beans: 33 percent

Another assumption. But again, open can, bung into pan, heat. Does that rise to the level of a recipe. Even soak beans, drain, rinse, cook - not much of a recipe is it.

Pancakes: 31 percent

Pancakes are on the edge of baking and the ratios are important. Unless you make them often enough to memorize the numbers looking it up is okay. I make pancakes twice a year. I just don’t remember.

Roasted chicken: 30 percent

Now we’re back to stupid simple. Bung it in an oven in a pan at 350F. We can talk about times and specific temperatures but you can cook pretty much anything at 350F.

Mashed potatoes: 29 percent

Once learned, always remembered.

Bacon: 29 percent

Another pub discussion. Pan, oven, microwave, whatever. You can drape bacon over a stick and hang it over a wood fire.

Grilled vegetables: 27 percent


Tacos: 27 percent

C’mon down to the pub and we’ll have a chat. You won’t ever need a recipe again.

Mac and cheese: 26 percent

First you make a roux. You add milk for a bechamel. You add shredded cheese for a cheese sauce. Bung that together with cooked elbow macaroni (see above). Back to the pub to talk about baked. Once only, no recipe.

Grilled steak: 25 percent

My mind simply reels. Somewhere between mooing and shoe leather is what you’re after. Pepper and heat and you’re done.


What’s a lawn? Also grinning.

I totally agree about the value of these basic life skills, but feel so fortunate that I get to prioritize what I want to prioritize for my fortunate “kids”. My daughter is trying to live where I grew up in Queens and is exploring what I call “how to cook kits”, and I’m thrilled.

I worry that some school districts I work with now, have to choose between these skills, and ones that make kids successfull in other markets.

I think I like choices.