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It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve stepped foot in the kitchen, cooking—and cooking well—can feel like an unconquerable task. Complex recipes always seem to look better on Pinterest than they do in real life, and even simple dishes can be hard to master. (I can’t be the only one who’s burned butter, right?)
But that’s no reason to give up. Instead of pushing the idea of cooking an edible meal to the back of your mind, why not take some time to learn the basics? Here, we’ve put together a selection of cookbooks for beginners—novices who, try as they might, just haven’t gotten the whole cooking thing down yet.
On this list, you’ll find a book for all kinds of cooks: budget-conscious cooks who want their deals to cost $5 or less, stress-prone cooks who don’t want to juggle more than five ingredients at a time and many, many more. Study up, and maybe you’ll find the confidence (and knowledge) you need to become a straight-up chef (well, eventually).
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1. Five Ingredient Cookbook
Trust me when I say you’re not the only one feeling put off by long lists of complicated steps and ingredients. The Five Ingredient Cookbook remedies this problem by doing exactly what the name suggests—maxing out each recipe at five ingredients. And after making a couple of these recipes, you’ll notice the simplicity and great taste aren’t mutually exclusive.
2. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
It sounds unbelievable but Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day will teach you that the key to great food in the kitchen is a skill—not a high grocery bill. You might think that such a tight budget will result in nothing more than a plate of beans, but in reality, you’ll be enjoying delights such as spicy pulled pork, vegetable jambalaya, and bean ragu.
3. The “I Don’t Know How To Cook” Book
For anyone who has ever said out loud, “I don’t know how to cook!” comes this despair-answering cookbook. Stuffed with hundreds of delicious recipes designed for those who feel out of the know, this crash course in cooking will have you creating shepherd’s pie, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and stuffed green bell peppers.
4. The Can’t Cook Book
Brought to you by a former #1 New York Times bestselling author, The Can’t Cook Book is here to tell you that if you’re smart enough to send emails, drive a car and work your TV, you can cook, too. Whether you find cooking intimidating, time-consuming or all kinds of overwhelming, the calm, confidence-building tone of this cookbook will have you creating kitchen concoctions in minutes.