How Do I Adult: Cooking

Continuing with my experimental “How do I adult?” series, I thought I would tackle cooking. I am only at level 3 cooking myself, so that is as far as I can describe to you. If you are trying to figure out how to adult in terms of meals, this might be helpful to you.

Reminder to everyone: It’s ok to ask for help! Whether you are asking or being asked, please don’t treat the question as something that anyone should be ashamed of. If we didn’t get the help we needed to learn these things when growing up, we should still be able to get help to learn these things as adults, and we should be able to do it without feeling ashamed.

Level 1: Sandwiches and the microwave

If you are completely at a loss on how to make food for yourself and find yourself always dependent on other people to make your food for you, this is probably the easiest place to start.

Things to have

Microwave-safe dishes: a bowl, a plate, and maybe a casserole dish
Eating utensils: a butter knife, a fork, and a spoon


I think microwavable meals are the easiest way to get into feeding yourself. Many microwavable foods are not necessarily the healthiest choices out there, but it is food and you will eat. Options for foods to microwave include noodle bowls, canned pasta, and small frozen pizzas. They will all have microwave directions on them – simply follow the directions using your microwave-safe dishes if necessary, and you will have food!

Edited to add: E (The Third Glance) has reminded me that I really must explicitly point out – no metal in the microwave! No utensils, no aluminum foil, no metal dishes, and no dishes with metal trim. No metal WHATSOEVER goes in the microwave.

To get a bit more healthy, look in the frozen vegetables section of your grocery store (is this overwhelming? Don’t worry, a grocery shopping post is in the works). Many frozen vegetables can also be microwaved – look for cooking instructions on the bag.

Also in the frozen section are what I call bag meals. As with the vegetables, many of them have the option of cooking them in the microwave. You will need your microwave safe casserole dish for this. These can be healthy or not-healthy, depending on which ones you get. I usually try to find diet or low-fat bag meals, because meals with a lot of fat, oil, or grease give me stomach aches. Along with bag meals there are also pre-made microwavable meals in boxes that a designed to be heated in the microwave.

Getting away from the microwave

Maybe you don’t have access to a microwave. Or maybe you want to make simple foods that don’t require one. The simplest options I know of are noodle bowls again, and sandwiches.

Noodle bowls can often also be made by pouring boiling water into them, rather than heating them in the microwave. This does call for a kettle to boil and safely pour the water.

Then there are sandwiches. You will need bread and your choice of sandwich toppings, and probably a butter knife to spread toppings. A classic is peanut butter and jelly – spread the jelly on one slice, peanut butter on the other slice, and put together to be a sandwich. Lunchmeat sandwiches are a bit more involved, but can be very good.

Hey, how about I write out how to construct a basic lunchmeat sandwich?

You will need

a plate (or paper towel or simply a clean surface to make your sandwich on)
a butter knife (if you are planning on using mayonnaise or ketchup or mustard or other condiment)
optional: lettuce or other greenery, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
(salad bags in the produce section can be a good way to handle your greenery)

Putting it all together

Take out two slices of bread and place them side-by-side on your plate (or other food-prep surface).

Start with your condiments. If you are wanting to use more than two condiments that can get a little tricky as you will need to layer them. I usually just use mayonnaise. You can use whatever you find tasty.

Take your lettuce and put it on one of your slices of bread. Take your lunchmeat and put it on top of the lettuce. Top it off with the other slice of bread, and presto! You have food!

Remember to close your bottles of condiments and put everything back where it was, and make sure your dirty dishes get into the dishwasher or sink or counter to be washed.

The nice thing about sandwiches is that they offer a very smooth way to level up if you want to. A sandwich can be as simple as peanut butter on bread, or can have all sorts of ingredients like pickles, tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else you want.

Want something a little more involved than this? Move onto level 2 – basic stovetop cooking. (you may need to scroll down to find the page buttons)


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7 responses to “How Do I Adult: Cooking

  1. I love the series “how do I adult” – it makes such a good verb. One thing I would add to level 1 – do not ever put any metal in the microwave. I didn’t know this explicitly growing up and it lead to issues until I learned the “no metal” rule. And always make sure what you have in there is “microwave safe”.

    A big part for me isn’t the cooking itself, but the deciding what to make or eat. I can cook pretty easily, I’m good at following the directions in a recipe or package (going “off-book” is a whole other issue), but I have a hard time getting my brain together enough to say “I will eat this today”. I solve this with a weekly meal plan that I make on Sundays and stick to. I grocery shop based on it, too – saves money and I eat healthier and I always have the food I need.

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you like it!

      That is a very good point about the metal. It seems to be one of those things everyone is supposed to “just know” even without being told.

  2. I have created magnets with ingredients that I like to eat, and assemble meals from that. It really helps me to remember what I have in the fridge as well.

  3. Another option for the steamer you show is something like this:
    It fits on the saucepan and performs the same function, but allows room for, say, boiling potatoes in the water underneath. And it frees up the skillet for cooking the meat if you are.

    Most of the time i agree with E. Its deciding what to cook that gets me, and the fact that i have often had to do it a day in advance to allow things time to defrost.

    • Oh interesting, I’ve never seen a steamer that looks like that one. It sounds useful!

      I think the deciding problem is one of the reasons Nee and I only do more advanced meals a couple times a week. We can plan days in advance, and only have to be seriously thinking about one meal at a time.

  4. Pingback: How do I Adult: Grocery Shopping | Aspergers and Me