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Q. My son is graduating from high school this year and will be living in his first apartment this fall. What dishes should every young person learn to make before living on their own? I’m looking for easy, yet nutritious ideas to share with him.  –Martha, Appleton

A. Here are the top five things that I feel every person should learn how to cook before living on his or her own, in no particular order:

Pasta: The ability to prepare pasta properly opens the door to more than the obvious macaroni and cheese and spaghetti, but can also include many dishes using linguine, fettuccine and all kinds of shells.

Rice: Not only can rice can be used as a side dish, but it can also serve as the main entree when fried with vegetables and leftover proteins.

Ground meat: Any kind of ground meat when browned can be used as a base for many favorites such as chili, sloppy joes, tacos or a variety of “helper” dishes.

Chicken breast: Chicken breasts are so affordable and versatile that it would seem that learning to cook them would open the door to a variety of sandwich and entrée options.

Eggs: Eggs are extremely economical, much healthier for us than once thought, and can be prepared in so many ways including fried, scrambles, omelets stuffed with anything, and lots of egg bake options.

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