O food editor Michelle Shih suggests these novice-friendly cookbooks:
In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine
These former bloggers know from experience that 20-somethings don't have an unlimited budget; the chatty pair offer tips for preparing meals that won't drain your bank account.
How to Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman
The New York Times food columnist walks you through broiling fish, roasting chicken wings, and baking pizza, with instructional photos along the way.
Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen
If you've got the basics down, check out the Food Network star's in-depth manual. She gives advice on how to shop smarter, then moves on to recipes like inventive salads and mac and cheese.
Next: Dr. Oz's 24 smart strategies for feeling great at every age