Your list should consist of mostly things from the produce aisle. Nothing should be in a can or jar except some oil, mustard, or honey, things like that. Olives maybe. Then you can get some spices and herbs, enough for a variety of flavors. It's good to have a little bit of frozen vegetables so you can add them to dishes.
You should have some good quality cheeses, some eggs, and some pasta, and some beer and wine.
You can buy pieces of poultry, meat, or fish to cook for a protein source.
What I usually do then is just roast some vegetables together in the pan you would use to make lasagna. Just cut up whatever you have and cook it drizzled with some olive oil and spices. So usually it's whole cloves of garlic, smallish potatoes, brussel-sprouts, carrots, and peppers of various kinds.
A piece of fish can just go in the oven with some lemon juice or paprika sprinkled on it. I'll make a sauce with some wine or beer for a pork chop, which I cook on my grill pan or grill outside if it's warm.
Salads needs something green, and then grilled asparagus, or some avocado, cheese, and olives. Maybe nuts. The dressing is just olive oil, something acidic like vinegar or lime juice, and whatever fresh or dried herbs you want.
A soup is just a good stock and some vegetables. Stews are similar but with less liquid. For pasta, you just need to sauté some things in a pan and toss it with the pasta. For a stir fry you need small pieces of meat or tofu, and vegetables. An omelet is eggs and whatever you want to put into it.
The basic knowledge you need is how long things need to cook, and what things taste like. You want to bring out the natural flavors of the food, but also season with garlic, salt, acidic things like citrus juices, hot peppers to taste, and other spice / herb flavors. Even frozen corn taste good if sautéed in olive oil with garlic, cilantro, and hot peppers, then topped with parmesan cheese. Imagine that with a salmon filet baked in the oven with lemon and paprika, and a baked potato. It takes less than five minutes to put that in the oven, and then you can make your corn when everything is baked. I am extremely fast in the kitchen.
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