When I moved away from home to go to college, I realized that the days of dinner magically appearing on the kitchen table were over. Yep, it was time to “barbecue or mildew,” as my dad used to say. Thankfully, both my parents and grandparents equipped me with a cache of culinary skills that allowed me to feed myself and throw some belly-filling barbecues, brunches, and dinner parties. What started out as small, infrequent gatherings with a few university friends turned into recurring soirées with students from all over the city. Now I wasn't just making meals; I was making lots of friends.

These two menus give you a chance to practice for all those feasts you'll be pulling together once you get your own place. No chips, dips, and delivered pizzas; you'll be whipping up dishes that will have your friends buying cookbooks and watching the Food Network to keep up. Just don't forget to make every meal as organic as possible. Why? Because knowing that the food you're eating has been grown without chemicals simply makes it taste better than food that has been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. That sustainably produced food is also good for your health, benefits the local economy, and protects the Earth makes it that much more delicious.