We have been writing about the importance of teaching your children how to cook and eat healthful, well-balanced meals for more than six years now, and are heartened by how many people seem to really embrace this concept as much as we do.

Friends and strangers alike frequently stop us in the supermarket or at our kids’ schools to share with us the dishes they make with their families, and also to ask for advice.

So it was that a longtime friend, America Bienvenu, recently bumped into Tracey on the street and asked her how she should be preparing her daughter, culinarily speaking, for living on her own next year.

Bienvenu’s daughter, Kathryn Bienvenu, is a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy and will be heading to college next fall.

The mother wanted to know what she should teach her daughter in the next few months to get her ready to man her own kitchen.

Tracey started thinking about it and came up with several recipes and basic cooking techniques that are ideal for young people to learn before they leave home for the first time. On a recent afternoon, she held a private cooking lesson for Kathryn Bienvenu and two of her friends, who were amazed at how simple good cooking can be.

The thought behind the recipes Tracey taught the girls is that once you learn a few basic techniques, you can vary the spices or change a few ingredients to create a completely different dish.

She showed them how to make Basic Bolognese Sauce, for instance, and then how to switch Italian seasonings for southwestern spices to get a Black Bean Chili.

She also taught them how to make a blond roux, which can be used to make the Béchamel Sauce that is the base for Chicken Stroganoff, or the gravy in Chicken and Brown Gravy.

The steps to making these dishes may seem simple, but they’re the basic building blocks for many dishes.

All of these recipes are also very inexpensive to make and go a long way toward feeding a crowd, which is important to everyone, especially college students on a tight budget.

Armed with this little bit of knowledge, the girls will be able to put their own spin on these easy recipes. All of the recipes are ingredients that are readily available. Tracey explained that the ingredients in the recipes are ones that you should always keep in your pantry, so an easy delicious meal is never a challenge and always an option.