The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (2024)

The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (1)

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]hen I was learning to cook I was a slave to recipes. While it was a good way to start learning different techniques and ingredients, it did have some frustrating limitations.

Like what happens when you can’t buy a particular ingredient? And what do you do with that leftover half bunch of herbs? Or jar of sauce?

Or worse still, what do you do when you need to eat but don’t have time to search through recipes and go shopping for exotic ingredients?

Over the years, with a lot of trial and error, I began to learn to cook more instinctively, on my own.

Without other people’s recipes.

In my head, without really being conscious of what I was doing, I started thinking of recipes in general terms rather than specific ingredients.

From there, I developed a collection of starting point or ‘template recipes’. So whenever I walked into the kitchen and looked into the fridge to figure out what to cook, I had a head start.

I knew what had worked before to make that soup or stir fry and could use that knowledge as a springboard for a new dish or meal.

Why try ‘template recipes’?

Template recipes provide a stepping stone or ‘training wheels’ to help you take the first steps to freedom from recipes.

They’re designed to give you some support and structure while also providing plenty of ideas to get you started.

At the same time they are there to encourage you to think for yourself. To try new things. To experiment and develop your own recipes and style.

Like to see an example?

I’ve included a template recipe from my ‘Master Your Meal Plan‘ online cooking class below…

The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (2)

Ketchup ‘Baked’ Legumes – Template ‘Recipe’

The idea behind using template ‘recipes’ is that the ingredients are listed in general terms to encourage you to think about recipes in a different way. Just look down at the ‘variations’ to get ideas for what to use for each different type of ingredient.

It’s all about building your confidence to start experimenting and cooking for yourself. Over time you’ll find yourself not even needing the templates but they act as ‘training wheels’ to get you started.

per person
takes: 15 minutes

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 aromatic vegetable, chopped
1/2 can legumes, drained
2 tablespoons ketchup (or ‘tomato sauce’ for the Aussies!)
1 teaspoon spice, optional

1. Heat a medium fry pan on a medium heat. Add butter and aromatic veg and cook for 5-10 minutes until the veg is soft and lightly golden.

2. Add legumes, ketchup and spice.

3. Stir and simmer for a couple of minutes to make sure everything is hot. Taste & season.


butter alternative / dairy-free – any oil you normally cook with.

aromatic veg – onions are my favourite but celery or carrots would be good instead..

legumes – I’ve used cannellini beans in the photo but any canned or cooked legume will work. Try butter beans, borlotti beans, black beans, chickpeas or lentils. Note: a standard can is 400g (14oz).

no ketchup? – I really recommend getting a small bottle to try with this dish. I’m not really a big ketchup fan but I adore these legumes. Otherwise try tomato paste and a big pinch or three of brown sugar. A good BBQ sauce will also work.

spice – first choice smoked paprika. Next choice other paprika, dried chilli (you may like to reduce the quantity if really hot). Coriander seed or cumin would be interesting. And curry powder would work if you’re in the mood for a curry.

higher protein – Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) while the onion cooks. When the legumes are done, make a small well in the middle and crack and egg into it. Bake for about 10 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolks still runny.


The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (4)

Would you like to learn to cook without recipes?

Then check out my ‘Master Your Meal Plan‘ online program which is starting at the end of this week!

For more details, go to:

Big love
Jules x

The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (5) The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (6) The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (7)


ps. Wondering if the template recipes in ‘Master Your Meal Plan‘ will work for you?

I’ll be honest. The program isn’t for everyone…

If you’re happy with your current meal planning system, then it’s probably not going to add much value. Unless you’d like to learn to cook more freely and creatively.

But if planning your meals each week causes you problems, then more than likely, the Master Your Meal Plan system will help you.

Just like it’s already helped these people…

Anna, Master Your Meal Plan Owner.
“The biggest change is that I don’t follow recipes to the T anymore – I am substituting different ingredients based on what I have on hand – a big change for me. I am wasting far less food.”

Karen, Master Your Meal Plan Owner.
“Everything has changed for the better. I actually cook all of my meals now. I’m able to throw together meals with simple ingredients that are healthy in a short period of time. I have learned to use the fresh vegetables that are in my refrigerator and what’s in my pantry to cook excellent meals. MYMP is just the thing I needed to get me over my fear of cooking and get me started with eating whole foods.”

Kate, Master Your Meal Plan Owner.
“The whole system was very useful to me. I learned better planning of meals for a week and, besides that, to improvise with ingredients. Preparing food ceased to be stressful factor and became a joy!

The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (8)

Daphne, Master Your Meal Plan Owner.
“After MYMP I’m much more relaxed about mixing things up or using alternate ingredients when I don’t have exactly what’s called for.”

To join us go to:


The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes (2024)


The 'Secret' to Cooking Without Recipes? ›

Understand basic cooking techniques: Knowing how to cook basic techniques such as sautéing, roasting, braising, and grilling can help you cook any dish without relying on specific recipes. Taste as you go: Taste your dish as you cook it and make adjustments to the seasonings as needed.

How to cook without a recipe? ›

At its heart no-recipe cooking really is as simple as grabbing some ingredients, chopping them up, sprinkling on some seasonings, cooking it down, eating and liking it. Notice how planning your meal comes after picking your ingredients? This is the key to keeping the whole process easy-breezy as we'll soon explore.

What do you call cooking without a recipe? ›

No recipe cooking is exactly what it sounds like: creating a meal without prescribed quantities of ingredients or carefully outlined steps. It simply starts with an idea, some basic knowledge, and perhaps a willingness to experiment.

What is the secret of good cooking? ›

Add a small pinch of salt every time a new ingredient is added to the dish, so that flavors have time to build. The earlier you start seasoning, the deeper and more concentrated the flavors will become in the final product. When cooking meats, make sure to salt and tenderize with a fork the night before.

Can you learn how do you cook without cooking? ›

Yes, it is possible to learn how to cook without actually cooking. Here are some ways you can do so: Read cookbooks: Reading cookbooks and recipes can help you understand the basics of cooking, the different techniques and ingredients used, and how to put them together to make a dish.

What is the easiest method of cooking? ›

Baking. One of the most popular methods of cooking is baking this is probably one of the easiest to master; you will simply need to heat the oven to a temperature and then place your food in.

How can I learn to cook by myself? ›

10 Tips to Teach Yourself to Cook
  1. Get Into a Routine. Like anything, learning to cook well requires practice. ...
  2. Start With the Basics. ...
  3. Keep It Simple. ...
  4. Grow Your Spice Collection. ...
  5. Invest in a Set of Pans. ...
  6. Make Sure Your Knives Are Sharp. ...
  7. Plan Ahead. ...
  8. Cook in Bulk.

What is lazy cooking? ›

It means making smart or clever adjustments that make cooking quicker and easier. Think of it as pandemic cooking 2.0—good, healthy food made convenient. It's all about sheet pan dinners, pressure cookers and any meal you can make in one vessel. It likely involves fewer steps and fewer ingredients.

What is a female cook called? ›

Answer: A cook is a gender-neutral word which describes the person who is an expert in cooking, culinary skills and expertise in culinary arts. The term “cook” is used in tandem with genders not distinguishing masculine from feminine. But both of them- male and female “cook”- are also described using the word “chef”.

What can you substitute in recipes? ›

Common Ingredient Substitutions
Evaporated milk1 cup1 cup light cream
Farmer's cheese8 ounces8 ounces dry cottage cheese OR 8 ounces creamed cottage cheese, drained
Fats for baking1 cup1 cup applesauce OR 1 cup fruit puree
Flour: bread1 cup1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon wheat gluten
83 more rows
Jan 6, 2021

What is the first golden rule of cooking? ›

The golden rule of cooking is to always taste as you go. This means that as you cook, you should taste your food frequently to make sure that the flavors are balanced and that the dish is coming together as you intended.

What are the 4 rules of cooking? ›

The four basic safe food handling behaviors — clean, separate, cook, and chill — will keep our food safe. Food safety risks at home are common.

What is the number one rule when cooking? ›

Of all the important advice out there about cooking, this by far has to be the number 1 rule of cooking: read your recipe completely before getting started.

How do I start cooking with no experience? ›

There's no better way to learn how to cook than to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in a hands-on cooking class near you or even a live online cooking class. From basic knife skills to copying your favorite takeout items, cooking classes offer something for everyone.

How do you learn to cook without wasting food? ›

Try a few and see what works best for you.
  1. Keep a Food Waste Journal. ...
  2. Seek Out Single-Serve Recipes. ...
  3. Prep Once, Eat All Week. ...
  4. Make a 'Big Salad' ...
  5. Shop at Farmers Markets or CSAs. ...
  6. Get the Right Storage Containers. ...
  7. Learn the Truth About Food Date Labels. ...
  8. Find Your Favorite 'Kitchen Sink' Recipes.

Is it worth learning to cook? ›

Cooking improves your overall health simply by the variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients you are getting from the ingredients. By learning to cook, you are controlling your calorie intake, and your protein intake, and you are able to finally determine what foods you truly do or do not like.

How do I force myself to like cooking? ›

It starts with mindset.
  1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. ...
  2. Let Go of Misconceptions. ...
  3. Get Motivated by the Money You'll Save. ...
  4. Get Motivated by Others. ...
  5. Simply the Research. ...
  6. Know Nutrition Basic: PFH. ...
  7. Organize Your Kitchen. ...
  8. Upgrade Equipment and Utensils.
Sep 11, 2022

How can I cook without fear? ›

A few tips to keep in mind:
  1. Be open-minded. Avoid thinking that cooking is a burden and a chore. ...
  2. Don't stress. ...
  3. Allow enough time. ...
  4. Before you cook…read through the entire recipe a few times to really understand what you will be doing. ...
  5. Enlist help in the kitchen. ...
  6. Don't be afraid to substitute! ...
  7. Keep trying!


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