WHY BOTHER TO MASTER HEALTHY NO-RECIPE COOKING?
NOTE: Want to jump directly into learning the method? Skip this whole intro and bounce to Part One. But if you want to get fired up about healthy no-recipe cooking first, then read on.
FIRST, LET’S MAKE SURE YOU ARE HERE TO SOLVE THE RIGHT PROBLEM...
If you want to cook more, for whatever reason - to eat a certain way, to create a wholesome household for your kids, to impress your girlfriend - there is only one metric that matters: are you cooking more or not?
Every day you see recipes and meal plans that promise to be “easy”, “quick”, “healthy”, and “delicious”. Those are all great selling points. But they avoid the one thing that matters most: WILL YOU DO IT?
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s important to solve the right problem. Your problem is not that your recipes aren’t healthy enough or quick enough or delicious enough. Your problem is that YOU ARE NOT COOKING OFTEN ENOUGH. Seen through this lens, recipes are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.
SIX WAYS THAT RECIPES HOLD YOU BACK
#1 Recipes are nothing but long to-do lists.
Do this, then this, then this... blah blah blah. Recipes reduce cooking to a big fat chore. When you cook without recipes it's a creative and fun experience.
#2 Recipes get all the credit, you get all the blame.
Follow a recipe and the outcome is good, the recipe gets all the credit. If it's bad, you take all the blame. In neither instance do you learn anything but how to follow recipes better.
#3 The recipe you want is never there when you need it.
You collect recipes, cookbooks, and fill your drawers with clippings, you have Pinterest boards and Google is always a keystroke away. But when the time comes to make something you’re in the mood for (and have the will to make) you still have to search and search and search.
#4 Recipes force you to shop inefficiently.
Recipes come with shopping lists and shopping lists send you hunting and pecking all over the place, from ping-ponging around the aisles to visiting multiple stores.
#5 Recipes don't account for what's fresh in your market.
While you ping-pong around the store to check off items on your list, you skip all the best, freshest and in-season items simply because they don't conform to your recipe.
#6 Recipes don't account for your particular taste or portion sizes.
Searching for recipes that conform to your diet is limiting to begin with, and a recipe does not consider your particular serving size or the nuances of your palate.
EIGHT WAYS NO-RECIPE COOKING PROPELS YOU FORWARD
#1 IT’S FASTER.
No-recipe cooking cuts out searching for recipes, which alone can take longer than cooking an entire meal without a recipe. Plus it cuts out the process of shopping against a list. It cuts out the need to check in with the recipe repeatedly throughout the cooking process. Knowing your meals will come together quickly gets you to cook more frequently.
#2 IT’S EASIER.
No-recipe cooking lets you make it up as you go, which is so much easier than following instructions. Yes, you need confidence, skills and know-how, but once you have those, it’s so much easier to just grab ingredients and make something than it is to force yourself to act like a robot as you execute a recipe.
That feeling of ease makes you want to cook more.
#3 IT’S A CUSTOM FIT.
No-recipe cooking is customizable in two important ways:
- At the meal level, you get to make dishes that are portioned, seasoned, and cooked exactly the way you like, rather than some recipe or diet guru telling you how much of this or that to have.
- At the process level, you get to create your own flow for gathering ingredients and turning them into meals. This allows you to put systems, routines, and processes in place that work with your particular schedule and family dynamics.
Recipe-based cooking, in contrast, forces you to prepare for cooking in ways that are maddeningly strict, if not downright impossible. Build your cooking around your life rather than around recipes and you will cook more.
#4 IT GETS BETTER OVER TIME.
Unlike a recipe-based eating plan that looks great in the beginning but gets worse over time as you try executing all the recipes, no-recipe cooking gets better over time. The more you do it, the better you get. And the better you get, the more you want to do it. It’s a virtuous cycle that gets you cooking more and more.
#5 IT MAKES COOKING FUN.
No-recipe cooking is creative, challenging, rewarding, and very often it’s social. Once you get into the game of turning raw ingredients into delicious meals you start trying to best your last performance, taking on new ingredients, seasonings, and cooking techniques. This gets you cooking more.
#6 IT’S EMPOWERING.
No-recipe cooking makes you the hero, not your recipes. The feeling of empowerment that comes from handling your business in the kitchen is both attractive and addicting. It makes you want to cook more.
#7 IT’S ENGAGING.
No-recipe cooking gets rid of all the hassles surrounding cooking and lets you focus entirely on the process, so that your mind and senses are engaged with it. You can easily get in a flow that is the opposite of exhausting; it’s rejuvenating.
You’ll cook more to get that feeling.
#8 IT’S LESS WASTEFUL.
No-recipe cooking lets you make the most of the ingredients you have on hand. When your cooking is mostly recipe-based you find yourself stuck with all kinds of ingredients you didn’t get around to using because a) you shopped for a recipe you never got around to doing and/or b) the ingredients you bought for the recipe came in bigger sizes than the recipe called for and you don’t know what to do with the leftover. When you cooking results in food getting eaten rather than going to waste, you are more likely to do it.
IF NO-RECIPE COOKING IS SO GREAT, WHY DOESN’T EVERYBODY DO IT?
Because there is a learning curve involved, and most people aren’t down for that.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who learned to cook at your parent’s hip while growing up you don’t need recipes and are mystified by everyone who clings to them so tightly. You are like those people who are fluent in a second language because they were raised in a bilingual household.
Because you are reading this guide, I suspect you were not one of the lucky one. I suspect you are like the rest of us, the ones who have to learn how to cook without recipes in adulthood.
The good news is that I know exactly where you are coming from. I grew up on microwavable meals and I didn’t teach myself to cook until my mid-thirties. The even better news is that I can show you the shortcut to success.
But I don’t want to mislead you. It’s not an instant get. Learning no-recipe cooking is on par with learning a new sport. You can understand the game pretty quickly but to really enjoy it you need to get your skills up.
That’s why I want you to get your first taste of victory as quickly as possible. So let's dig in!
Grab the PDF to read later.