You want to cook more, so what’s stopping you?
“I love the idea of cooking but putting it into practice is a nightmare, and when no one wants to eat it I feel like I have wasted time of my life that I will never get back.”
“Cooking takes me forever and it never turns out right, and it doesn’t feel very rewarding anyway.”
“I have stopped believing that I am capable of cooking a good meal. And how can I ever develop a good relationship with food and not worry about it if I’m at the mercy of processed foods and restaurants?”
“I want badly to be the mom that cooks at home, I just don’t know where to start…. It feels so overwhelming.”
“I live by myself and am just too tired to cook. It seems a huge effort to do for myself only.”
“Eating out all the time is really expensive, but I hate cooking so much that most the time I either give in or just skip the meal altogether.”
“When I look at ANY recipe I want to cry. When I do try to make something and it doesn’t work out I get even more frustrated and say to myself, this is why I hate cooking.”
Hi, I’m Darya Rose. I’m a neuroscience Ph.D, author of Foodist and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites.
Before I developed a regular cooking habit there were few things that intimidated me more than the kitchen.
I had no idea how to hold a knife or work a stove.
When I did try to cook something it usually ended up terrible. With no flavor and burnt on the outside, while raw in the middle. Sounds yummy, I know.
As a result most of the meals I ate came from a box or a bag or a restaurant.
And forget about entertaining. The idea of cooking for anyone else was laughable. Why would I do that to anybody I care about? (Let alone myself). Thanks, but no thanks.
If you had asked me at the time why I didn’t cook more I would have said that I just didn’t know how. And I don’t have the time or energy anyway.
Cooking felt like a huge effort with low reward. And it was.
At the time I had no idea how much power cooking had to change my life for the better. That it would have ended my struggle with weight and revolutionized my relationship with food and my body.
I also didn’t understand that the struggles I had with cooking could be eliminated with just a few simple adjustments in my strategy.
Cooking can be easy and less stressful if you turn it into a HABIT.
When cooking isn’t a habit it feels hard and seems to take forever. Every step from planning, shopping and prepping, to cooking and cleanup takes more time and energy.
Even if you do manage to throw something together there’s a good chance it doesn’t taste that good.
But when cooking is a habit it isn’t stressful or frustrating. You become so efficient in the kitchen that it actually takes less time to cook than to go out to a restaurant.
Even after a long day’s work you can walk in the door, open the fridge and know exactly what to do to get a tasty, healthy meal on the table in half an hour.
When you have a habit you can do something easier and faster, because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard.
In fact, if you have a strong habit it is easier to do it than not do it.
That is what makes habits so powerful.
Habits don’t develop when things are hard
I’ve spent years trying to understand what prevents people from forming a cooking habit. I’ve done surveys, conducted interviews and analyzed thousands of answers.
People give different reasons for why they don’t cook, but I discovered the common thread underlying all the issues:
Relying on recipes is the main reason people struggle with cooking.
Think about it. When you don’t cook regularly and you decide to try a new recipe you take a long list of ingredients to the store.
You wander around the aisles looking for everything you need, which is stressful and can easily take 45 minutes.
What do you do if you can’t find something you need? Ugh. You have to make an extra stop.
When you get everything home, there is a decent chance you already had an open box of cornstarch or some ground cumin at the back of your pantry. But you aren’t exactly sure how old those were anyway, so you throw them away.
Now you’re wasting food.
You struggle through the recipe, which takes a lot of time because you’re constantly having to read and make sure you’re doing everything correctly.
When you’re done the recipe may or may not have turned out well. Shockingly few recipes are adequately tested.
If it doesn’t turn out well, can you fix it? Or are you just left eating a mediocre meal?
What if everyone in your family doesn’t like it? Do you have to make two different recipes or more?
Cooking from a recipe also means you probably made too much food and will be stuck with leftovers that no one wants. More food waste.
And don’t forget the rest of those carrots and the other half of the onion you didn’t use. If you cook from recipes, you probably don’t have a plan to use up everything you purchased for the original recipe.
Every single one of these things adds stress and frustration to the cooking process, not to mention a ton of time, effort and money.
No wonder you don’t do this very often.
Learn to cook without recipes
The secret to building a cooking habit is learning to cook without recipes. This may sound like a magic trick, but it isn’t as hard as you think.
Imagine having the freedom to make your weekly shopping trip at your own convenience, walking through the produce and butcher sections and deciding what to cook for the week based on what looks good.
You choose three main courses, then imagine what flavors and side dishes sound like they would go well with them. This comes pretty naturally to you, since you cook so often and have experience with many ingredients.
You know how to cook pretty much everything in the produce aisle, so you just have to decide what ingredients you need to create the dishes you’re imagining. You also know exactly where to find everything.
Buying the correct amount of food is intuitive, since you know the eating habits of your household. That reminds you, your kids really loved that squash dish last week so you need to buy extra today.
You already have all the basics at home, so you’ve picked up everything and are out of the store in under 20 minutes.
Each evening you decide what you are “in the mood for” based on what you’ve purchased, and you have the knife and cooking skills you need to assemble it without much stress.
When the food is getting close to finished, you have a taste and decide it’s a bit flat. You adjust the seasonings and add a few herbs until it sings. You make a mental note of this for next time.
You already know you made something delicious, but your friends and family praise your skills. They ask what your secret is and if they can have the recipe.
“Oh it’s just something I threw together, I didn’t really follow a recipe.”
“Wow! You’re an amazing chef.”
“Nah, I just know what tastes good.”
Because you’re not frantically following a recipe, most of the cleanup is done before the food is finished cooking.
So after you eat you just need to rinse the pans and put the dirty plates in the dishwasher. It takes less than 10 minutes.
There’s just enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow, since that’s what you planned for.
And when you treat yourself to a nice restaurant meal on Friday night, you’ve earned it.
Removing the burden of following a recipe frees you from all the stress, frustration and waste that comes from not having an intuitive sense in the kitchen.
It is the ultimate foodist freedom.
Anyone can learn to cook without recipes
I know that anyone can learn to cook without recipes, because I did.
When I was in college I was such a terrible cook that I once burned water (no joke, I was trying to make pasta and forgot about it). And it took me an entire afternoon to learn how to boil eggs.
(I’m still embarrassed by this).
Now making delicious, healthy food at home is as natural to me as getting dressed in the morning or walking my dog. I don’t think about it, I just do it.
A common misconception is that cooking is a natural talent. But nobody is born a chef, and everyone can learn to cook with practice.
It’s not that you either can or can’t cook. It’s that you do or don’t cook.
The first step is to stop thinking about cooking as a single skill. Instead think of it as a series of habits and skills that make it easy for you to get home-cooked meals on the table.
This means you can break cooking down into more manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time. Because cooking skills build on each other, you also need to learn them in the right order.
Learning a bunch of habits may sounds like more work, but it is actually MUCH easier than starting each day with a crazy new recipe.
And once you have it down, you’re set for life.
Introducing Foodist Kitchen: A program to teach you to cook without recipes in just 30 days
Since I know how essential cooking is to becoming a foodist, I created an online course to teach you how to cook without recipes in just 30 days.
I spent over five years fumbling my way through different cooking techniques and slowly building the confidence and intuition I have in the kitchen today. I now know that I could have done this much faster if I’d had a system to take me through the essential steps.
Foodist Kitchen is designed to systematically teach you the habits and skills you need to cook without recipes so you can become an intuitive cook in a fraction of the time it took me.
It will walk you through each step and transform you from being someone who struggles through a recipe, to someone with total confidence in the kitchen.
At the end of 30 days you’ll be able to come home from work, open the fridge and whip up something healthy and delicious without much effort.
You’ll intuitively know what to make, how much to cook, and how to make it taste good.
Unlike most cooking classes that simply teach you techniques (though you’ll learn those too), Foodist Kitchen is focused on building the fundamental habits necessary to make regular cooking a natural part of your day.
I deconstruct the processes of shopping, meal planning, flavor pairing, cooking and cleanup into basic principles that you’ll understand forever. This way you won’t have to rely on recipes ever again.
Foodist Kitchen ensures that you learn and practice each skill at the right time and in the right order, removing all guess work from the habit building process.
When you enroll in Foodist Kitchen each day you’ll receive a simple, fun lesson delivered by email.
It takes less than 10 minutes to read and gives you one simple assignment. The first day all you do is go into your kitchen and get out a knife.
Foodist Kitchen ensures that you’ll be using both your mind and your kitchen, because that’s how habits form.
The lessons and assignments start small, then gradually turn you into a kitchen ninja by the end of the program.
This unique approach will systematically eliminate the anxiety you feel around shopping, cooking and cleaning, and give you complete kitchen confidence.
“Thanks to Foodist Kitchen I’m feeling less anxious about the whole process. Historically it’s been overwhelming, because every time I have to do the whole decide on food – grocery shop – (clean dishes) – cook – clean dishes cycle. I think I might actually be looking forward to cooking tomorrow!” –Jennifer P.
Foodist Kitchen was first created as a program called Feast Bootcamp. It was praised as a revolutionary new cooking course from media outlets like Men’s Fitness, Mashable, Greatist and even Summer Tomato.
“Feast’s approach is different: It’s more about building motivation and confidence than learning to cook super fancy, complex dishes.” –Greatist
I loved Feast and got so much great feedback from readers that I decided to take it over and give it a foodist makeover. (Thanks David and Nadia!)
The original program was developed based on hundreds of studies conducted by psychologists and researchers exploring the human brain and how it forms habits.
The exact same concepts that make habit-changing programs like CrossFit so popular and effective.
I’ve used the original program as a foundation and made it even better by layering in the foodist philosophy and everything I know about using food and your brain to enhance your life and change your relationship with food forever.
It’s the ultimate starting point for becoming a foodist.
“Foodist Kitchen helped me systematize the process of getting food in the house and cooking it in a way where it became almost automatic… I can now buy a week’s worth of food and prepare it without really trying too hard.” –Carol S.
Cooking changes everything
The quality of time you spend in the kitchen is just the start of how learning to cook without recipes will change your life.
Health is central to the Foodist Kitchen philosophy
Although I have come to enjoy cooking for its own sake, and for the sense of warmth and connection it brings to my home, eating more Real Food and avoiding processed foods is still my top motivation for cooking.
It’s simply impossible to make the best food decisions on a regular basis unless you can cook and prepare Real Food. Foodist Kitchen will support you on this mission, and help you build meals based on the Foodist Plate.
“Now when I’m hungry, I’m going to the kitchen to take a look instead of grabbing my keys. I am by default eating healthier. Based on that, I consider this money very well spent.” –Jenny P.
Cooking saves you money
One of the unexpected bonuses I got when I started cooking as a grad student was how much money I saved. Restaurants are seriously expensive, and I had actually gone into debt from eating out so often in San Francisco.
Not going out or relying on overpriced, bad tasting frozen meals saved me hundreds of dollars a month that I was able to channel directly into paying off my debt and creating Summer Tomato.
I also stopped throwing out as much food, since learning to cook without recipes took the guess work out of my grocery shopping. The total savings was huge.
Cooking connects you to people you love
One of the most special things about cooking more is the connections you make with family, friends and your community.
Dinnertime at home is one of the most beloved rituals my husband and I share, and we definitely feel the loss when we skip it too many days in a row.
My cooking habit has also trickled into the rest of my family. My dad has changed from a diet made up entirely of fast food to one of healthy home-cooked meals.
Before this he was depressed, had had a stroke, and barely wanted to live. Today he is 40 lbs lighter and happier than he’s been in two decades.
His cooking habit saved his life.
My sister-in-law and niece now adore squash, cauliflower and brussels sprouts after having a history of picky eating, all because of dishes I made at home.
Few things so simple can lead to such profound change.
“Before Foodist Kitchen I did not even know how to hold a knife correctly, let alone plan a meal. Now I am in the kitchen all the time making delicious Real Food for myself and my family.” –Adam H.
“Some people might think this is simple stuff, but for me it is a wealth of information I had no clue about. Foodist Kitchen has made something very complicated (for me) into something simple and (dare I say) fun! Thank you!” –Beth S.
With Foodist Kitchen You’ll…
- Get simple daily email lessons that take you through each of the habits you need to cook without recipes
- Learn to streamline your shopping process to save time and money
- Learn basic cooking techniques like chopping, sautéing, and roasting
- Develop your flavor intuition to know how to “season to taste” and “fix” a dish that isn’t working for you
- Develop your cooking intuition so you know what it means to cook “until done”
- Learn how to construct healthy delicious meals from almost anything
- Learn how to “use up” everything in your fridge in delicious and creative ways
- Save money by avoiding restaurants and packaged foods, and reducing waste
- Learn how to get family members willing to try (and like) new foods
- Impress friends and dates with your fancy new kitchen skills
- Join a community of new cooks and share tips and adventures
“Learning how to pair flavors in Foodist Kitchen was the highlight for me. Now that I’m armed with the basic theory, I can read a recipe or watch a cooking show, and understand why the particular ingredients are chosen. The tastiness of my dishes has improved significantly.” –Joan K.
The hardest part of learning to cook is getting started. Let Foodist Kitchen guide you step-by-step through the process of learning to cook without recipes.
Who should join Foodist Kitchen?
Foodist Kitchen is for anyone who is ready to make a real, tangible improvement in their life through cooking.
- Has ever thought cooking was too hard or takes too much time
- Feels overwhelmed by cooking and doesn’t know where to start
- Lacks confidence in their ability to make food taste delicious
- Wants to build a foundation of healthy eating for their family and loved ones
- Is tired of throwing away money on restaurants and packaged foods
- Likes to cook from recipes, but wishes it was easier and turned out better
- Hates wasting food
- Wants to save money on their monthly food bill
- Loves good food and sharing it with people
Foodist Kitchen teaches you the concepts and principles behind cooking, but I never tell you exactly what ingredients to buy.
That means it is easy to adapt the program to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or other alternative eating plans.
“You guys are doing a great job, this is a really good method to force people to actually think about the basics. You have clearly tackled the underlying problem, and this little formula works to overcome the barriers.” –Ernest C.
Who should NOT join?
Foodist Kitchen isn’t for you if you aren’t serious about learning to cook.
The program is specifically designed NOT to be overwhelming and isn’t a huge time commitment.
But it does require regular action and follow through, because that is how habits form.
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a natural or if you have a small kitchen. The whole point is practicing, so the habits actually stick.
If you can commit to that, I’m committed to turning you into someone who cooks without recipes in just 30 days.
Foodist Kitchen starts at the very beginning with things like grocery shopping and basic knife skills, and eventually moves up to more advanced lessons on flavor, creativity and experimentation.
That is, it shows you how to grow and build your cooking skills once the program ends.
If you already roast, braise, and sous vide on a regular basis, Foodist Kitchen will be too basic for you.
But if you never got past salads and stir fries, it will certainly help you take your skills to the next level.
Sign up for Foodist Kitchen today
You’re ALWAYS going to be crazy busy.
But the sooner you learn to cook without recipes, the sooner you’ll eliminate the stress and anxiety that comes from having to feed yourself every day without the necessary skill set.
Learning to cook without recipes will also start saving you money immediately.
Foodist Kitchen will easily pay for itself many, many times over. The sooner you start cooking, the more you’ll save.
Also, cooking at home is the single most important step you can take to improve the health of yourself and your family. This may be the best money you’ll ever spend.
By signing up now you’ll lock in the incredibly low price of $99.
This one-time payment will get you lifetime access to the course material and access to the private Facebook group, where you can share your adventures and get support along the way.
Sound too good to be true?
I’m so confident that you’ll love Foodist Kitchen that I’m offering a 60-day money back guarantee. Longer than the length of the entire program!
That gives you plenty of time to try the course at your own leisure and decide if it’s right for you.
Ready to change your life?
“Not to be melodramatic or anything, but this program really has changed my life. I went from thinking home cooked meals were more work than reward to looking forward to cooking dinner!” –Cassie T.