Goodbye Recipe Obsession: Learn to Cook without Recipes!
Have you ever been so tied to a recipe that you feel like a small change or alteration could spoil your entire masterpiece? Sometimes recipes are needed and accuracy is key, but many recipes don’t need to be followed exactly. In fact, you can learn to cook without recipes!
What does it mean to cook without recipes?
To cook without recipes, you need to have a solid foundation and understand basic cooking skills. This will allow you to prepare a nutritious and balanced meal using some culinary techniques and ingredients. Honening this skill takes time, patience, and practice, but it can certainly be done!
Why is it important?
Cooking without a recipe allows you to prepare a meal quickly after a long day at work or when trying to appease a hungry toddler, preteen, or teen. It can also decrease your dependence on fast food or other convenience foods that protect your health and that of your home. Plus, it’s enriching to be able to look through your fridge and pantry and put together a meal without a recipe in hand!
How do you learn to cook without recipes?
To cook without recipes, you need the right equipment, ingredients, and knowledge.
It’s hard to cook nutritious meals if you don’t have the tools necessary for success! At a minimum, stock your kitchen with these essential equipment
: Cutting tools:
- knives, cutting board, sharpening steel, hand sharpener, peeler, kitchen scissors, grater, can opener Measuring tools: digital scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons, thermometer Mixing/spreading tools
- : wooden spoon, tweezers, pastry brush, spatula, turner, whisk
- Tools that drain / separate: strainer, fine mesh strainer, salad spinner Mixing
- Pots and pans Baking sheets
- food processor Stand mixer and/or
mixer Use our shopping guide for a comprehensive list of our favorite pieces of kitchen equipment!
You need a kitchen equipped with essential ingredients to be able to cook meals without recipes. The more you cook, the more you’ll learn about ingredient substitutions you can make seamlessly.
Fill your pantry with the
- Spices and dried herbs
- Canned tomatoes
- Oils and vinegars
- Whole grains
- Nuts Baking
and dried beans
In addition to the pantry, you’ll need some basic ingredients in the fridge and freezer.
- Fresh and frozen fruit
- Fresh and frozen vegetables
- Lean meats – especially fish
- Whole grain breads and tortillas
Not only do you need to stock up on basic ingredients, but you also need to know what they smell and taste like, even spices
Use our ingredient guide to find out which ingredients are best
the equipment and ingredients, it’s time to put everything into action! At first, you’ll
likely have to rely on recipes; Try as many as possible. As you begin to develop your recipe repertoire, you’ll begin to notice techniques that are repeated in different recipes, such as browning meat in a pan before adding a liquid, or spreading vegetables in a single layer in a pan for roasting. Pay close attention to these techniques, take notes (if you’re a note-taker) and learn from mistakes (trust us, we’ve been there too)!
Taste the food throughout the cooking process and don’t be afraid to modify the recipe here and there. Be open to exploring new flavors; It is the best way to learn how to adjust and change flavors to your liking. Flavor development is a good balance between salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy, and the more you cook, the more you’ll learn to balance these flavors using different combinations of spices, herbs, oils, vinegars, and other ingredients.
Recipes really should serve as guides, not definitive instructions that should be followed exactly (with the exception of most baking recipes, more on this later). Remember, some recipes may be unclear or even incorrect!
As you begin to master culinary techniques and become more comfortable in the kitchen, you’ll begin to spot flaws in recipes (hopefully not ours!) and be able to alter them as needed. If you put these recommendations into action, we believe that recipes can eventually become sources of inspiration rather than restrictive “rules” to follow.
Don’t know where to start learning culinary techniques? Take our Knife Skills 101 online course at your own pace to learn how to cut, cut, chop and chop 20 common ingredients!
Let us help you!
At To Taste, our goal is to bring delicious, nutritious, plant-based recipe concepts to your kitchen.
We have started offering live cooking classes where we teach you how to prepare nutritious meals while providing live commentary on your culinary experience!
We hope to teach you culinary techniques through a set of basic recipes, essentially formulas (rather than precise recipes) that allow you to prepare and customize any culinary creation to YOUR liking. You can add more ingredients depending on the ingredients you have on hand, your mood, time, or energy.
Head over to our base recipes page to start cooking to your liking! Our overnight pancakes, grain salads and oatmeal are great recipes to start with, then add ingredients to your liking. If you’re not feeling creative, we always include some of our favorite variations to inspire you!
Have fun, use what you have and cook real food
TO YOUR liking!