You don’t need to chop onions!
Almost all of the ‘How to Cook’ books and courses start with something like this:
In fact, when I first taught friends to cook about 15 years ago, I too showed them how to chop an onion. I even wanted to write a book called ‘This is a knife’ because I saw the ability to chop as a fundamental starting point of cooking. And it is if you want to be a serious cook.
But it’s not a great place to start if you want to form a cooking habit. Habits are easiest to build when we get lots of quick wins and we feel positive about it. And it’s not a critical first step if you want to learn how to cook because you want to eat better and cook simple, quick meals for yourself.
So while it looks like I’m taking the piss by creating a cooking course that doesn’t have chopping as it’s first skill, it’s actually a result of understanding how our minds work. And from learning how to accelerate behaviour change.
Attempting to go from pinging something in a microwave to chopping onions (which can literally make you cry) is similar to the leap of going from couch potato to trying a big run on your first day. Even if you were motivated, you’re very likely to find reasons to avoid having to do it again for a while.
I’ve poured everything I know about decision-making and behaviour change into this programme and I’m keen to keep improving it to get you even better results.
The course makes you feel good!
“Cooking for Life” is what it says it is. You are cooking for vitality, you are building sustainable positive lifetime habits and you may even get a new lease of life!
Well, this course has been designed to give you lots of small wins. And therefore lots of moments to celebrate your achievements.
If you’re working long hours on your career or business, it might feel like forever since you saw the last clear win. It might seem like day after day you’re sacrificing and grinding it out in hope of a big payoff. And it’s always just out of reach.
Well, it’s surprising how feeling good about one area of your life can often have a ripple effect. It may happen slowly and without you noticing at first but it’s unexpectedly (and wonderfully) contagious.
The food you cook will nourish your body, the new perspectives will nourish your mind and the celebrations will nourish your spirit.
You learn in your kitchen
Unlike courses where you learn in a professional kitchen and then struggle to replicate the results at home because your oven, stove, and equipment are all different, with Cooking For Life, you’re learning to judge the timing etc. in the actual environment where you’ll be cooking.
What better way to help a habit than in the real situation where you need the habit!
It’s genuinely hard to find another course like this!
TV cooking programmes are designed around making the chef/cook look good. Lots of sexy shots of the food (and sometimes of the cook as well!) which leave us drooling after either or both. But most beginners struggle to learn from standard cooking programmes. There’s rarely any clear progression from week to week.
And sometimes it’s as awkward as the stock photo above.
If you’re an experienced cook, you may be able to pick up ideas to use in your routine. But if you’re a newbie to cooking, and especially if you’re not especially keen to spend that long becoming a great cook, then these programmes are sadly ineffective.
Cookery schools are designed for keen cooks and wannabe chefs – they are expensive and involve quite a lot of swotting up and lots of time practicing to get good. And expensive. Did I mention expensive?
You don’t need recipes
There are almost no recipes in this course. Even when I include a recipe, they are not as you know them to be. You will learn about proportions and combinations of ingredients. You’ll even learn about the importance of measuring! But everything you learn is to free you to work eventually from intuition rather than being a slave to recipes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cookbooks – I have a ton of them – and I like to cook from recipes because it expands my knowledge and understanding and pushes me beyond my standard fare. I even run a cookbook club! I will spend entire days at the weekend cooking for friends and family and I often try out new recipes on them.
However, when I come home after an exhausting day at work, I hardly have the mental space to read anything let alone dense instructions. So I want to make sure that I give you the ability to rustle something up, as experienced cooks do, even if you’re tired.
In fact, many people find it cathartic and meditative to tune out of work and sink into the comforts of cooking. But this only happens when you’re relaxed about it and can feel your way around a kitchen rather than worriedly following every point in a recipe.
You don’t need tons of equipment to make a quick meal
One of the complaints I hear from people is that some of the fast meals out there involve using about three pans, two chopping boards, the food processor, blender, pestle and mortar and about every surface space around to produce the quick dish. This means lots of cleaning up and is likely to put you off cooking regularly even if the meal was quite tasty.
I do my best to minimise the equipment you use and I take into account the overall time that you spend in the kitchen – including the cleaning up!
You won’t have food sitting in cupboards for years
I don’t get you to stock your pantry from day one. It seems like just about every cookbook out there begins with a huge list of staples that you’ll need for your cupboard.
My experience is that people begin enthusiastically, then lose motivation when they have to follow recipe after recipe. The food is left sitting in their cupboard till it goes well past it’s best-before date (and I mean years out of date rather than weeks). As time goes by that person becomes increasingly reluctant to buy ingredients and sticks to ready meals instead. This is especially the case if you are loathe to throw food out.
On this course, you build it up gradually. And you buy more of the flavours that you like.