How I Learned to Cook Without Recipes

by | Apr 29, 2015

Going away to college was a huge shock for me.

I was so neurotic about food at the time that I refused to live in the dorms and pay for the required school meal plan. So I got an apartment with some friends and attempted to feed myself for the first time in my life.

Oh boy.

For the first few months I ate out every meal. In Berkeley this was fun since there’s so much great food, but the novelty eventually wore off.

I also didn’t appreciate the extra 25 pounds that all seemed to pile onto my thighs. So I decided to start making more meals at home.

One day I wanted to make some hardboiled eggs, but had no idea where to start. I called my grandma and she told me to put some eggs in a pot, cover them with cold water, then turn the heat on until it started boiling. After that I was supposed to turn off the burner and let them sit for 12 minutes.

When I cracked my first eggs open, the yolks were still a little soft and I totally freaked out. I had never even heard of a soft boiled egg at the time, and I was pretty sure runny egg yolks were made of pure salmonella. So I threw them away and called my dad for more advice.

The egg trials continued for well over an hour before I finally got one right. I was mortified at how much food I’d wasted and how long it took me to do this simple task.

Cooking was never something I learned growing up, and feeding myself turned out to be a major challenge. The first time I tried to make pasta I forgot about the boiling pot of water and set off the fire alarm.

It wasn’t going well, but I didn’t give up. After several bad experiences with the stove I decided to just stick to salads and deli meats for several years.

Eventually I studied abroad in Italy and learned a few simple pasta and vegetable dishes from my roommates.

It wasn’t until four years later that I discovered the farmers market and finally started cooking meals I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to share with someone.

Of course you wouldn’t know any of that if you just saw the Darya of today.

People look at my pictures on Instagram and Facebook and assume I’ve always been a great cook. As if I’d always known how to sauté veggies or roast a chicken.

But it took me years of stumbling my way through the kitchen to figure these things out.

Cooking without recipes is incredibly powerful. It gives you the ability to make something delicious from almost anything.

The cooking process itself is faster and easier. And you never have to worry about slaving over something that turns out inedible.

But learning how to cook without recipes on your own is no small feat. It requires an amount of time and a level of patience that almost none of us can afford these days.

That is why I created a new program to teach you how to cook without recipes in a fraction of the time it took me.

Introducing Foodist Kitchen, a program that teaches you to cook without recipes in just 30 days.


Because there is no substitute for the benefits of cooking at home, and building a lasting cooking habit requires knowing how to cook without recipes, I knew I needed to create a system to shorten the lengthy process of learning on your own.

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 breaks down the individual skills you need to be able to make delicious food without a recipe including:

  • Basic cooking techniques like chopping, sautéing, and roasting
  • How to pair flavors so you know what tastes good together
  • How to cook something until it’s “done”
  • How to streamline your grocery shopping
  • How to “use up” food so nothing goes to waste

Foodist Kitchen is designed to help you overcome the barriers (both internal and external) that keep you from building a lasting cooking habit.

I learned early on that you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him to fish and watch him order pizza for a lifetime––unless you also teach him to cook.

Cooking is one of those skills that is completely life changing once you figure it out, but complicated enough to be something you put off learning forever.

If you enroll in Foodist Kitchen today you’ll solve this problem for life.

Learn more about Foodist Kitchen→


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10 Responses to “How I Learned to Cook Without Recipes”

  1. Tracy K. says:

    I’m on Day 3 of Foodist Kitchen and am so happy I signed up! I’ve always been a follow-a-recipe person who wishes I could open up the fridge and whip up something.

    This course has come at the right time too as I’ve been lax with my healthy eating and exercise. It’s been a great jumpstart to getting back to the way I prefer living. Looking forward to the rest of the lessons!!

  2. Alina says:

    Great post! I learned to cook from my mom whose father owned a restaurant. So she grew up watching the cook and learning from him. She always says that good cooks do things almost instinctively and measure quantities eyeballing so…I learned that way. I should say she is a great cook! We just cook like that using whatever ingredients we have in the fridge. Of course, we follow recipes once in a while, but for every day cooking that is what we do.
    Looking forward to reading your book soon!


  3. Justine says:

    I love your story about learning to cook! I shudder to think of the kind of cook I used to be…

    Darya, do you plan on involving your kid in cooking/teaching them how to cook? I hear about so many people who were told to stay out of the kitchen as kids and consequently were clueless with cooking as adults. (Of course, it’s understandable to keep them out of the kitchen when they are being distracting.)

    • Darya Rose says:

      I don’t have kids, but if I ever make that decision they will certainly be helping me with dinner 😉

      • Justine says:

        Oh, my apologies! I thought I read in an earlier post something about you having a kid; I must’ve mixed someone else’s post up with you. Total brain fart!

  4. My wife is a great cook and rarely cooks with recipes. But I do cringe when she decides to experiment. Sometimes those experimentation’s don’t pan out so well. How to I politely tell her to check out Foodist Kitchen without her getting upset?

  5. AJ says:

    I love this, Darya! I’m in dissertation mode right now, but I’ll be signing up for this program later this summer when I need a break. =]

  6. carolbintx says:

    My married daughter is so overwhelmed by new motherhood, has no time, but wants to cook healthy meals for her family and wants to save money. She’s been stressing out about following recipes. I will be giving this to her for Christmas this year.

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