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Like to win a FREE place in ‘Master Your Meal Plan’?

To enter just leave a comment below answering the following question…

How would your life be different if you were able to ‘reverse’ your meal plan and cook without recipes? What changes would we see?

I’d really love to hear your story.

ENTRIES CLOSE: Tuesday 27th September 2016.

The winners are:
Mr James Barrett
Barbara Gibson
Suzanne Lloyd

The winners have been emailed.

the fine print:
* The winning entrants will be notified by Facebook or email.
* The winners will be announced here and on Stonesoup Wednesday 28th September 2016.
* The judge’s decision will be final and no other correspondence shall be entered into.



Registration for Master Your Meal Plan is NOW OPEN





  • I’d finally be able to balance making my own food (instead of eating out) with the million and one other things I have going on!

  • I’d finally be rid of my hate for cooking, it would relieve my husband from this responsibility, and I would be able to provide healthy meals for my family rather than my go to prepackaged junk.

  • I want to keep my husband and myself healthy and active for a long life. I feel that food and good meals are the building blocks of a healthy life. We grow a lot of our own food, for example: egg, chicken and most of our vegetables and fruit. My problem is when I have such abundance I become overwhelmed, and do not know what to do.

  • I wouldn’t have to worry about not having anything to make for dinner when there are random things in the fridge! I might be able to put them together into something yummy :)

  • It would be transformational! So much time and food gets wasted at the moment because after a long day I just don’t have the energy to cook the meal that I had planned. And then I end up just eating junk. Learning to do this better would make it possible for me to be much healthier (something I’m really trying to prioritise at the moment)

  • I have diabetes and high cholesterol, plus have a chronic illness that robs me of “spoons”, and need to start preparing more food at home. I’m a rather decent cook (already follow some of your suggestions–I’ve read the transcript) and almost always swap out ingredients for what I have, or prefer, but meal planning is the difficult part. The one time I actually tried “proper” (apparently IMproper) meal planning, I spent almost two hours writing out ingredients lists, combining the same ingredients into a net volume/weight, etc, THEN went shopping and even though my list was organised, I spent more time than normal, when I’m completely DISorganised.

    I need to learn how to reverse engineer easy but healthy meals that don’t require a lot of standing-up time.

  • I would be able to better use the huge amount of fresh produce in my garden! I would be able to save money and cook with less stress in following recipes.

  • I am so looking forward to your videos (I have downloaded the transcript).
    Meal planning is a huge problem for me, as my partner works shifts which vary every week from 6 am to 3 pm (portable lunch at work + diner at home) to 12 to 9 pm (very early lunch at home + late portable diner at work). These oddly-timed meals times can be a real hassle if we want to eat fresh food.

  • I LOVE to cook without recipes… but there have been some inedible failures like dried beans that never cooked, burnt offerings, even mystery GLOP. Sometimes I get great results then can’t reproduce them. Then there’s the PICKY EATER in the house and some major weight control issues. I love your whole philosophy but am not sure I know enough about foods and cooking to abandon very careful meal planning. Please, prove me wrong!

  • I would have less stress in the kitchen, when everyone is hungry and I have to find the book where I picked up this wonderful recipe three months ago who would fit so well with what is left in the fridge! :-( That would make my life so easy! And I would teach it to my 3 years old daughter who loves already be with me in the kitchen.

  • I would stop relying on meal delivery services, or the tedium of week-out planning/prepping. I would have FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY of “eating out” and “fast food”, but with better nutrition.

  • If I were able to ‘reverse’ our meal plan and cook without recipes I would be free to save money, eat healthy, and have time to pursue my passion of working with people on a flexible schedule. It is a great concept that could hopefully revolutionize and free those of us struggling with fruitless meal planning. Thank you for hope in this area.

  • As a recovering cancer patient, my energy levels are often low and yet it is important that I eat healthy meals. Sometimes I’ve found that I’m worn out just by the meal planning, not to mention the shopping and then the time in preparation. It seems as though reversing the “process” could be worth the time in learning how to do. Knowing what to look for when I shop (& hopefully saving time in this area), and being able to have simple, healthy ingredients on-hand for days when I don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking would be of such benefit. I’m looking forward to learning more about your methods and am hopeful that I’ll be able to improve the entire process of getting healthy meals on the table. Thank you!

  • Pretty sure I’ll be able to save money, make more dinners at home and pack some good lunches for work. A win-win for sure.
    Looking forward to the next vids Jules!

  • I have always used recipes to cook and so have had to plan meals. That’s 20 years of meal planning just since I’ve had kids! Unfortunately that’s fostered a belief that I can’t cook unless I have a recipe and so now I won’t even try. It doesn’t help that my new partner is an amazing intuitive cook!
    So Jules, if I could reverse my dependency on meal planning and feel confident to cook without recipes, it would be the most liberating experience for me. I’d be able to let go of my belief that I’m not an intuitive or creative cook or that cooking isn’t my thing. And that’s a skill I’d love to pass onto my teenage daughters who have only seen me cook in that structured way.
    Plus, I could really surprise my partner!

  • You video was awesome to watch! I especially was drawn into the experience of letting go and being relaxed and unwinding when cooking after a long day. I can’t even imagine that. Well, yes, I really can. It feels amazing. Tears in my eyes as I type experience a made up feeling that I have created just by listening to you talk about it. I would love that. I don’t know how to get it though, so I’m excited to watch you next few video to try and get that feeling when it’s time to cook. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I appreciate it. Peace.

  • I absolutely love the IDEA of “non-planning meal-planning,” and over the past years have had several false starts at it. But come what may, I always settle back into my weekly meal-plan document on the fridge, spending an hour or two stressing over what to make every week. I have 3 kiddos, one more on the way, and we school at home, which makes for a busy day. I would love some help!!

  • We have recently transitioned from a lovely homestead with an amazing garden to a tiny (mobile) house. Meal preparation (and planning/shopping) has been turned on its ear. I feel like I need to adapt (and learn a new approach/new skills) so our desire for a simple and healthy lifestyle can be supported in the kitchen as well. (And it would be helpful for my heart and soul…I love preparing healthy, delicious foods and at present food has become stressful–yikes!). [Thank you!]

  • Ha-ha:] I would be able to shop the Farmers Market and do CSA without trying to find recipes, or have sad refrigerator buddies:/

  • Meal planning (meal failing?) has been a HUGE problem for me since I had my first kid 8 years ago. I get to the end of the day and realize I don’t want what we had planned to make and neither does anyone else and I’m at square one again. This all applies to me. It could be a huge game-changer to have the skills to create…huge.

  • Since my children have left home and I’ve sadly become a widow I’ve struggled to plan and cook healthy only for me!
    It would be awesome to cook without a recipe that are usually for more than one person but just for me hopefully utilising fresh vegetables and fruits that are on special and also saving money by buying some products that are near the use by date but perfectly fine and turning them into something delicious.

  • I would experience less guilt and a simpler less stressful life! I’ve been doing meal planning on and off for years and always feel so guilty about all the waste, unused items when plans changed and/or I started following a new diet that, items not on the list purchased that then go off. I would have my Sundays back and time to do other things I enjoy, and not buy takeaway all week when I was too busy on the weekend to meal plan. I could save money getting the organic seasonal box and know how to use the ingredients!!

  • I’m an emotional eater and cooking was/is a necessity rather than a pleasure. I tried meal planning but as you say something always comes up. When my partner died, what motivation I did have to make good meals and take the time to sit down and eat them went right out the window. Being on my own, I find I waste a lot of food that I buy, I skip meals or I eat unhealthy foods just to fill the void. I would love to learn to look in the refrigerator and see possibilites. I’m not hugely overweight but I would be healthier if I could lose 10 kg. My goal is to learn to look at food as an offering of respect to my body.

  • I would actually get to eat a proper meal more often rather then just grabbing a “something” to eat in the evening–good balanced meals would help me in all sorts of ways !!

  • It would be great to use the fresh garden produce we grow, in new and different ways. The same old same old gets boring when it all comes ready at the same time. I hate wasting it if I can’t give the surplus away to someone.

  • I have diabetes and was just diagnosed with Charcot a degenerative disease from the diabetes where the bones in my foot dissolve. Only prevention get blood sugar under control. So I need to be cooking healthy. Only problem. I HATE TO COOK. hate it. The only recipes I’ve found that work for me are your 15 minute under 5 ingredient recipes. I even tried your meal plans but some of the recipes were too complex. Maybe if I could do the meal planning I could figure out his to make my own easy fast re pies and save my life.

  • Wow I would feel like some sort of Master Chef being able to put this and that together and create a meal that is healthy and tastes good. I would not waste food as I do so often and get out the rut of fixing the same things over and over. I could enjoy grocery shopping and cooking. My husband would be so happy not having to make grocery trips to get something or return something. We might actually lose some weight, not continue to find it again. Oh happy days!!

  • I pretty much do not plan meals , I always ask my husband what do you fancy for dinner and he would be very kind as to say soup or salad , anything you cook is delicious ,but I know for sure , he would like something more ,
    I would go supemaketing and then decide what is on the shelves and cook on the recepies which I have handy in my phone .
    To be able to walk into my kitchen without a recepie book and whipping up a meal base on my Pantry would be a bonus .

  • what a great idea to use a template for meal design.
    seems like the best of creativity and nutrition and the best price.

  • Going back to work after my second child has been harder than I thought. I’d love not to get home tired and flustered still having to think of something heathy and nutritious to cook my family. I may even have time to actually play with my kids ?

  • There are 3 ‘problems’ that can prevent me eating a generally balanced diet.
    1. I live alone & have bipolar disorder which, though generally well controlled, when it isn’t means I have no energy & therefore eat poorly. I am also prediabetic so really do need to look after myself.
    2. I have severe lower back injury that will never be resolved. It means on a good day I can stand for 5 – 7 minutes at the most then have to sit or lean if I am unable to sit. As a result I cannot spend hours preparing & freezing individual meals as I used to. I am on a pension so cannot afford preprepared meals.
    3. I am obese and desperately not only need but want to loose weight. I am in one of those ironic situations where I can walk as long as it is not too hilly or unstable underfoot but cannot stand for long, & am now walking 22 minutes 5 plus days a week. Each Monday I add what I can tolerate & have been advised 30 minutes walking, back exercises that I do everyday & hip exercises I have been doing since I had my hip replacement in Nov. 2012 plus my soon to be added strength training all help not only the areas they are designed for but my back, as well as helping losing weight. About 7 years ago I lost 26kg in 26 weeks just by doing the above and probably unconsciously modifying my diet. I still had dessert when I went out for a meal.
    I do have a tendency to ramble on!!

  • It wouldn’t be just my life that would be changed forever! It would be those of my children. And then hopefully their children. I believe that we learn a lot from our mothers and how they are in the kitchen (ie: relaxed, stressed, etc) and that impacts how we fuel our bodies and minds. If I were a better stress free cook then hopefully my daughter and son will learn that from me.

  • I spend a lot of time looking through cookbooks and cooking blogs looking for recipes. I would like to simplify this process to free up more time. I homeschool my teenage boys, and I am in the kitchen all day.

  • I would be able to have fresh and healthy foods even when my husband has got spontaneous on me. He likes to cook as well and he comes home from work & says “how about I make X tonight? ” To be able to then look in the fridge & pantry and figure what I can make tomorrow is my goal.

  • This would be so freeing for me and life-giving for my family, as we would be eating healthy meals at home, rather than too-often defaulting to fast food. I have for a long time been intrigued by being able to cook without a recipe, and this desire has been reinforced as I have seen this practice first hand visiting my husband’s family in France. This way of life is so appealing to me, and it is something that I would like to learn and a gift that I would like to be able to hand down to my daughter. Thank you this video series! It gives me hope that there is indeed a better way to nourish my family and to enjoy the process!

  • Jules,

    Now that you have called attention to the concept of “template” recipes, I realize that I have been using that general idea when making burgers, tacos and especially pizzas. For example, if my wife and I have leftover lamb from a dinner at our local Egyptian restaurant I might make a pizza dough flavored with cinnamon and spices and use harissa, labneh or haloumi, in addition to the lamb for the toppings. I feel comfortable and creative (even happy) making pizzas from ingredients we have on hand such as a Blackberry, Burrata, Basil Pizza or a Bacon Pistacio Pizza with Pickled Cherries.

    I think I have a good idea how your approach can transform the experience of planning and preparing meals and I am eager to learn to apply these techniques more generally. How would my life be different? My wife and I would be more comfortable, creative and happier preparing food and also when shopping for ingredients.

  • I would find it so freeing and a sign of a confident independent knowledgeable and experienced adult to cook w/o recipes something that others would be excited about too. I like what I conjure up but no one else does! I’d like to put it on the table and, not that anyone would even notice, but that they would LIKE or LOVE the food while they talk talk talk . . . .a pleasant adult evening

  • VFC = I’ve gathered hundreds of wonderful recipes, but I’m usually lacking 1-2 key ingredients for the one I want to make! Then paralysis sets in and I make nothing, letting my husband microwave a pot pie and I eat crackers and cheese or sardines. The hours of planning on the weekend usually end in exhaustion and resentment of the plan; or an inability to muster the enthusiasm needed to still shop and cook; or an unexpected twist of events and I’ve let it all rot in the fridge. Very Frustrating Cycle…

  • Well, after writing my struggles, I went back and re-read your question… “How would my life be different?” I love the positive imagination that it inspires: I would no longer feel the dread and guilt as the end of the day approaches! I would enter my kitchen with a confidence and a peace that permeates the room, food and meal, creating a vastly better atmosphere for conversation and digestion. I visited a relative whose wife cooks this way and it was very palpable! She was Calmly slicing, dicing, & stirring without stress and tension, and was relaxing, smiling and humming!!!
    I would love to create that kind of food and ambience and that skill would transform my life, weight and health! Thank you for helping me create a vision and promising some “legs” to make it happen!!

  • I’m sure I would be more relaxed, but I also wonder about getting bored with what I was fixing. One of the things I like about recipes is the ideas for combining flavors. My husband seems to be able to function just fine with your style of meal planning, and he’s come up with some interesting meals. But if it’s just always meat, veggie, starch, to me that takes away the variety I crave. I also am much happier with structure, given how chaotic my life was when I was young. I would love to be able to let go of the structure, and hope I’m not too old to learn to do that.

  • I would not have to stress about cooking meat I defrosted and then did not feel like eating. I would eat what I feel like everyday!

  • I used to be able to shop easily and quickly throw a meal together for myself and my family. Now I have to care for my elderly Mom (age 83) and her nutrition and tastes vary so differently from what I cooked for my children. Everything has to be super soft because she won’t eat with her dentures. She says that they make her gums sore. She doesn’t like Latin American type foods, can’t eat canned tomatoes, is diabetic so avoids pastas. I’m challenged not to be a short-order cook making different meals for everyone. Thank you for this useful training. It seems like it will help.

  • It’s not that I don’t have much time to cook, it’s because I’m bored with cooking the same types of meals for so many years and yet still need to constantly reach for my recipe books. I’m now in my seventies and would love to be inspired to cook off the cuff like my mother and grandmother did so many years ago. They didn’t measure a thing – a bit of this and a bit of that – it tasted so good because they cooked instinctively. After listening to your videos about template cooking, I have come to the conclusion that you, Jules, could be the very person to inspire me! They say it is never too late to learn, don’t they?

  • I’d be able to buy fresh in-season produce on sight knowing I would be able to use them without having to find the recipes before going shopping.

  • As a mum of 3, I love the idea of being able to cook up quick easy meals with the fresh produce from Aussie Farmers Direct. I love to support local farmers, and love having a box of fresh seasonal fruit & veg delivered on my doorstep, however regretfully l had to cancel my deliveries as it was doing my head in trying to workout what to do with a ‘fennel’ or the accumulation of bags of carrots!

  • This is exactly what I need after having a baby late last year. Trying to juggle baby bath/bedtime together with something nutritious for dinner seems insurmountable at the moment. Not to mention the far less time I have to go shopping.

  • Instead of my weekly meal plan controlling me, I would be in control of my weekly meals and I suspect that my confidence would grow in leaps and bounds and make me the bravest cook I have been yet. And I would feel so accomplished and satisfied instead feeling bad each time I “fail” at meals.

  • Being organised in the kitchen – I loved stone soup meal planners, but when there is just one of you and you’re out and about a lot, I ended up with too much waste. Once again I find myself reverting to omelettes.

    Being flexible – I live next door to the supermarket I tend to shop daily to avoid waste. It would be great to be able to cook a meal based on what the supermarket had on offer that day combined with any left overs.

    My own produce – I have an allotment and grow my own veggies. A lot of the time I don’t know what to do with them as they’re hard to work into some of the recipes. It will be fantastic to be able to put the hard work and my home grown veggies to good use .

  • I am just learning to cook properly and recipes tend to be complicated, with too many ingredients (some of which I do not like or cannot find) so that you have to spend hours planning and grocery shopping – I hate that in particular.

    I want to be able to cook something simple and tasty with what I have at my disposal (in my very small kitchen). It would make the whole process less time consuming and stressful, and more fun.

    If it is at all possible, I want cooking not to be a chore, but a hobby I can enjoy on everyday basis :-)

  • Honestly, everyone in my family would be less stressed out! Once upon a time, my husband planned and cooked all the meals while I worked long hours. Now that our roles are changing, I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh and now we have a toddler who needs to eat too!

  • Being able to cook without a recipe would decrease the stress in my house for sure… and probably increase the confidence also. I grew up in a family of good cooks who are all over-confident in their skills but lacked the ability to be good teachers. So I have a hard time cooking for anyone that isn’t be or my husband, just waiting for the harsh remarks I am used to from family that knows how they make it would be “better.”

  • I would save a lot of time & energy. I think I’d actually be able to enjoy putting healthy meals together instead of dreading it like I do now! Being recipe-free would give me a lot more freedom.

  • I am disabled and need an easy way to get healthy meals on the table everyday for my husband and me. I love to cook but have lost the ability to stand in the kitchen for more than a few minutes at a time. Being able to prepare quick meals that nourish our bodies and hearts would be wonderful!

  • If I were to reverse my meal planning and cook without recipes I would be able to reduce my food waste, excite my partner with meals on the fly and cater to my friends with special dietary requirements.

  • I could go straight home without having to stop at the supermarket. Bliss!!!!!!!
    I love the idea Jules but wouldn’t one still need to refer to recipes for inspiration and new ideas?

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