If you’re an absolute slave to recipes, you’ll know just how amazing it would be to know how to cook without a recipe. When you’re a recipe slave, you end up with a heap of random ingredients. They either go off or languish in the back corner of your cupboard or fridge, making all this food waste. Or, you end up eating the saaame thing over and over again (because you don’t have time to learn 365 recipes to keep things different every night of the week).

To free yourself from this tyranny, we created a series on what’s truly worked on our own journey to feed ourselves like a total boss, rather than let recipes boss us around. And if you’d rather be trying this out with some mates, check out Cookluck Club!

Step one? Understanding what actually makes a meal, so we can stop thinking in terms of random ingredients, and start thinking in food groups.

What even is a meal anyway?

If you want to know how to get dinner on the table, all you really need are roughly:

  • 1 part carbs, eg.
    • pasta
    • bread
    • rice
    • potatoes
  • 1 part protein, eg.
    • lentils/pulses/legumes/nuts/seeds
    • meat/fish
    • dairy
  • 2-3 parts veggies/fruits
    • the bright colourful stuff at your greengrocer or farmers market
what-is-a-meal

Why the formula helps

Knowing this rough formula will help you actually source and prep your food better.

When you’re shopping, filling your basket will be a lot easier because you’ll be able to:

  • get whatever’s seasonal or “on special” (or growing out of your backyard)
  • avoid getting overwhelmed
  • spend less time meal planning
  • buy the right amounts of the food you need
  • handle one of those food box deliveries, which contain what’s growing from local farms, rather than eating limp veggies shipped to you from far off distant lands

When it comes time to cook, you’ll be able to

  • practise a little creativity and possibly be the first to create and try the best dish ever
  • eat more what you feel like, rather than feeling like a slave to your meal plan
  • pre-prep single parts to make fast but flexible meals throughout the week (aka meal lego)
  • easily upcycle your favourite leftovers with whatever other parts you already have
  • avoid last-minute runs to the shop or take-out because you can’t be arsed running to the shop

The next step

Just because strawberries and radishes are in season, doesn’t mean you should put them together in your next meal. So how do you know what veggies can go with what?

Let’s delve into how we make sure stuff will taste good!

Bonus: if you want to get the best tasting veg around, hit up Ooooby Sydney and get your veggies and fruit delivered! Ooooby supports local sustainable farmers (many of them organic), and provides whatever is actually growing on the farm, meaning you’re eating truly seasonally (a major plus for being able to cook with what you’ve got!). Use code OOOOBYFM and you’ll be supporting YFM’s work with every box you get delivered, which is pretty damn sweet.

Image credits: Unsplash, Zo Zhou

Zo Zhou

Zo Zhou

Zo is the National Communications Manager and will basically never shut up about vegetables.

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