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The No Recipe Cookbook

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Loved it! 😍

It really is that: a no recipe guide to home cooking using fresh ingredients, adding your own flair with love while saving time and money.

The title intrigued me, and as a keen home cook I thought I should see what a no recipe cookbook was all about. From the beginning it held my attention, and indeed was exactly what the title says: a No Recipe Cookbook.


In her dedication Dr Pillay says this book was dedicated to “building a better future for us all. Dedicated to everyone where their past or present has hindered them being the best version of themselves.”


In the Foreword, written by Dr James Meucke, he says he has seen a lot of Type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of blindness in working age adults in Australia (where the book was written). And, he adds, this diabetes is almost entirely preventable – by eating correctly. We eat far too much sugar, refined carbohydrates and junk food – and by doing more home cooking we can easily control that as you know exactly what is in your food. “Your health is in your hands”.


Samantha Pillay says that with the advent of Covid 19, she also changed her shopping habits so that she only ventured into the supermarkets once every two weeks, and later, every three weeks and, with careful planning her home cooking became simpler, easier and a lot cheaper than ordering in or buying take-aways on the way home from work. It was quicker and easier to eat at home, she says. And in a simple easy-to-follow guide she shows just how she managed a full-time job, cooking for her family, doing school lunch boxes, office lunches and healthy meals including hearty weekend breakfasts. And what makes it so easy to follow is her simple premise that “the best food is food prepared with love, and the best place to start is with yourself.”


So, to get organised she starts with a list. Plan your meals – not down to the last detail, but in broad strokes so that you can make a proper shopping list, and then stick to it. As she says, keep it simple so that it is stress free. Make use of your freezer, use your microwave, invest in a slow cooker if you can and she indulged in a bread machine, which gives the house a lovely warm, bread smell at least twice a week.


So, beginning with planning evening meals, she suggests using up the fresh ingredients first, giving you the most savings in money, time and calories. Day 1, first up is a Stir-fry. This uses fresh, crisp veggies and whatever meat you choose. But, she points out, be organised. Have everything cut up and ready to go before you start cooking. Giving basic directions, Samantha says don’t use olive oil or butter in your pan or wok as they don’t have a high enough cooking temperature; use sunflower or canola oil instead. And instead of any recipe she gives a list of possible ingredients you can use, to suit your taste and mood. Easy.


Next up are basic fish cakes, then mince in a variety of forms, from simple mince with rice to spaghetti Bolognese or meatballs with a luscious tomato sauce.


What I loved was her pragmatic approach to those tasks that could be daunting, like making snacks, biscuits, lunches and the like. For biscuits, she gives a basic proportion of sugar, butter and flour – and then adds a list of possible variations that would turn the simplest biscuit into a delight for any occasion.


This is definitely a book I will be going back to, and taking ideas from. It is more than a cookbook; it is an inspirational little guide to happier shopping, cooking and eating which should endure long past the advent of Covid 19.

Reviewed by

A journalist in South Africa, I moved to the UK. Assistant Editor of magazines, then into corporate communication. Fellow of IABC Author of Cry of the Rocks, and two romances. Won SA Writers' Circle book awards twice. Numerous reviews.

About the author

Dr Samantha Pillay has devoted her surgical career to treating incontinence. Her journey has broadened her interests beyond surgery to include education, writing, public speaking, business and leadership. Time management, meal planning and simple home cooking are an essential part of her life. view profile

Published on December 18, 2020

40000 words

Genre: Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits

Reviewed by