Simple Food: How to cook with 4 ingredients



Just because a dish includes only a few ingredients, it doesn’t mean you need to compromise on taste and enjoyment. Reducing the number of ingredients in a dish has many benefits:

  1. Shopping becomes easier and quicker
  2. Spending less time on preparation
  3. You can really enjoy the flavours of the few ingredients you do use.

Fresh food tastes fantastic, so why not let them stand out rather than masking them behind unnecessary ingredients? Sounds like a metaphor for a life of essentialism doesn’t it?

Keep it quick, keep it simple

In this modern busy world, no one ever seems to have enough time. We all try to cram as much as possible into a single day and often the first thing that falls by the wayside is cooking. The last thing you want to do is to spend an hour in the supermarket hunting for ingredients, then going home and preparing them before finally cooking yourself a meal. There is always the temptation to call for a takeaway, or buy a ready prepared microwave meal.

Crazy isn’t it?

The most important thing – Β our health & our body fuel – becomes our lowest priority.

Why don’t you download my editable meal planner (available here), to help you start planning your recipes so you don’t fall into this trap!


Sometimes when you have had a hectic day at work, all you want is to sit down with a tasty home cooked meal. Well…. we have good news, cooking doesn’t need to be a complex and time consuming chore. It is incredibly easy to make delicious dishes using just a few simple ingredients.

The key to success lies in the ingredients you choose, and how you prepare and cook them.

Use the right ingredients

Combine basic ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, herbs and spices. Also make use of pre-prepared products such as curry pastes and pastry. Using these convenient products is a great way to save time, both on preparation and and shopping, and can enhance the dishes final taste. (e.g have you ever tried to make your own puff pastry?! It is enormously difficult to make, whilst the store bought varieties are delicious)

When buying your ingredients, always try to buy the freshest, best quality basics you can. This will give you maximum flavour and higher nutritional content. If you can afford organic, do so.

Try and buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. There are so many fabulous ingredients at their peak in their own season. Why buy tired looking asparagus in autumn when you can get plenty of mushrooms and root vegetables, that can create a variety of delicious dishes.


To explore this idea of essential cooking a little further, every Friday I will share some of my favourite minimal recipes.

Whether you are an experienced cook or an absolute beginner you will find these recipes super useful! I will share recipes for every occasion, drinks, desserts, healthy breakfasts and light lunches to make when time is tight.

Every recipe will have four ingredients or fewer, and the only other items will you need will be store cupboard essentials, such as salt, pepper, butter, oils etc.

Last week I shared with you a gorgeous simple Caipirinha recipe that you can try out to quench your thirst before you see more of these delicious time saving recipes!


Simple Joy was founded by Hayley Forster, a Wellness & Lifestyle Coach. Hayley is an advocate of intentional living, with a passion in helping others simplify their lives in order to find their ideal lifestyle full of contentment, creativity and authenticity!

  • Angela at The Fancy Ranch Life
    June 13, 2017

    This is a great idea. Sometimes when you get too many ingredients you can’t even taste them so you wonder why you used them all. I much rather cook with fewer ingredients and actually know what’s in my food!

    • SimpleAdmin
      Angela at The Fancy Ranch Life
      June 13, 2017

      excatly! Plus my favourite benefit of it not being very complex haha!

  • Amanda Maxwell
    June 14, 2017

    I love this!! I love to cook and create and while I am not very good this offers me some great tips to make it better!

  • Katherine
    June 15, 2017

    I need to do more of this for sure! I have spells of being really good and then it just goes out the window! πŸ˜‚

  • Leslie
    June 17, 2017

    It seems like I have negative time to make dinner during these busy summer days. Striving to make meals with 4 ingredients or less is right up my alley. Thanks for the tips!

    • SimpleAdmin
      June 17, 2017

      Totally get that! Me too, simplicity is key. I am a fan of cooking but not every night. I need simple delicious recipes to have so I can be prepared in advance and not spend hours at the stove every night!

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