This is quite a transformation (and proof you can do it too) considering the first email I ever received from Lane Morris Buckman, started out, “I am not a natural cook.  In fact, I have set on fire or set off the smoke detectors in every kitchen I’ve ever cooked,” back in December 5th, 2009. Her willingness to learn was

already apparent when she carried on with, “My red-meat-and-potatoes-only husband is a convert to your turkey burgers, and my four year-old who usually refuses soup, has actually eaten your recipes.  I’m not sure how to convey what a big deal that is in my household!” I’m thrilled Lane has now moved on from trying the odd recipe to trying the full Personal Chef Approach (or PCA). Sassy and fearless as ever, this is her review of the process. Maybe it will give you the courage to try it too?


Lane Morris Buckman

Lane Morris Buckman

The personal chef approach.  It sounds daunting to a non-cook like me.  Just the word “chef” is intimidating for someone who has trouble making a decent grilled cheese sandwich.  But I am nothing if not willing to try, so when Julie Anne posted her first weekly menu, I took her grocery list, added it to my own and set out to conquer my stove.  Two hours and some change after starting, I had my refrigerator loaded with containers and was pretty satisfied that I had made a smart choice in getting the Premium Membership to

What I Loved

  1. I loved looking at my refrigerator when I was finished, knowing that I’m not going to have to wonder what to cook when I get home Monday night, and that even if I am wrung out from a day at the office, all I have to do is heat up a fabulous meal for my family.
  2. I loved the clear instructions for prep and serving.  As I was reading through the menu and recipes, before I realized there were instructions, I thought, “Oh no…how am I ever going to do this in an afternoon?”  But then I discovered the “how-to” guide, and that’s when I got excited.
  3. I loved the flexibility.  My family is very picky.  I am picky about meat, and my husband and son are picky about vegetables.  Julie Anne offered substitution options in nearly every recipe, so I was able to satisfy my turkeyphobia and save my husband and son from their horror of broccoli.
  4. I loved the personal notes from the Chef.  Julie Anne’s personal notes about how certain items are a staple in her house, or how she dives into others for snacks made me feel like I was working with someone, not just in it alone.
  5. I loved the variety of the menu.  My family isn’t likely to get bored with the variety presented, and by getting creative and making substitutions, I should be able to sneak in some green veggies now and then.

What I Liked

  1. I liked the recipes.  I was cooking outside my comfort zone, and some of the menu items felt advanced to my beginner hands, but I was able to complete every item without too much trouble.
  2. I liked the ingredients.  For some of the menu items, I was stocking a whole new shelf on my pantry, and that is an expense, but from the taste testing I was doing as I went, a good one!
  3. I liked that there were side dishes included.  I am excited to serve these recipes to my family.  I will still have to offer up the Ranch Style Beans the boys demand, but I will also be able to put some other healthy options on the plate.

What I Worked Around

  1. No one told me how sweaty I was going to get!  Seriously, this is work!
  2. I bought pre-minced garlic, fresh ginger in a tube, and paste for some of the herbs needed because it was easier, and I didn’t have to worry about buying new tools–or chopping off the tips of my fingers.
  3. My kitchen is smaller than some closets, so I didn’t have a lot of room for prep stations, or cooling down.  I used a lot of Ziplock bags and had to stop and do dishes halfway through.

Lane Morris Buckman

You know what was the best surprise of all? I had fun!  I’m hoping my girlfriend gets a membership, too.  Then we can do our shopping together and share prep.  Either way, this worked out very well for me, a total novice.

Julie Anne Rhodes and The Personal Chef Approach

Thank you so much for having the courage to master the personal chef approach, and for taking the time to write about it Lane. Trust me, I get hot and sweaty too! You came up with clever short cuts, and you’re right – you can turn it into more fun sharing the prep and a few giggles with a friend. It is such a relief not to worry about cooking again for another week isn’t it? I hope you spend some of that extra time with Nicole writing a sequel to The Order of the Blood!

Be sure to join us at if you haven’t already, and be entered into the Jewels t-shirt give-away! For the price of just one Starbucks coffee, you’ll learn how to feed your family delicious, healthy, home cooked meals for a month, or you can try the do-it-yourself approach with our FREE membership!

So how are the rest of you getting along? Is the Personal Chef Approach clear enough yet? Any questions for me? Another Inside Dish with more PCA tips will be emailed to you all next week!

« Previous PostNext Post »
  • May 10, 2011
    3:19 am

    I’m right there with Lane. (Although I’m still working on my 5 y/o princess to eat this stuff!) This weekend I made German Pot Roast, Goat cheese stuffed chicken breast, oven fried cod, and meatloaf (my own recipe). I now have dinners all week plus more in my freezer. Had the German Pot roast last night. Absolutely delicious!

    Julie Anne, your recipes are really well written and your writing style and tips make it really easy! I’m officially a convert and can’t wait for the new menu!