Serving busy parents a key ingredient for success

Kim McCosker and her family.

By Melissa Grant

Kim McCosker’s recipe for success began over a decade ago while on maternity leave for her second child.

The busy mum wanted a cookbook to help her get a quick meal on the table at the end of the day, but couldn’t find one.

Kim thought it was strange such a cookbook was difficult to find given how many parents had little time for meal preparation, so she decided to create her own collection of recipes using four ingredients.

Back then Kim, whose background was in finance, had no idea she would become a global phenomenon.

Never could she have dreamt that initial 4 Ingredients cookbook would become a best-seller, let alone lead to a career as a celebrity cook with titles published in 12 countries and sales topping 9 million.

In the beginning, Kim was simply thinking about how to repay the money she’d redrawn from the family mortgage to fund the first print run.

After spending more than a year collating recipes, Kim and her then business partner were rejected by potential publishers.

“We failed dismally – we couldn’t even get past the gatekeeper, the receptionist,” Kim recalled.

“The second option is to self-publish and that’s essentially what we did.

“I had to take $26,000 out of our family’s mortgage to self-fund initially.

Motivated to repay the money she had taken from the mortgage, Kim knocked on doors to get sales.

“I packed the pram with cookbooks and off we went!”Kim managed to sell around 500 of the 2000 cookbooks printed.

Realising that wheeling a cookbook loaded pram around local neighbourhoods was a time-poor way to distribute, she began focusing on marketing her product.

When a community newspaper in Brisbane’s northern suburbs ran a story about the venture, bookshops called wanting to stock the title and sales began to take off.

Incredibly, the initial 4 Ingredients cookbook has now sold over 3 million copies.

Kim puts much of her success down to the fact that many people like herself don’t have time to follow complex, gourmet meals.

“I love watching Masterchef, but the reality is I walk into my kitchen and go ‘what can I make with puff pastry, egg, bacon and onion’,” she said.

“I’ve got three beautiful boys (aged 11, 14 and 17) and god forbid they want to play the same sport.

“In most cases, I’m walking in the door at 10 to 6 … everyone is starving and saying ‘what’s for dinner?’ and I only have time for four ingredients.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home mum or retiree, the world has never been busier.”

Preparing tasty and inexpensive family meals is the focus throughout Kim’s 34 published cookbooks, which include gluten-free, diabetic and allergy titles.

The collection also features the children focused titles, Kids 4 Ingredients and Baby Bowl.

Currently, Kim’s working on a vegetarian cookbook plus podcast and a pilot for free-to-air TV.

Although she’s flat out, Kim regularly finds time to cook with her sons in the kitchen of their family home at Caloundra.

She encourages parents to get their kids involved in the household meal preparation.

“We all know that cooking helps develop your child’s fine motor skills and it’s also an early basis for maths and science,” she said.

“I love seeing kids in the kitchen.”


One lucky Sunshine Coast Kids Today reader will win one copy each of Baby Bowl AND 4 Ingredients Kids.

For your chance to win, visit and click on competitions.