Cooking Rut

Readers often ask for tips on how to escape the pattern of eating the same meals again and again. So this week, we’re sharing an excerpt from Always Delicious (pages 46-47) that details eleven ways to get out of a food rut. We’ve also included a new tip that always works for us when we feel stuck! Let us know in the comments what helps you get out of food ruts!

Getting out of Cooking Ruts

Many of us are creatures of habit, and tend to make the same familiar recipes over and over again. A repertoire of beloved recipes in rotation may save effort, but can also make for a food rut. As the quality of your diet improves, your palate likely will evolve. To keep things interesting and allow for continued growth, change something on a regular basis. Choose a few of these suggestions (or make up your own) and mark them on your calendar for automatic rut prevention.

  1. Make one recipe you’ve never tried from Always Hungry? or Always Delicious. Are you sure you’ve tried them all?
  2. Join a local CSA to receive a package of fresh produce each week or two. Then find creative ways to incorporate the changing seasonal items.
  3. Once a month, try one food you thought you didn’t like, to see if your tastes have changed.
  4. If you eat meat at most meals, try a plant-based variation of any Always Hungry? or Always Delicious recipe.
  5. Invite a friend over to cook with you. Their food ruts might just inspire you and vice versa.
  6. Explore an ethnic restaurant for new ideas about flavor combinations. Looking at menus online can provide inspiration even if you don’t eat out.
  7. Choose a basic ingredient you enjoy, and challenge yourself to find new ways to use it.
  8. Make your favorite herbs into softened butter or olive oil and serve as a garnish with plain proteins like steak, chicken, fish, tofu, or tempeh.
  9. Identify one entirely new ingredient each month and find out how to use it (go online for inspiration).
  10. Enroll in a culinary class to learn new techniques, or find some free cooking videos online.
  11. Do a reset by cooking the first 2 to 3 weeks’ menus from Always Hungry? 
  12. BONUS TIP: Discover a new cookbook that you’ve never tried before, either in a book store or online. Recipes are truly never-ending! Our newest favorite is Food: What the Heck Should I Cook? by Mark Hyman.