Day 12: Ask Yourself 3 Questions About Your Dinner Habits

The Cooking Cure Spring 2014

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Day 12: Tuesday, March 18
Assignment: Review yesterday's list and rethink your dinner habits
The Cooking Cure: See all assignments so far here

What gets in your way when it comes to making dinner each night? That's the main question we're talking about today. Is it time in the evening to cook? Is it boredom with the same old meals night after night? Is it a new diet that's thrown all your usual meals out the window?

Today, let's take a hard look at what's going on with our dinner routine — and then think about some new goals and habits we want to make!

Take a Good Hard Look at Your Dinner Habits

Have yesterday's list handy? Ok, now spend some time just looking it over. If there are other family members involved in dinner planning, pull them over for a consultation. Here's where we really figure out what's going on with dinner and how to make it better.

What meals jump out to you — the ones you would eat again in a heartbeat as well as the ones that left you uninspired and hungry? Which meals are fine...but you've made them so often, your tastebuds are bored senseless? Are there specific foods that stand out? Or foods that you're surprised are missing?

Take one step back from these specific meals and also give some thought to your meal habits. Are you the type of person (or family) that needs something new every night, or can you happily eat the same leftovers for several days? Do you start the week with good plans, but they always seem to go awry by midweek — what comes up that gets in the way? Are your mid-week meals too ambitious? Do you need to plan ahead better?

As we talked about with our breakfast and dinner habits, the idea here is not to feel ashamed of your current habits or judge yourself harshly. We're going for an honest assessment of where things are so that you can start making clear decisions about what you want to change.

Ok, let's get some of this deep thinking down on paper!

Today's Assignment (Time Estimate: 20 minutes)

  1. What Am I Tired of Eating? Take a pen and cross off any foods on your list that you need a break from eating. Cross off whole meals (no more "cheese and cracker" dinners) or even just individual ingredients (if I eat anymore tofu, I'll turn into a soybean). Cross off whatever bores you or you'd like to ban from your daily meals — even if only temporarily.
  2. What Do I Love Eating? Go back over what's left and circle the foods that you really love. These are the things you look forward to eating or that never fail to make dinner interesting. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
  3. What Would I Like to Eat More Often? Off to the side, start a list of meals or foods that you'd really like to start eating more often. Maybe you want to branch out into a new kind of cuisine, or you want to make sure you have a side salad with every meal. Let your instincts guide you here!

With all that figured out, let's set some goals:

  1. Set Three Goals: Big picture time! Now that you've decided what foods you want to nix, keep, or add, sum it all up with a few solid goals. What new dinner habits do you want to develop? Your goal might be one new recipe every week, or to start cooking more Indian food. Maybe the goal is to add a few vegetarian meals into the mix or simply to make dinner at all! Think it over and write down your goals now.
  2. Share a Goal: Have a goal you're particularly excited about? Or that you want some help in keeping? We'd love to hear all about it! Share your goal over on our Facebook page or on Twitter with #cookingcure.

Are you running up against a major challenge as you set your goals? Make sure to tell us here in the comments or on social media with the #cookingcure hashtag and if we can we'll give some resources to help in our series of Cure My Cooking Problem posts.

Three Imaginary Cure-Takers

As we thought through this part of the Cooking Cure, there were a few types of goals that we imagined we'd see popping up most frequently. We'll be making a special effort this week to bring those of you who relate to these "imaginary Cure-takers" some tips and ideas to help you along:

  1. The "Boredom is Killing Me" Cook: It's always the same old dinner. Yawn. I need some fresh ideas to get me excited about dinner again.
  2. The Last-Minute Cook: I never seem to have time to cook the meals I want to cook, so I end up throwing together a quick (and boring) meals of whatever is easy or in the fridge. I need help thinking through a meal-planning and getting into some good dinner-making habits.
  3. The New Diet Cook: I just started a new diet routine and am struggling to find meals that fit with my plan. I need some help learning out to cook within my food restrictions — while also staying excited about what I'm eating!

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(Image credits: The Kitchn; Gina Eykemans; Leela Cyd; Dana Velden)