5 Simple Habits That Keep Me from Getting Bored with Dinner

Spaghetti with Crispy Pancetta, Peas, and Burrata (Image credit: Christine Han)

No matter how much you love cooking, falling into the occasional dinner rut is inevitable. It happens to all of us!

What’s important is that you know how to pull yourself out of it and turn things around. Here’s how I do it with five simple and easy habits that keep me from getting bored with dinner.

Perhaps you simply feel uninspired when it comes to cooking right now. Ever scour the internet for over an hour, looking for dinner recipes, only to turn up empty-handed? Or maybe you feel bored from eating the same things for dinner week after week? Try these tips to turn things around.

Garlicky Broccoli Subs (Image credit: Maria Siriano)

1. Take a break from cooking.

That’s right — step away from the kitchen! Sometimes exactly what I need is a few nights of not cooking. Leave the cooking to someone else if you can, or keep things super simple with scrambled eggs or sandwiches for dinner. Better yet, skip cooking altogether and pick up a rotisserie chicken, order a pizza, try that new takeout place you’ve been eyeing, or go out to dinner.

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2. Try a new type of cuisine.

Make a plan to cook a new-to-you cuisine every so often. It could be once a month or every other month — pick a timeframe that’s realistic and works for you. You’ll be introduced to new ingredients, maybe some new cooking techniques, and hopefully you’ll find some great meals to add to your regular dinner repertoire.

Our Readers’ 10 Favorite Timeless Cookbooks (Image credit: Faith Durand)

3. Dive into a new cookbook.

You know that cookbook that’s sitting on your shelf? The one you’ve been meaning to get around to using? Now’s the time! Pick out a few recipes and get cooking. Have a favorite cookbook that hasn’t been used in a long time? Pull it off the shelf and start using it again.

20 Quick Dinners to Add to Your Weekly Meal Plan (Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. Start meal planning.

Pick out recipes that excite you, and create a meal plan for the week ahead. Yes, it takes a little bit of work and some planning, but once it’s in place, the benefits are many. Aside from making fewer trips to the store during the week, spending less on groceries, and cutting down on food waste, the biggest payoff for me is not hitting 5 p.m. with no idea of what to make for dinner.

Miso-Buttered Mushrooms & Noodles (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. Make just a small change to your go-to meals.

This falls into the camp of small changes making big payoffs. No need to load up on totally new ingredients, or cook a new recipe — just make small changes or substitutions to things you’re already cooking. If you love eating pasta, consider swapping out tomato sauce for a fresh pesto. Try cooking your favorite chicken dish with thighs instead of breasts. Swap out quinoa for freekeh. These small but mighty changes can give an old recipe an entirely new life.

What keeps you from getting bored with dinner?