Do you often look down at your plate and think, This again? Does making dinner feel like a chore? Has cooking become boring? Sounds like you're in a dinner rut. Here are five ideas for getting out of it and making the evening meal fun again.
1. Try new recipes. Sounds simple enough, but how many times do you bookmark a bunch of recipes or dog-ear the pages of a food magazine and never look at those recipes again? Try incorporating one new recipe a week into your meal rotation and make a note of the keepers. It helps to create a folder — either physical or online — to stash recipes you find that are legitimate dinner candidates, so you have them all in one place.
2. Buy a new ingredient. Pick up a vegetable you've never tried at the farmers market, a new type of grain at the grocery store, or an unusual condiment at an ethnic market. If you're not sure how to use it, ask the seller, a knowledgeable-looking fellow shopper or Google. (Or you can always ask us!) You just might find a new dinner staple.
3. Eat out. Try changing up your order at a favorite restaurant, or going to a new restaurant for inspiration. Places that change their menus based on the seasons are especially good sources for new ideas. Make note of flavor, texture or ingredient combinations that you love, or even plating tricks that make dinner look more appealing.
4. Get your family involved. If you usually come up with the dinner menu every night on your own, try asking your partner or kids for their input on the weekly meals. You might be surprised and even inspired by what they want to eat, and they are likely to be more interested in the dinner that comes pre-stamped with their seal of approval.
5. Keep a dinner diary. Remove the burden of planning and remembering from your brain and put it in a notebook or spreadsheet. This makes it easy to look back and find the dinners that were a big hit, and expand your repertoire beyond the small number of meals you can remember offhand.
What are your best tips for getting out of a dinner rut?
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