5 Tips for getting out of a cooking rut
Bored of the same five meals you always seem to cook? Staying inspired in the kitchen can be tough, especially if you've got a family to feed and a job that keeps you busy all day.
Finding fresh ideas that are also quick and healthy isn't as daunting as it seems. We've put together some simple but effective strategies for beating mealtime boredom.
Pick up some unfamiliar ingredients
When the items in your shopping cart are the same week in and week out, it can be difficult to figure out new ways to use them. We're not suggesting you skip your favourite items, but it can be helpful to add a few new foods to the mix. If you always buy spinach, try Swiss chard or kale. Instead of regular white potatoes, get a few sweet potatoes. Rather than chicken this week, try a new kind of fish. Trade rice for another grain, like quinoa. The point is to explore ingredients you might not usually use. Bring them home, and find ways to incorporate them into your next dinner.
Organize a favourite recipe exchange
Send an email to various friends and family members who enjoy cooking, and ask them if they would like to participate in a recipe exchange. Anyone who wants to take part should send their email address in a "reply all" message, and then everyone involved can send links to their go-to recipes. This way you can get a sense of what other people are cooking regularly and take the opportunity to try some new dishes that already come with a stamp of approval from people you know.
Ask for ideas from your family
Being the main chef and shopper for your family can sometimes be frustrating, and it's common to get to a point where you just don't know what to make anymore. Shift some of the responsibility for menu ideas to your spouse and/or children. Ask them to come up with a list of meals they would like to have and to supply recipes for whatever meals they've chosen. Sometimes you just need a few new suggestions to get your cooking mojo back and to break free of any boredom you've been feeling in the kitchen.
Get inspired online
Between online food magazines, food blogs and other websites that offer drool-worthy photos of delicious-looking food, there's no shortage of recipe inspiration online. We suggest starting with Foodgawker and TasteSpotting, two sites that aggregate food blog content and showcase pages upon pages of food photos worth checking out. Clicking on an image will take you to the page where the recipe originated so you can easily get started cooking.
Take a cooking class
Is there a cuisine you've always wanted to master? If so, why not sign up for a cooking class to get re-inspired in the kitchen? Learn to make an authentic Indian curry, homemade pasta or to master the art of rolling sushi — whatever piques your interest. Most cooking classes include a list of recipes you've worked on so you recreate what you made at home.