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Are You Stuck in a Cooking Rut?

I usually like to cook. In fact, I would cook more often if someone else always did the cleanup. At times I can feel like I get stuck in a rut with lack of inspiration leading to the redundancy of the same few recipes. This boredom leads to ordering more takeout and delivery, which often costs more time and money and increases the consumption of less healthy food. If you are finding yourself “stuck in a rut” and lacking inspiration here are a few ideas to shake up your everyday food routine.

A bowl of cereal with berries and nuts

Breakfast
Let’s start with breakfast, do you always eat the same thing? I like having cereal but after a few days it can become monotonous, and I find myself skipping this important meal or grabbing something unhealthy on the way to work. Try adding hot or cold cereal to the routine; include berries or other fruit in your meal or even on your cereal. Did you know adding more protein to breakfast will help you feel fuller longer? Easy sources of protein include eggs, yogurt, or milk. If you are looking for vegetarian or vegan friendly options, you can add a dairy alternative milk, seeds or nuts to your cereal or breakfast smoothie, or beans to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch
Lunch time meal shake ups may depend on your situation and if you have access to kitchen equipment, including a microwave. Salads can be a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and shake up your meal ideas. Check out this recipe for Mason jar burrito bowl salads, another idea is to plan for leftovers. For example, you can, cook a little more of a main dish at dinner to ensure leftovers for lunch. For changes to your sandwiches try a new ingredient, make it a wrap, or turn your sandwich into a salad. One of my favorite lunchtime meals is to utilize healthy snack items as my lunch, such as hummus with veggies and pita chips, a yogurt parfait with granola and fruit, or crackers with cheese and nuts.

A tablet with recipe

Dinner
One the best ways to change up your dinner routine is to find new recipes. If you search recipes online, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all the possibilities. To reduce the fatigue of shifting through millions of recipes look for certain main ingredients or protein or, try to stick to staple ingredients that you already have in your pantry. The Ohio State University SNAP-Ed team has a great recipe website with many easy, low-cost recipes, check them out at CelebrateYourPlate.org

Still need inspiration? You can also try these ideas:

  • Have a recipe swap with friends.
  • Refresh a traditional family recipe.
  • Try cooking once and eating twice.
  • Pick one or two new recipes to try per week and have your family vote on their favorites.
  • Involve the rest of the family by having them choose a new recipe (this is a great way to involve your kids in learning to cook).
  • Explore a cuisine from another culture.

Whatever you decide to do, remember making small changes can benefit both your health and your wallet.

Written By: Laura Halladay, NDTR, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Greene County

Reviewed By: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County

Sources:

Harvard Health. (2018, December 1). Extra protein at breakfast helps control hunger. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/extra-protein-at-breakfast-helps-control-hunger

Healthy meals: Low cost recipes. Celebrateyourplate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://celebrateyourplate.org/

Henneman, A. (2019, October 14). How to cook once and eat twice. UNL Food. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://food.unl.edu/how-cook-once-and-eat-twice

Oliver, V. (2020, December 8). Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason jar salads. Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salads | UK Human Resources. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.uky.edu/hr/thrive/12-08-2020/make-week%E2%80%99s-worth-lunches-with-burrito-bowl-mason-jar-salads

Photo Credit:
Sarah Cervera via Unsplash – Breakfast bowl with berries, nuts, and grains.
Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash – Recipe displayed on tablet.

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