7 Ways to Break Out of a Food Rut

While on Facebook, my friend, Brandy Jones of Celtic Cat Rustics, commented on a recent post that sometimes they get into a food rut.

I know the feeling! Every week I make a menu, but sometimes I settle for familiar items never realizing that Greg might be tired of them too. We all go for what's easiest.

The change of seasons always reminds me to change my menu items. Come Fall, I'm more interested in soups and stews. In the summer, I want bbq and salads.

I'm just as guilty for falling into a food rut though. I have to force myself to think outside my usual recipe brain. Here's what I do when I catch myself falling into the same old, same old.

• Inventory what you have in your freezer and pantry. This gives me a base of what I might have in abundance and need to use up.

•Make a list of all your favorite meals, then extend the idea. For example, say meat loaf is a family favorite. Instead of meat loaf, make mini individual loaves, meat balls, or Google for new ways to prepare meat loaf. I actually did this during our lean years. I must've had two dozen different ways to make meat loaf.

• Take a cooking class. Sometimes it's all about stepping outside your comfort zone. What better way than to learn something you've never done before? If you can't afford a cooking class, offer yourself as a willing aide to a friend who's a very good cook. I have a couple of friends like that. Whenever we're invited to dinner, I try to get there early so I can help with the prep or the cooking. I learn a lot on how other people do things.

• Pick a cuisine or style. I usually have a night for Mexican, Asian, Italian, bbq, casserole, etc. You can do this seven nights a week and never have the same thing twice.

• Buy yourself a new cookbook.

•If you're on Facebook or other social media, ask your friends what they're cooking that night. That might inspire you for some future meals.

•Skip or change one thing. If you normally make potato salad with bbq, try coleslaw. If you normally bake fish, fry it instead. If your spouse is used to baked potato, try roasting small red potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper. One change could change how you see the same old meal.

What do you do when you're in a food rut?


i can understand this, I have been trying to find new ways to use some of the glut on certain fall items that are not great keepers and need to be used up. great tips on switching things up..
Maria Zannini said…
Farmgal: During the summer, I try very hard to empty the freezers, not just to use up the food but to make room for fresh meat and harvest that will certainly fill them up.
Good for you, I wish I could say the same, I have so much coming in and my freezers are still quite full, I might have to turn a extra one on for fall butcher, till I can get my canning, curing done.
Maria Zannini said…
Farmgal: We might put a goat in the freezer this year. It all depends on how much room I can make.

For me, trying to juggle how and what to preserve is the hardest. Canning is not my forte, so I've depended on drying and freezing for most of my food.
I love cookbooks, but I usually end up only making one or two recipes from them before they get shoved on a shelf. I don't really have a go-to cookbook. Hmm, maybe I should look for one? Any excuse to buy a book! :)
Angela L Brown said…
Finding menu items that my kiddo loves - picky eater - makes it easy to get into a food rut.

As she is getting older, I want her to get more comfortable in the kitchen so I am looking into some cookbooks we can use to do some cooking together. And that adds to spending quality time with my kiddo.
Michael Keyton said…
Sorry, Maria, I'm too lazy to be as well organised as you :) The only time we ring the changes is when we have dinner parties and because our core guests are often invited, we have to scratch our heads to cook something different. So yes, creativity/ invention but not so much on a day to day basis. You also referenced:• Buy yourself a new cookbook. I have shelves of them, and is it just me - but you tend to pick out two or three recipes per cookbook and that's it. :) Also, I'm finding the iPad / internet, a useful supplement, too. Tell me honestly. Be truthful. I can take it. Have I meandered into 'The Dark Side' :)
Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: I recently donated a bunch of cookbooks that I simply don't look at anymore. I still have plenty more though that I like to browse.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: D doesn't yet realize how much she'll appreciate spending time with you in the kitchen. I know I didn't. :) It was a rude awakening when I had to start cooking for myself.
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Well, I'm pretty sure you've gone to the dark side, but I think it was long before the internet. :D

I use my phone on occasion, but I have a good memory for where my favorite recipes live in a book so I almost always reference the book first.