Do you find yourself in the same cooking routine week in and week out? Do you struggle to do something new during the work week? Fear not, I am here to share with you some of the things I have discovered during the last few months that have kept me from falling prey to the dangerous recipe loop, the most feared enemy of most home cooks. I certainly feared it until I got my shit together.
I had a few recipes that I fell back on every single week. It was the same chicken tenders, the same pasta dishes, the same grilled cheese. Up until I changed my diet, I found it really hard to break the routine. I knew these things could be made quickly on a weeknight when I might not feel like cooking. My shopping list never changed. My refrigerator had the same stuff in it every single week. Something had to give, especially if I was going to do this food blogging thing with any kind of seriousness.
So, I took a few steps to beat the loop. If I couldn’t beat the loop, I would lose most of my interest in cooking.
1. Experiment with a classic
In our case, that classic was pasta. Rob is very anti-tomato, and that’s hard on me. We do a lot of white sauces, normally the exact same kind of alfredo. To change it up, I’ve turned to different cheese based white sauces to bring in a new flavor. Adding veggies to the recipe has changed the flavor and brought an extra dimension to old recipes. It may be a lot of the same, but those small changes have helped spark creativity for me in the kitchen when I desperately needed it.
2. Go to the grocery store
When I’m in doubt, I’ll make a run to the grocery store after work. While yes, it does take some time out of my day to day, it has helped me find something to take home and twist into a new recipe. It could be anything: a veggie that looks particularly nice that day, a weird sauce hidden in the ethnic foods aisle. I understand, however, that this doesn’t work for everyone, so…
3. DON’T go to the grocery store
Sometimes, creative endeavors can be sparked by limitations. If I know I have some kind of protein to work with in the fridge, I’ll refuse the trip to the grocery store and just work with what I have in the pantry. I’ve made some pretty wild burritos and pastas this way.
4. Turn to a cookbook
You don’t have to buy a new one to get something new. I find a new recipe even when I open a cookbook I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s an active choice to break the recipe loop by including something you’ve never done before during the grocery trip of the week.
Open it up. As much as I laude the cookbook as the height of culinary knowledge, there are tons of people like me out there on the internet using pinterest as their primary traffic driver and outlet. I’ve found a few really good recipes on pinterest when I’ve felt the call to browse. Don’t be afraid of trusting some of these awesome home cooks with your dinner.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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