Although I was used to making dinner for my family almost every night before the pandemic, after three months of being stuck at home, I’m totally bored. While the regular rotation of the same meals every week used to help me take the guesswork out of dinner, now I’ve found myself in a serious dinner rut.
With all the cooking you’ve probably found yourself doing—one mom estimates it’s been hundreds of meals—I bet you’re growing weary too.
Some days, it’s just easier to open up a box of macaroni and cheese or order curbside take-out.
Yet if you’re looking for new, healthy meal ideas and easy ways to get out of a dinner rut, I’ve got you covered today.
PULL OUT YOUR COOKBOOKS
There’s something to be said about having a cookbook in my hands. Maybe it’s the author’s personal stories, beautiful photography, or the tangible feeling of a book, but it’s an experience that’s unlike reading food blogs.
If you have a bookshelf full of cookbooks that you haven’t cracked open in years, now’s the time to dust them off and try new recipes that can get you out of a dinner rut.
Even if you have old cookbooks that have indulgent recipes, you can easily swap out ingredients to lighten them up.
Of course, if you’re looking for recipes for sheet-pan meals, gluten-free, or plant-based, for example, there are so many to choose from.
Related: 7 Best Cookbooks for Moms
GET OUT OF A DINNER RUT WITH FAMILY RECIPES
When you’re looking to get out of dinner rut, think about your favorite childhood recipes, or ask your family or your husband’s family to share some of their own.
Making family recipes is also a great opportunity to bring your kids into the kitchen and teach them how to cook.
As an Italian-American growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., I grew up on macaroni and meatballs.
For several years, I’ve loved my aunt’s marinara sauce (sorry, mom!) and for several years, I’ve asked her how to make it, but never made it myself. A few weeks ago however, I finally jotted it down, made it several times since and it’s become one of my family’s favorite meals.
SEARCH FOOD BLOGS
Food blogs are a pretty obvious place to turn to when you’re in a dinner rut.
Although I’d love nothing more than to spend an afternoon in the kitchen, I always look for food blogs that have easy and quick recipes and minimal ingredients that I already have in my kitchen.
Some of my favorite go-to food bloggers are:
FIND NEW RECIPES ON PINTEREST
While you’re scrolling through Pinterest for home DIY projects, add some pins for new meal ideas and recipes that you can easily pull up when dinner rolls around.
MAKE BREAKFAST FOR DINNER
Breakfast for dinner can be a healthy, delicious, and easy way to get out of a dinner rut. Although you could certainly whip up pancakes and waffles, search for other recipes like:
- Egg muffins
- Egg casserole
- Salad with hard-boiled eggs
- Breakfast burritos
- Breakfast tacos
- Breakfast pizza
- Breakfast quesadilla
- Avocado toast
LOOK FOR RECIPES IN MAGAZINES
As a magazine writer myself, I’m old-fashioned and still love to pour over magazines like I do books.
You can tear them out and keep them in a cookbook or a meal planner, or use an app like Evernote to keep them organized on your devices.
FIND INSPO ON INSTAGRAM
When boredom has set in and I find myself in a dinner rut, Instagram is one of my favorite places to find new recipes.
You can follow hashtags like #healthymealideas and #healthyfoodforkids and when you see something that looks good, save it.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram too, where I post healthy meal ideas.
To avoid getting stuck in a dinner rut, pull out your recipes and make a meal plan for the week.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated.
You can write out your meals for the week on a piece of paper, a chalkboard, or use something more streamlined like Plan To Eat, which allows you to find and save recipes.
USE THE SUPERCOOK APP
Sometimes the reason you’re in a dinner rut is that you have some food in the house, but you’re not sure what to make.
Maybe you have plenty of vegetables, but with only a few other random ingredients, it doesn’t seem like dinner is going to happen.
Enter the SuperCook app. Simply add the ingredients you have on hand and instantly get a list of recipes you can make for dinner—so easy!
GET THE KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
Depending on the ages of your kids, you can break up the monotony of dinner by letting them take the lead.
With some basic cooking lessons and practice, elementary-aged kids can easily make sandwiches, scrambled eggs, or a salad, while older kids can cook more substantial meals. Got toddlers? They can help you search for recipes too.
If you’re not the greatest home chef or could simply use some pointers to teach your kids how to cook, I recommend you check out Katie Kimball’s Kids Cook Real Food online video eCourse.
TRY A NEW CUISINE
If you’re bored with the same meals night after night, break out of your dinner rut by trying an entirely new type of cuisine like authentic Mediterranean, Indian or Thai.
With new types of vegetables, new spices and new cooking methods, you can get creative and inspire your kids to get out of their picky eating ways too.
MAKE ONE SMALL CHANGE
Sometimes all it takes to break free from a dinner rut is to make one small tweak to your regular meals.
For example, instead of breaded chicken cutlets, make chicken roll-ups.
Change the cooking oil, the cooking method or add new herbs and spices.