This simple question can bring on feelings of panic and dread - especially on a Monday. While weekends allow for leisurely meal prep oftentimes accompanied by a glass of wine, weeknights are just plain busy. Getting a meal on the table can feel like another thing to check off of a seemingly endless to-do list. No matter the day of the week, being busy doesn’t have to be an excuse for preparing the same meals over and over. Here are 3 easy ways to pull yourself out of your weeknight cooking rut.
Choose an ingredient that you don’t normally cook with and challenge yourself to prepare a week’s worth of meals with that ingredient. Is chicken your usual go-to protein for a stir-fry? Replace it with a steak or shrimp every once in a while. It doesn’t even have to be an entirely new meal that you’re creating with the new ingredient. Love spaghetti? Try pulling out your spiralizer and replacing your usual linguini with zucchini noodles.
It could even be as simple as trying out a new spice as your new ingredient. Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning has been a recent go-to addition to reinvent simple meals like scrambled eggs and avocado toast. By adding a different array of spices and flavors, the same standby ingredients can feel like a brand new meal without adding on any additional cook or prep time.
With the endless number of cooking blogs, cooking TV shows, and cookbooks out there today, there are millions of recipes at our fingertips waiting to be tried out. The inspiration is out there - you just need to set aside the time to seek it out. Especially for cooking blogs, it’s easy to find recipes totally tailored to what you’re looking for whether that be Whole30 recipes, vegetarian, or recipes that include a certain ingredient. Looking for cookbook inspiration? This recent study from Joybird reveals the most searched cookbook in each state - why not order the one for your state and see what all of the hype is about?
In order to get out of and stay out of the weeknight cooking rut, you’ll need to set aside some time for meal prep. Sunday afternoons are an ideal time to set aside 20-30 minutes to sift through blogs and cookbooks to plan out your meal strategy for the week. Jot it down on the calendar and go ahead and get your grocery shopping out of the way. If you walk into the week with a plan and all of your ingredients at hand, you’ll be more likely to follow through with experimenting with new ingredients and trying out new recipes. Plus, it’s been shown that meal planning is associated with a healthier diet and less obesity.
By making these 3 things part of your weekly routine, you’ll work yourself out of your weeknight meal rut in no time. Don’t have the time to plan, prep and cook? Meal prep subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron make it easier than ever to get dinner on the table.