Struggling to stay motivated when it comes to making dinner, or otherwise in need of kitchen inspiration? If you’re tired of cooking (or just bored with what you’re eating), here are some ways to fix that.
Cooking mid-pandemic (while stuck at home) may have seemed like a great thing at first—like you had all the time in the world to try baking bread, making pasta from scratch, and tackling other kitchen projects. But then maybe it got tricky once you couldn’t find yeast, or realized all of your usual pantry staples had run out.
By now, you’ve probably figured out how to make the most of canned beans, restocked your shelves, and settled into some kind of routine—which could precisely be the problem. Ordering takeout can only be the solution so many times.
Cooking fatigue is a real thing, but if you’ve hit a wall, there’s help. Whether it’s time to switch things up or you just need help getting a bit creative before your next supermarket run or grocery store order, here’s what four nutrition experts say helps them to stay inspired in the kitchen during this period of extended self-isolation:
1. Use Pinterest
“I personally like to use Pinterest for finding fun recipe ideas,” says Sharon Priya Banta, MS, RD, CDN at New York City Nutrition. If you run out of flour, for example, you can search for “grain-free recipes” on Pinterest and you’ll get tons of visually pleasing, flour-free cooking ideas. Or, you can search for “flour substitutes” and you’ll be given all kinds of helpful flour substitute explainers, such as this printable Flour Substitution Chart.
Pinterest is also a great source for finding new ways to make familiar ingredients interesting again, or just seeing what’s popular right now. Shameless plug: Check out Chowhound on Pinterest too.
Related Reading: The Most-Searched Recipes in Each State During Quarantine
2. Browse Popular Cooking Websites
For inspiration, it can be helpful to garner recipe ideas from lifestyle websites or food blogs that take a more creative approach to healthy cooking.
“I love referencing Detoxinista.com, Againstallgrain.com, and pamelasalzman.com,” says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition. “These websites have many grain-free baking and cooking ideas and tons of cooking inspo.”
Related Reading: 9 Free Online Cooking Classes We Love
You can find sites with all sorts of other specific angles, depending on what you need—try Budget Bytes for wallet-friendly recipes, for instance, or Dessert for Two for small-scale recipes (including dinner as well as dessert). If you’re determined to make the most of summer produce while it lasts, take a deep dive into vegetarian Instagram accounts.
3. Change Up Your Cooking “Routine”
During this period of self-quarantine, it’s a good idea to try and maintain an open mind in the kitchen. That means trying out new recipes and cooking techniques.
Related Reading: Check Out Chowhound’s Cooking Videos on YouTube
Other innovative ideas include using this time at home to finally “learn how to use your Instant Pot (if you have one), try cooking vegan for a week, or introduce new grains (or vegetables) into your diet that you haven’t taken the time to try out,” Shapiro says.
If you have a grill, make the most of it for the remainder of summer by grilling avocado, fruit, and other unexpected things.
Related Reading: These 18 Pantry Staples Will Make Eating Exciting Again
4. Try to Stick to Your Health Goals
When stuck at home, it’s easy to lose motivation and want to snack on everything in the house all at once. (After all, a bad case of boredom and a pantry full of snacks can be a real recipe for disaster.)
Related Reading: 15 Smart Tips to Manage Snacks When You’re at Home All Day
In order to find a happy medium during this trying time, it’s a good idea to go for nutritious, balanced meals. If you’re sick of eating the same grilled chicken and steamed veggies day in and day out, try out a new recipe or hunt around for a new, health-focused blog to follow.
If you can’t seem to find the motivation within yourself to follow a healthy routine (and if you have the budget for it, of course), why not try out a healthy home delivery food service? “Daily Harvest, an organic, farm-frozen food delivery service, delivers smoothies and harvest bowls to your home that are made from organic and completely vegan ingredients,” Shapiro says.
Related Reading: The Best Healthy Food Delivery Services to Try in 2020
5. Search Instagram via Popular Food Hashtags
Various hashtag searches on Instagram yield abundant food inspiration.
#foodswaps,” says Oz Garcia, nutritionist, author, and biohacker.“One of the most useful ways to find a creative recipe that’s possibly even a healthier swap is to use Instagram as a tool and type in “
On the #foodswaps results page, for example, there are more than 13,000 results—many of which provide creative ideas for replacing certain foods or ingredients in your diet with others.
For an idea of what others are making while in self-isolation, search “#quarantinekitchen” on Instagram. There, you’ll find nearly 190,000 posts with ideas of how others are getting creative in the kitchen while “stuck” at home.
Shameless plug #2: Check out Chowhound on Instagram too!
6. Make Use of Your Leftovers (or Scraps)
While you can still go to the grocery store or order delivery, most of us aren’t trying to go out in public on a daily basis like we used to.
To make the food items, such as your fresh produce, that you’ve stocked up on go further, you can try to “use your leftover scraps and create something delicious,” says Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and author of “The Clean and Simple Diabetes Cookbook.”
“Often, these creations are the most popular! Plus, cooking up whatever you have on hand helps prevent food waste, which is a bonus for both budget- and earth-friendliness,” Newgent adds.
If you try cooking with your leftover scraps and end up enjoying the process, here are the best cookbooks that will teach you more ways to put your leftovers to use while also fighting food waste.
Related Reading: 5 Smart Ways to Use Up Food Before It Goes Bad
7. Take It Easy
We’ll add this one because it’s definitely one of our go-to strategies, and we have several recipe round-ups and tips you might find helpful too:
- Easy Dinners You Can Make with Basic Pantry Staples
- Amazing 3-Ingredient Recipes Anyone Can Pull Off
- The Best Ways to Use All the Beans in Your Cupboard
- Big-Batch Recipes to Save You From Cooking Every Single Night
- 21 Cheap and Easy Meals When You’re Out of Funds and Energy
- Make-Ahead Meals That Freeze Like a Dream
- Essential Meal Prep Staples to Keep in Regular Rotation
- 15 Meals You Can Make from a Rotisserie Chicken
- 15 Quick & Easy Instant Pot Recipes
- Simple One-Pot Dinners When You Can’t Deal with Dishes
- Fast Fried Rice Recipes That Are Better Than Takeout
- The Best Meal Kits for 2020 When You Just Want to Outsource It
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