5 Ways To Break Meal Monotony

by Katy Keogh, MS, RDN, LD

Last Updated: January 11, 2021

Even if you’re now classifying yourself as a Pandemic Chef (with nearly a year in training under your belt!), you’re likely experiencing a serious case of meal monotony by now. No matter your skill level, we all experience food ruts - nothing sounds good, and every meal for dinner sounds boring. When cooking more than usual, this is bound to happen. Even pre-pandemic, one of the most common topics that our nutrition patients ask about is meal variety. We all want meals to be quick, easy, nutritious, and have variety. It’s a constant challenge, but we have solutions. Food ruts are generally caused by a lack of inspiration and too much repetition. Here are 5 tips to get those creative juices flowing to help break out of your rut:
  1. Food browsing.
    A perfect way to get some fresh inspiration is to browse recipe ideas. Head to your favorite social media site (Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start), cookbook, or recipe website. We also like to use a search engine, and type key ingredients we want to use, and see what comes up. For example, if you want to use ground turkey, type “ground turkey recipe” in the search bar. Better yet, make it as specific as possible such as searching for “ground turkey one pot” or “ground turkey Korean recipe.” Some of our favorite meal planning and recipe websites are:
  2. Secret ingredients.
    Inspiration needs a starting point. Once it’s kicked off, there’s usually a domino effect following. You need to think of one new secret ingredient that will get your creativity flowing. Think of a new food item you’ve wanted to experiment with. Some fun secret ingredients include:
    • Fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, basil, sage
    • Ancient grains: quinoa, amaranth, farro, Kamut®, millet, black or wild or purple rice, sorghum, etc.
    • Plant proteins: lentils, beans (cannellini, broad, kidney, navy, garbanzo, black beans, etc.), tofu, tempeh, seitan
    • Trendy or less common vegetables: cauliflower, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, beets, radishes, rutabaga, parsnips, avocado, leeks, fennel
  3. Recipe swaps.
    Organize a recipe swap with friends or family. You can do this via email, social media, a virtual gathering, or snail mail. If everyone is as pumped as you are, you may want to organize a club that meets regularly.
  4. Meal planning.
    Finally, start planning out your dinners. When you’re in a food rut, you just want someone else to decide what to eat. A meal plan kind of achieves that. You also won’t have to make dinner decisions when rushed or uninspired, making those decisions harder. We know many people have the best of intentions to meal plan, but just never start. Set aside some time each week or month to get organized. Start by planning only one or two meals a week. Unsure where to start or feeling overwhelmed? Check back soon for our upcoming article on this topic.
  5. Inspiration in a box.
    Get inspiration delivered to your doorstep when you subscribe to a meal kit delivery service like Home Chef. Not a fan of commitment? You can also purchase these meal kits one-off in the store (typically near the deli section). By using these services, many people discover new meal ideas, cooking styles, skills, and ingredients that they start using in their own meals thereafter.

Hopefully, you’re already salivating at the new food adventures that await you. With a little food browsing, you’re likely to be out of that food rut in no time. Just remember that the dinner dilemma is a normal part of life but try some of these tips to help it occur less often. For more personalized inspiration, book a Telenutrition appointment with any of our talented Kroger Health Dietitians who are well seasoned in juggling life and cooking challenges.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Katy Keogh, MS, RDN, LD

Katy Keogh, MS, RDN, LD

A mom of 2 little kiddos and over 15 years experience in nutrition, Katy enjoys helping her patients squeeze good nutrition and activity into an already “full” life and find their own balance with nutrition and health while still enjoying food to the fullest. She is an expert in weight management, mindful eating, digestive health, anti-inflammatory nutrition, culinary nutrition, cooking/baking, and any other topic related to food! Outside of work, you’ll find her traveling, walking, jogging, beer tasting, and eating gelato.