(updated March 2022. I don’t feel bad revamping this post, because this family of mine still want to eat multiple times a day every. single. day. and I still get sick of making the same old things. Periodically I need to refresh our ideas. However, there is also no need to reinvent the wheel.)
A few times a year I hit a slump of making dinner Every. Single. Day. And, sometimes lunch and breakfast, too! Oh my gosh, I just don’t want to make the same meals again and again forever! Here are some easy steps to quickly get us out of this slump by meal planning or other quick tips!
1. Clean out your fridge and make it more inviting. I know, this doesn’t give you new ideas, but it does make it more inviting to cook, instead of seeing another task (cleaning) that needs to be done and just drags our mood down. Of course, it also helps to be able to easily see what food you have and what ingredients that you need to buy.
Next, do the same to the freezer. You might even find you have a pre-made meal that got pushed to the back or under some other items. Go ahead and pull out out for an easy meal this week. Even if you don’t find a meal that’s ready to go, it helps to have everything visible and organized so you can easily see ingredients and be inspired.
2. Search for one new recipe to try. I tend to go on Pinterest for this, but search however you want. Ask your friends. I might do a general search, I might search for “ham recipes” or I might scroll through the recipes that I have already pinned looking for inspiration. I have all sorts of boards for veggie sides, main meals, grilling, … Inspiration, whether for tonight or later in the week, can lift my mood almost immediately. Just having a meal plan can help immensely!
3. Try a meal kit service. Often you can try at a very reduced price. Keep doing it for a few months and you may end up with a whole new slew of recipes to try for a while. I first used Hello Fresh when a good friend, an excellent cook recommended it. I used this weekly for several months, and it was such a relief to be able to go to the fridge, grab a bag, the protein, and not need anything else except for pans, knives, oil, and salt & pepper. The new recipes that the kids were willing to try were amazing. At last, variety!!!
Eventually we got a little tired of these same recipes, too. We’ll keep some of the recipes in our rotation (shopping for our own ingredients), but then we tried another meal kit service and moved onto Every Plate. This had a lot of the same recipes, but some new variety. They package a little differently, but the recipes are just as easy. It was a little cheaper for us. I also really like using Farmbox Direct for a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and veggies. These don’t come with recipes, but we use them how we like. And, we have the option to switch out up to 5 items so I can get extra kiwis, but no kohlrabi.
4. Buy extra meat when it’s on sale. Cut it and marinate it, then freeze it for easy dinners to grab and cook later. I’ll do this with chicken when I have time and freezer space. Then later, on a day I really don’t want to cook, I pull out and grill or broil that meat, add rice or potatoes, and roast some veggies or have a salad, or microwave some frozen veggies. It’s a healthy almost-no-work meal. You can use cheaper cuts of steak for this, too. I place it in gallon sized freezer bags and label which marinade I used. Trust me, even though you know exactly which bag is flavored which way, in a month they may look the same. Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated!
5. If you have the space, make twice as much for one meal and freeze the second. Something like shepherd’s pie works great for this. I buy the tinfoil pans just for this and cover them with tinfoil, not the plastic covers. Again, be sure to label it!!! I’ve been known to pull out a frozen pan and stick it in the oven and set the cook timers before going to work in the morning. It slowly thaws through the day, and cooks itself by evening. Nothing like coming home to good food smells already filling the house!
6. Similar to #5, I individually package leftovers to have them ready for my work lunches. (Meal planning for the win!) Sometimes I take it the next day, some days I freeze it for another time. I take it out in the morning, let it thaw by my desk during the day, and heat for lunch. Home cooked food, is far more appealing than a sandwich, for me. You can also offer these options for “microwave dinner” for a night each week at home, too. It’s a great way to have buffet options.
You may want to bookmark this page, it has handy links for programs (like meal kits) or activities that we use.
Also, this review of Hello Fresh.
Perhaps this post, about tips to staying organized – every little bit can help you be in the right mood to cook dinner AGAIN.
Do you feel the dinner making slump, too?
How do you break the cycle and make dinners exciting again?
What is your best tip for meal planning?