Do you find yourself getting a little bored with your weekly meals? Confronted with yet another sad desk lunch? As you move through your cooking and shopping routine, it’s easy to grab the same items over and over, especially when you have a busy schedule and don’t have a lot of extra time for meal planning. We all have our favorite snacks and our tried-and-true recipes, often getting us into habitual eating patterns that are hard to break. However, it’s incredibly important to incorporate an assortment of foods into your diet. In addition to adding some variety to your life, mixing up your meal plan can make you healthier in the long run. Eating an array of foods helps you to cover your nutritional bases, ensuring that your body gets the all of the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive. If you’re looking to insert some new and exciting options into your mealtime routine, here are some easy tips for breaking the cycle of repetition.
Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Salad (Buh-bye, sad desk lunch!)
1. Shop Seasonally
One of the best and easiest ways to ensure your meals are full of diversity is to eat food that is in-season. By doing this, your shopping list will get a fresh update every few months, which is fantastic for both your body and your taste buds. Since seasonal fruits and vegetables are more plentiful, they also cost less, so you can cut down your grocery bill without even trying. And when food is in-season, it tastes so much better, which will make your meals more delicious and satisfying. For the best that the season has to offer, head to your neighborhood farmer’s market regularly and try to shop local whenever possible.
2. Make Something New Each Week
Mixing up your menu doesn’t have to be a monumental, time-consuming task. More often than not, a little goes a long way. Start by making a goal to purchase one or two new food items each week to incorporate into your diet. You could also challenge yourself to make one new recipe per week, using inspiration from friends, family, Pinterest, Instagram, or your favorite plant-based websites. Trying something new is also a wonderful way to spark your creativity, which can help bring an extra dose of inspiration to your life between meals.
3. Try Variations of Your Favorite Recipes
You can easily expand your eating horizons without giving up your favorite specialties. Give your classics some modern updates by adding creative variations next time you make them. Try substituting spices, switching up ingredients, or experimenting with a new sauce to add a little fun to your standard repertoire of dishes that you’ve perfected over the years. You may even find some delicious and unexpected surprises along the way, like uncovering a special new ingredient to take your dish to the next level.
4. Go Global
Gathering ideas from the cuisines of other cultures is a fantastic way to step outside of your comfort zone and incorporate exciting new flavors and ingredients into your diet. Try some refreshing Japanese soba noodles, a hearty and creamy vegetable curry, or a zesty Turkish salad. Your taste buds get to travel the world without you leaving the kitchen.
5. Apply new cooking techniques
Another easy way to try something new in the kitchen is to experiment with different ways to prepare ingredients that you already love and regularly purchase. Are you crazy about cauliflower? Take a break from steaming it and use it to make a grain-free rice or creamy sauce. If you eat kale salads constantly, turn those leafy greens into chips for a healthy snack, or throw a handful in your smoothie for an extra serving of veggies in the morning. Mixing a new technique with your favorite ingredients blends novelty with familiarity, giving you the best of both worlds!
How do you like to mix up your meals? Tell us in the comments!
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Photo: Mary Hood Luttrell, Jaclyn Enchin, Peaceful Dumpling