One of the most challenging things to do, especially when your diet is restricted in any way, is to keep enough variety in the things you eat on a daily basis to avoid “food boredom.”
Suffering from this, especially when you’re trying to lose weight or change your eating habits in any significant way, can set you up for cravings and spectacular binge sessions. Even if you’re perfectly happy with your current diet and weight, eating the same thing day in and day out kills your interest in food and the joy and sense of exploration that it can bring to your life.
These are five very simple ideas for mixing it up in the kitchen:
Getting More Variety
#1: Vary your proteins. One thing that we try to do throughout the week is to use every kind of protein available for the various days of the week. Some examples include beef, pork, veal, chicken, fish (with so many varieties available, usually more than one), and even sausage. On some nights, we specifically exclude the proteins and cook a completely vegetarian meal.
This kind of variety in the main protein of the dish, the very thing that you build the rest of the dish around, ensures that you’re a lot less likely to feel like you’re eating the same things all the time.
#2: Rotate food types. There are some specific examples of things I consider to be food “types,” such as the three-part meal (protein, starch and vegetable), stews, baked dishes, soups, slow-cooked meals, grilled foods, etc.
Each type of preparation gives a different flavor, texture, and presentation to the meal you’re feeding your family. Combining this tactic with the different proteins available to you really gives you a lot of options.
#3: One new recipe a week. If you’re feeling adventurous and like trying new things, cooking one new recipe every week isn’t a big time-suck. You can do it on the weekend when you have more time to shop and prep, so the pressure of time isn’t a big deal.
One idea for making this work is to keep an recipe queue for things you’d like to try. Every week, remove the next recipe from the stack or search for something that looks particularly appetizing to you that week.
#4: Build around a vegetable. Rather than creating a meal around the main protein, which is the typical MO of many home chefs, try using a brand new or rarely-used vegetable instead. If you’ve never eaten it, you can’t pronounce it, or it looks like it would not be edible, I send bonus points your way.
I typically select a vegetable at the store and Google interesting recipes that include it as the star of the dish when I get home.
#5: Accessorize. If steaks are your thing, it’s not out of the question to eat them five days a week. The same goes for any other favorite that you might have up your sleeve. Vary things up by using different spices to change the flavor profile of your dishes from day to day.
You can also use side dishes to make a familiar meal seem like a completely new adventure. Whether it’s salads, hot or baked sides, or some fresh homemade bread, side dishes can take on a life and complexity of their own and create different pairings with your main meal.
Pushing the envelope doesn’t have to mean going crazy with gourmet meals every night. A little bit of systematic variety can go a long way to making your days in the kitchen just a bit more interesting.