What to do when you’re in a “food rut”

November 23, 2010

If you’re finding yourself in a rut with your meals, having the same thing again and again, here are a few ideas off the top of my head on how to deal with that:

The question for the day, officially, is what you do to get out of a food rut, but here’s the bonus question: do you find your diet to be more varied or less varied since you went vegan?

Oh, and I’m becoming aware as I type this that “food rut” could be something dirty and not at all boring. Never you mind that.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin November 24, 2010 at 12:06 am

Here’s what we do:
1. Join a CSA (to find a CSA near you, got to http://www.localharvest.org). This is the cure and cause of our food ruts. On the one hand, we end up eating the same veggies and fruits that are in season that month or two. So I am eating green beans, pototoes, apples, pears, kale, onions, and yams this week and had roughly the same fare last week. On the other hand, I’m eating really great fresh seasonal produce and getting exposed to an overall bigger variety over the course of the year. Great seasonal food is a wonderful starting point for getting creative with your menu.
2. We try to have different grains each night and only repeat every 3 or more days. quinoa one night, brown rice another, pasta/pizza the next, farro after that, etc. Sure, sometimes we eat rice 5 nights a week, but for the most part we make an effort to ensure variety. The same goes for our legumes and soys. Tofu, black beans, chickpeas, and tempeh are our staples.
4. Mix up the spices, especially with leftovers. We recently got a bunch of Indian spices to add to our collection, so one day might be potatoes and green beans with garlic and onion, but then leftovers might be tossed with curry OR mixed with a can of crushed tomatoes and Italian seasonings OR added to a Mexican-style tortilla soup. Use the same things with different spices and you won’t care that you had those same great seasonal veggies yesterday.
5. DON’T let yourself get in a rut. Once you get used to making the same beans and rice every day for a week, it’s that much harder to think of what to do differently. Keep it different all the time, even if that means having taco Tuesday every week, but making them with a different bean each week and a different side.

Amanda November 24, 2010 at 2:11 am

When I’m in a rut, or simply can’t think of something appetizing for dinner, I go to vegweb.com, and browse the recipes for ideas. Today, in fact I made something new. I was remembering the chicken salad sandwiches my mom used to make me, which I remember being so savory and delicious, that I decided to check vegweb for a vegan alternative, in which I found a “chick-salad sandwich” recipe which uses mashed chickpeas, veganaise, chopped onion, and sweet dill mixed together and slapped into a pita or some bread, and it was awesome, to say the least. I’m going to add some macaroni next and make a big batch for Thanksgiving!

Colleen November 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I tend to buy myself a new cookbook if I’m really in a rut, but this isn’t necessarily doable in a pinch. I make a point of trying new recipes all the time, at least one each week, even if it’s just a new hummus or sauce recipe. I’ve recently been thinking I might challenge myself to make 100 (or more?) new (to me) recipes in 2011! If I decide to do so, I’ll have to think about how to keep track…

Generally, though, I find that if I’m getting into a rut it’s because I’m relying too heavily on the carb-heavy comfort foods. I find that if I make sure I’m eating lots of fruits and veggies, that I don’t get bored.

Also, yes, I eat a MUCH more varied diet as a vegan than I did as an omni, mostly I imagine because I know how to cook now. But I was also very close-minded as an omni and was very resistant to new things. I felt I couldn’t afford to be close-minded when I decided to go vegan and have discovered a whole world of awesome things, like fresh garlic, and beet juice, and nutritional yeast, and almond butter…Mmmm. Getting hungry now.

Gabriel November 25, 2010 at 9:42 am

One resource I’ve found particularly useful when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to go through the trouble of deciding what to cook is WhatTheFuckShouldIMakeForDinner.com — they’ve even got a version of their site specifically for vegetarians!

The Internet: making decisions for you, one website at a time.

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