On a consistent basis, I am asked by moms for recipes and meal ideas to get over meal boredom. Way too often, family meal planning and preparation can fall into the “been there done that category.” But, how does one avoid the doldrums that can occur at dinnertime? It is all about, challenging you palate and your creativity! Excite your family’s “taste buds” by trying new spices, ingredients, cuisines and cooking methods to get through the dinnertime blues.
A simple example can be preparing a frittata for dinner as opposed to having an omelet for breakfast. If the idea of having fruit for dinner has never crossed your mind, try adding chopped apples to a savory fall stew or baking a streusel topped apple for dessert. You have to try a different approach if you want to get different results. The same old “tried and true” recipes are not going to cut it if meal boredom is to be averted.
If you and your family are meat eaters, try a few vegetarian recipes to “shake” things up. “Meatless Wednesdays” can help to get things started. To get opinionated kids used to this idea, announce the concept from at least a week before and post a menu in your kitchen. The kids will be especially excited (and be more likely to try something new) if they were instrumental in selecting the menu items. In addition, don’t be opposed to trying different ethnic recipes, spices and herbs. The addition of fresh parsley and other herbs to a salad for example can awaken most dormant taste buds. Trying alternative cooking methods such as broiling can transform meats and poultry from boring standbys, to the desirable “Oh my!” Don’t forget to use resources such as cookbooks, newspapers and online recipe portals like Food Network to push you through dinnertime boredom. Allrecipes is especially convenient because users can search for recipes using ingredients that they have.
Get the Kids Involved
In addition, be open to the idea of having your kids give dinner suggestions as well. Of course, you may have to tweak their ideas a bit. For example, dinner suggestions like pizza can be made at home with just a few simple ingredients. A jar of pizza sauce, some pita bread, and cheese can serve as a great canvass for all sorts of pizzas. Prepare toppings like fresh veggies, lean cuts of meat or fish and even fruit to give your kids lots of options for making their own personal pizzas. The idea that they made the meal themselves serves as a “magical” incentive to interest even the pickiest eaters.
Call a Friend
Nothing will get you and your family through dinnertime boredom like calling a friend. Sometimes, it is just enough to ask, “What are you having for dinner tonight?” You can also ask, “What are your favorite meals to cook for your family?” Listen carefully, and then let the meal inspiration begin. Another option is to have a recipe swap. For example, I recently visited a friend and demonstrated for her, one of my favorite ways to cook eggplant. Not only did she have a delicious dish already prepared, but while I cooked, she was able to ask as many questions as desired and increased her dinner tool kit by “plus one.” Not to mention, we were also able to bond with great food and good company… two ingredients that always indicate a good time!
Be on the lookout for new and creative recipes that challenge your culinary muscles. Challenge your ordinary and make your ordinary extraordinary!