Stuck in a Rut? And Menu Plan Monday–May 23


I was riding to dinner this past week with two of my friends and we got on the subject of cooking. Both of my friends confessed to being in a rut and have gotten to the point where they absolutely hate cooking. I hear this often, and I struggled myself with being in a rut last year. So how did I get out of it and rediscover my love of cooking?

Well, it started with meal planning. And writing this blog also helps by keeping me accountable. While I have always enjoyed cooking, it is definitely a stress reliever for me, it has become stressful at times when I wasn’t meal planning. By sitting down once a week and planning out my meals for the coming week, I can relax and actually enjoy cooking, even if I am rushed in getting dinner on the table. Sure, when I first started working on my menu plan, it did take some time, but I’ve gotten faster and faster with it.

Here are my tips for getting out of a rut:

  • Start menu planning – sit down on the weekend, or whenever you have time, and think about the meals for the coming week.
  • Go back to trusted sources – get out old cookbooks, magazines, family recipes or look on blogs for inspiration.
  • See what others are doing! Every Monday, I’m an Organizing Junkie posts her menu plan and hundreds of people link their own blogs at the bottom with their own menu plans. Why reinvent the wheel, if you don’t have to?
  • Keep it simple. Breakfast for dinner is always a fun variation in routine. Or do a smorgasboard type of theme such as taco night or baked potato bar, where you lay out the ingredients and let everyone assemble their own.
  • Let the family pitch in. Depending upon the age of your children, assign them a day to plan the menu and help prepare it. Getting kids in the kitchen and involved is a great way to teach them lifelong skills as well as try new foods!
  • Team up with a friend and plan menus together or create a recipe swap.

This past week’s menu had a few detours, well, just one night really. We ended up at my favorite farmer’s market on Saturday and I couldn’t resist the wild salmon. So, we cooked that one night with a teriyaki sauce, brown rice and steamed baby bok choy. The Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce turned out great, though my mixture probably was a little too moist or didn’t have enough bread crumbs. We all devoured it though.

Of course the Sunflower Zucchini Pie was outstanding. I put sliced tomatoes on top of it this time, which adds some nice color and flavor. This is my son’s favorite meal, which is why it probably shows up on our menu more than anything else, plus it is super easy to prepare.

We have more fresh salad greens from our family friend. We have been enjoying them with fresh fruit. For some reason, I love putting fresh fruit on salads. This past week we enjoyed peaches and strawberries on our salads. I meant to take a picture, but kept forgetting in the scramble to get food on the table. I have Asian pears and more Georgia peaches here, so I’m sure those will be this week’s salad toppings (though probably not at the same time).

Here is this week’s menu:

Monday: Sesame Chicken Edamame Bowl (bumped from last week, again)

Tuesday: Beany Cheesy Zucchini Quesadillas and Green Salad

Wednesday: Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork (verbal recipe from friend that I need to write down and share), Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli

Thursday: Chicken and Vegetable Farro Risotto with Green Salad

Friday: Dinner Out for our Anniversary!!!! (I cannot wait for this meal!)

Saturday: Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Green Salad

Sunday: Family Dinner or Leftover Buffet

What are your tips for getting out of a cooking rut??