January 10, 2017Same Old, same Old? How to Get Out of Your Cooking Rut

Are you in a cooking rut? We all tend to go for our favorite foods or find our favorite recipes and stick with them. During the holidays this makes sense because we want to honor tradition; however, during the year this can lead to boredom and prevent you from meeting your New Year’s weight loss resolutions. One key to getting out of a cooking rut is to create a weekly menu.

Advantages of making a weekly MENU

Make meals faster because you have all of the ingredients on hand.
Eat healthier by planning ahead and decreasing fast food meals.
New recipes help you increase the variety of foods eaten.
Up your intake of fruits and vegetables and increase fiber to make you feel fuller longer.

Planning your meals ahead of time on a weekly basis is not only better on your budget, it’s better on your waistline as well.

Step 1: Buy a Chalkboard or Dry Erase Board.

Pick up a chalkboard at a thrift store or order this simple Weekly Calendar Board on-line for less than $10.00. Not only will writing your meal plan on a public board keep you accountable, it will also give everyone in your household meals to look forward to and help plan.

Step 2: Look at your calendar and the evening activities for each day that week.

Think about what type of cooking makes sense based on your activities and what time you will be home.

Crockpot
If you have a late business meeting, a crockpot meal is a good choice. Try slow-cooked ribs in the crock pot with carrots, potatoes and onions. Buy a bag of a pre-made salad for a side dish. Add a glass of lowfat milk and you have a complete meal.

Try these Healthy Crock Pot Meals from Pinterest.

Homemade Paninis in a Panini Maker
If you have a late-night basketball game and need to eat in the car, make paninis in a panini maker with pesto, roasted turkey deli meat and cheese. Add a thin slice of tomato and avocado before you wrap them in aluminum foil for a warm sandwich in the car. Complement your meal by bringing fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots, mini-peppers, and an apple. Finish your meal with a portable shelf safe milk. Try one of these 50 Panini Recipes.

Step 3: Write your weekly menu on a public board in your house.

When our children were younger, a favorite meal was “breakfast for supper.” Everyone wore their pajamas to supper, and I made scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach, onions and sharp cheddar cheese, whole grain toast and a fruit salad mixed with a combination of low fat Greek yogurt and a coconut yogurt. If I changed the meal because something came up, our daughters were very upset because they said they had been dreaming about that meal since morning recess.

Two ways to plan your weekly menus

1.Plan around your protein source.

Once you have your protein source figured out, fill in with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy. Build a healthy eating style using ideas from ChooseMyPlate. Start with a few small changes such as making half of your plate fruits and vegetables.

Sunday: Beef
Monday: Meatless (beans, tofu, lentils) – Try these 5 Ingredient Vegetarian Recipes.
Tuesday: Chicken
Wednesday: Soup (Double it so you reheat it on the weekend)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Fish – Try these 20 Superfast Fish Recipes.
Saturday: Pork

2. Plan around a cultural theme.

Sunday: Asian – stir fry, rice bowl, chop suey; Try these recipes for Healthy Asian Foods.
Monday: Mexican – burritos, tacos, enchiladas. Make them healthier by increasing chopped vegetables.
Tuesday: Italian – pasta, pizza, calzones
Wednesday: Indian – Be creative with these simple Healthy Indian Recipes.
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Americana – Hamburgers on the grill, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese
Saturday: Meatless Cook’s choice

If you are looking for some new healthy recipes, try these 30 Delicious Dinners from 30 Dietitians.

Step 4: Create your shopping list on your phone.

Based upon your weekly menu, make your shopping list on your phone and save it by week. This way you will not lose that little slip of paper called your shopping list, and you can reuse your ideas for future weeks.

In conclusion, by buying a dry-erase board, looking at your weekly activities on a calendar, writing your weekly menu on a public board to keep you accountable and then creating your shopping list, you are on the right track to meeting your weight loss goals by creating faster and healthier meals.

One of my weight loss clients told me recently, “The menu board worked so well that I started doubling my recipes so that I had healthy leftovers for lunches the next day. Of course, I had to remember to buy twice the number of ingredients at the grocery store.

Happy cooking!

Martha Henze, MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC.

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/Dinner Meal Planning & Diets/"Plan, Shop, Prep, and Cook"

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