I am often asked by fellow home cooks if I ever get into a cooking rut so I am posting this question here so those of you who feel you are can leave your comments. The answer is yes, of course I get into a rut from time to time but the good news is there are ways to get out of it.
What I mean by cooking rut is you tend to prepare the same five, six, eight recipes night after night, week after week. These may be tried and true recipes that you know work or your kids will eat but now everyone is tired of and looking for something new.
It is my belief that before you can get out of any rut, you have to know the reasons why you're there in the first place. So I am looking for your thoughts and ideas why home cooks often find themselves in these ruts.
Some of the reasons posted at the forum include:
- Lack of time and energy
- Lack of appreciation
- Comfort level with a few particular recipes
- Fast foods
- Same ingredients on hand
- Lack of planning
- Lack of funds
- Availability of ingredients
- Picky eating habits
All great ideas and I'm sure we can all relate to one or more of them. So what I would like to know from those of you who read this blog:
Why do you think we find ourselves in a cooking rut from time to time and how do you suggest we get out of it?
It's been a long, cold winter -- that's the reason for my rut. Spring weather will pop me out again.
I agree about the long long long winter,
even cooking on the grill on the nicer days are not helping much...
I tend to agree with the first two posters: the monotony of the winter season gets to me after while. I get tired of the "traditional" winter foods, but am so busy that searching out new twists on old faves is sometimes too much. Additionally, with our current budget crunch, I'm struggling to find my groove with grocery shopping on the cheap. Finally, my two HOOVER sons (referring to their pre-teen and teen appetites!) I must be concerned with QUANTITY for now. All those factors together add up to a big ole rut! Not pretty, but true enough.
I received an email from my friend Chef Alan Bickel who read about being in a cooking rut and had the following to say. Thanks Alan.
Hi Gary, how are you doing these days?Â I know it's been a little while (well, ok, actually quite awhile since I've contributed to your site)Â but, I was browsing your blog the other night, and happened across your post about falling into a cooking rut.Â Â
When I looked over your list of reasons for these ruts, it hit me that almost every single one of those is applicable to working in a commercial kitchen.
One of the things that I find really helpful is, simply enough, taking a break.Â I know that after a few days off, I'm very well rested, alert, and ready for a challenge.... perhaps something as simple as grabbing pizza or take-out for a few evenings is something home cooks can do to sort of recharge their culinary batteries.
As far as the lack of appretiation factor is concerened, if your audience does not appreciate your efforts, find a new audience! in other words, if you are cooking for kids and wife(hubby) every night, and they're too busy shoveling it down to appreciate your meals, then invite over some friends, or throw a little party, or heck, just cook something nice for yourself. You'd be surprised by how far just a little gratitude goes!
If your concern is with the difficulty of a meal, well, if you know how to read, and can understand most of the common terminology in a recipe, then the only thing stopping you is yourself.Â Cooking isn't just about providing the body with fuel, but also expressing yourself and working with an ever-changing pallett of ingredients.
When budget and ingredient availability come into play with (particularly when it can be very easy to pick up all the same things when grocery hopping)Â check out the awesomeness that is the internet.Â Google is one of the most powerful tools available, and I use it constantly when looking for new ideas... Try simply typing in the name of one or two ingredients, and you've got access to worldwide interpretation of foodstuffs. People all over the US and throughout the modern world post ideas, comments, and recipes, and chances are you'll come across some fresh ideas for tired foodstuffs.
Lastly, onÂ the topic of experience, or lack thereof,Â the only way to get better at something is to practice.Â Once you've got a few fundamentals under your belt, the sky's the limit when you wanna explore the endless world of food and cooking.Â If you're spooked about trying something new, then that should be reason enough to try it out... yeah, you might make some mistakes, but learning from your mistakes is the surest way to gain experience.Â Once you know how NOT to do something, you are one step closer
to knowing how To do something.
So, there you have it, my take on how to break up the cooking ruttage...
Hope this helps, Chef Alan
Cooking can turn into a "job" , you have to eat right? It's time to have try new recipes, I made an amazing meatloaf cooked in tomato sauce. I was bored and fed up of cooking all the time and needed to try something new and take the chance that it would have to be thrown out cause it tasted awful! Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't, but you will never know until you try. If that doesn't work, maybe try eating naked lol.
I re-read your question and you want to know why and how we get into ruts. it's routine, same meals, same time, same people, same kitchen, same pots and pans, same dishes....... even something as simple as an inexpensive frying pan or a different sized roasting pan can make the creative juices start running again.
My rut is my husband who eats a late breakfast, then a late lunch, and isn't interested in dinner but will "snack" later in the evening. Our kids are all out of the house so its just the two of us. I would like to fix dinner at a reasonable time but 8:00 is way too late for me.
I have been lucky enough to have had my whole kitchen redone- no more cooking rut for me
I cook alot of the same meals, because I work and our hours are irregular. My family likes my tried and true meals, fortunately! I love cooking so much that I wouldn't necessarily call how I cook "a rut", but necessary for our life-style. We also hate eating out, because of the cost and alot of disappointments we've experienced. I like your site and the comments your readers share!
For RG cartoon:
Every time I try to think of something new I come up short.
It's a small world when you're stuck in a rut.
I am an adventurous eater but my wife doesn't like very many things. She won't eat eggs, doesn't like spicy things, oriental dishes, complex tastes, beans, etc. She could eat the same meal every day of her life. BORING!