Here are some easy solutions:
(1) Re-create your restaurant favorites
Let’s face it. We often eat out because need a break from cooking. But, we also eat out because we like the food. Yesterday, I had no idea what to make for dinner and thought about some favorite meals when I go out. I really enjoy a lot of restaurant salads and decided to re-create Barbecued Chicken Salad, a meal I have ordered at several different restaurants. It’s always on a base of regular house salad – lettuce, cucumber, tomato, shredded cheese. Then, there’s usually corn and black beans, so I open up a can of each of those (and rinsed the beans). Then, I coated 2 chicken breasts with a favorite barbecue sauce and grilled them on the George Foreman grill. To top it off, I put a little barbecue sauce in to a bowl with ranch dressing. Voila! I had barbecue ranch dressing without having to buy an entire specialty bottle. I also made my version of California Pizza Kitchen’s BLT pizza a couple weeks ago. It was just as tasty, a ton cheaper, and added some variety to our dinner menu.
Try re-creating some of your favorite restaurant meals at home. Think about the different toppings you have had on pizzas, the different ways you have seen pasta prepared, and the restaurant sandwiches you really enjoy. Bring those in to your own kitchen.
(2) Flip through those cookbooks
If you’re anything like me, you have a huge stack of cookbooks. Open one of them, and flip through it. You don’t have to make anything in it, but I find it tends to help me generate a lot of ideas to help mix things up. I may see 2 ingredients combined in a way I never would have thought of, such as a pork and nectarine stir fry I came across. Sometimes, I also come across a recipe that will remind me of a dish I used to make, before I entered my current rut.
I can’t watch the Food Network for a half hour without seeing some new technique or cooking method that I have never tried. I have picked up such ideas as roasting cherry tomatoes to put on salads or pasta and boiling green beans with my pasta (same water at the same time) and then tossing them both with pesto. (Although mine comes from a jar, not a food processor. Sorry, Rachael!)
(4) Take matters in to your own hands
I have a friend who recognized she was in a rut and asked for help. She sent out a note to several of her mom friends on Facebook and asked us what we have been cooking lately. She asked us to send her recipes for favorites in our own rotations that she could add to hers. Not only did we help her out, but we also got to read what everyone else was making to expand our own cooking repertoire.
These recipes have been posted by home cooks, and many of them are reviewed. They feature a recipe each day, and at least half of them seem worth trying. I love having new recipes to try, and I love it even more when they’re tried and true successes.
These methods certainly work for me! Have your own tips or methods? Please feel free to share them here!
Filed under: Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom, Frugal Living, Works for Me Wednesday | Tagged: allrecipes.com, barbecued chicken salad, CPK, dinner rut, Rachael Ray, re-creating restaurant favorites, the Food Network, the legal eagle, Works for Me Wednesday | 2 Comments »