Food is awesome, and I think it’s great that something we need to eat in order to survive can also be something fun and enjoyable to prepare and consume. Of course, there are times when life gets in the way, and ‘remember to eat’ becomes just another item on our to-do lists. It’s times like this you might find yourself working your way into a food rut, eating the same things day in and day out until you’ve forgotten there was a time when food was exciting. This can happen whether you’re usually a gourmet cook, or the type who uses your oven to store sweaters. Believe me, I know, because I’ve lived most of my life in one food rut or another. Fear not, like all other ruts, this one is totally escapable. Read on for ten signs you might be in a food rut, and how to change things up.
1. You’re on a first name basis with your go to delivery/takeout guy.
You also know the names of his kids, and what he thinks about Scandal this season. Kudos to you for being friendly and knowing someone with awesome taste in TV, but perhaps it’s time to pick a different restaurant on Seamless, for variety’s sake (or if your delivery guy is Team Fitz, because he’s the worst).
2. Your coworkers can predict your lunches.
If I tell a coworker I brought my lunch from home, his first question is always “Is it kale?” Worse, my answer is always “Yes.” I once defended myself with “But this week it’s kale in soup instead of salad.” “Sure, because soggy kale is better,” was his retort. I will argue that the soggy kale was in fact better than my usual salad, so even if you’re eating the same base food, try switching up your recipes.
3. You’re not excited about meals.
I love the feeling of “ooh, it’s almost lunchtime, I can’t wait to have this delicious thing I brought.” Less fun is “Well, I’m hungry, guess it’s time to eat kale, again.” Whether it’s something you’re making or something you’re getting at a restaurant, pick meals you’re going to enjoy, rather than ones you’re just going to ingest for the sake of not going hungry.
4. Every trip to the grocery store is for the same things.
For those of us into fresh produce, but also convenience, a trip to the grocery store can be an exercise in ABCs – apples, bananas, baby carrots. They’re healthy, they require no prep work, and they get totally boring when you’re buying them every single week. Whatever your staples are, if you’re tired of them, switch them up! Get something you’ve never tried before. Pick one of those weird fruits/vegetables you have no idea what to do with, and go home and look up what to do with it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, sign up for a CSA box, which will provide you with a bunch of local produce, half of which you’ll have no idea how to cook.
5. You’ve been eating the same breakfast for years.
This could be just me, but I really will eat the same breakfast for years on end. In elementary school, it was blueberry Pop Tarts. In middle school, blueberry Nutrigrain bars. In high school, it was Swedish Fish from the college counseling office. In college, blueberry yogurt. And for most of adulthood, it’s been oatmeal with blueberries. Apparently I have a blueberry thing. Even my ruts have ruts. I’ve recently been trying to switch things up and having eggs on occasion. If you’re usually a sweet breakfast person, try something savory, and vice versa. And whoever you are, if you haven’t, try cake for breakfast. It’s pretty much the best.
6. The only seasonings in your pantry are salt and pepper.
They say variety is the spice of life. Well, spices are the spice of food. Trying something new doesn’t always have to mean venturing to some health food co-op in search of the latest trendy ancient grain (quinoa is so three years ago). Just try different seasonings on some of your old standbys and see what a difference they can make.