In week 3 of the Take Back Dinnertime Challenge (Get Inspired), we’re tackling food inspiration.
Readers always tell me they want to branch out from the same old meals. Getting out of a food rut isn’t be easy but it doesn’t have to be hard either.
So here are some simple steps you can take to jazz up your nightly dinners without giving up what’s familiar. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post.
1. Keep new recipes in one place:
I have a word document entitled “New Recipes to Try.” Every time I see a recipe I like, I copy and paste the URL in that file. When it comes time for my weekly meal plan, I check that file to see if I want to make any of the meals.
If the meal turns out then I transfer it to my “Jacobsen Meals” document. I print out all the recipes and include them in one folder. My goal is to gather a good variety of recipe and meal ideas for the years to come.
2. Tag recipes in (old and new) cookbooks:
When I first get a cookbook I look through it and try a couple of recipes — and then the cookbook sits. When I’m looking for meal inspiration I go through old cookbooks and tag the recipes I want to try.
Bottom line: don’t forget about your cookbooks!
3. Do weekly online searches:
I find most of my meal inspiration online. I store and save recipes on All Recipes where I check the comments and never choose a meal that has less than 4 stars. I also like Cooking Light and any recipe I find through Google.
I turn to my fellow RDs for inspiration including Estela at Weekly Bite, the Meal Makeover Moms, and Jill Castle’s Dinner Bar (family style meals) at Just the Right Byte. Other healthy resources include Six O’clock Scramble, Super Healthy Kids and Simple Bites.
4. Try new recipes on a regular basis: I incorporate a new recipe every week or two. While I reserve the right not to make the new meal if it’s a stressful day, I make it a point to keep the new meals coming. (Hint: skip new meals on Fridays!)
When choosing a recipe, I try to pick something that has familiar ingredients with only one or two new items. I also consider my children’s food preferences and ability to chew food.
5. Keep your child’s future taste buds in mind:
If I waited for approval on new meals from my kids, especially Big A, we’d never branch out. My husband and I carefully decide whether or not a meal is worth making again. It has to be kid-friendly enough, but it does not need to be something they chow down the first time they try it. As they get older, they will have more say.
On nights we try something new, I always make sure there are familiar sides that my kids are likely to eat.
6. Don’t give up: I know too well what it’s like to have dinner failures. It’s enough to make you run to the tried and true meals. But I’ve learned that you have to take the good with the bad — and the bad will happen more than you like. For every 4 or so new meals that I make, one ends up a winner.
The good news? With time I’ve gotten much better at choosing new recipes so the failures aren’t so bad — they’re just not worth a repeat performance.
Don’t miss this week’s Real Simple video about getting inspired. And for a fun bonus, Real Simple is offering 5 free issues of their Family issue.
To enter leave a comment about where you go for meal inspiration. For an extra entry, share with someone through facebook, twitter or email. Just leave another comment. This will run until Monday September 12th.