Nutrition Articles

Break Out of Your Food Rut!

5 Ways to Make Happier Meals

1KSHARES
What's for dinner? What are you eating for breakfast or lunch tomorrow?

If you aren't feeling excited about your meals, or if your kids are complaining about eating chicken again, you may be in a food rut.
 
It happens easily; between work obligations, social plans, and kids' soccer practices, we tend to fall back on easy-to-prepare staple meals that don’t require much thought or effort. And for some of us, cooking doesn’t come easily or isn’t a pleasure, so we rely on a handful of recipes we can confidently prepare.
 
While it's wonderful to have a few go-to meals you can rely on in a pinch, it can get old when you rely on the same meals too often. And that lack of excitement about what's on your plate could lead you to reach for additional snacks or sweets to bring more pleasure back to your eating—which can be a problem if you're trying to manage your weight or eat healthier.
 
We recently asked SparkPeople members if they were stuck in a diet rut, and we were surprised by how many people replied. Member CHOUBROU summed it up this way: ''The food rut is my biggest problem! I fall into it because eating the same go-to meals is convenient and easy. But eventually I get tired of eating the same thing, and that leads me to the temptation of eating out more, eating more frozen/processed meals, etc.''
 
SparkPeople member KALENSMOMMY5 asked for help: ''One of the main reasons I fall off the healthy eating wagon is that I get caught in a major food rut! As I am a full-time working single mom to a toddler, I have very limited time to cook, so I end up buying the same grab-and-go foods week after week. The unhealthy choices start to look more and more attractive as I get more bored with my standard foods. Help would be much appreciated!''
 
Lots of folks told us they’ve hit the wall, cooking-wise. What’s more, they shared great advice on how you can break boring food habits, no matter what causes them.
 
5 Signs You're Stuck in a Food Rut (and What to Do about It)
 
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About The Author

Bryn Mooth Bryn Mooth
Bryn Mooth is an independent copywriter and journalist focused on food, wellness and design; she's also a Master Gardener and enthusiastic green thumb. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.

Member Comments

  • Great article! I have felt like being stuck in a rut recently and decided to see a dietitian to solve this problem... My reason is I have odd food habits: I don't eat meat, I eat fish only if it's perfectly clean (and only some kinds), I don't eat most kinds of cheese...So I tend to eat the same things day after day. - 9/4/2014 10:17:47 AM
  • MELISSABRILL
    Two things that work for me when I start getting bored with what I'm making -
    (1)as someone else said - browsing my cookbooks Saturday morning when I'm making my shopping list and deciding what I'm going to make during the week and

    (2)www.supercoo
    k.com -- it's pretty great because you enter what foods you have (or usually have) around the house and then it will develop a list of recipes that it pulls from all kinds of recipe websites that you can make with things you have. If you want to narrow the list to something that includes a specific food - you can search through the longer list for that food (or for a type of meal, cuisine, etc). It works best if you already have a well rounded stock of spices and different types of food - but it will bring up other things and just tell you what ingredients you don't have for that meal.

    When I'm feeling less than inspired (or when my fall back is pasta which I'm trying to avoid as much as possible) I go to supercook and randomly type in an ingredient in the search and see what comes up. I also try to think of something I used to like but am not eating now and see if I can figure out a way to make it healthier -- my latest success was egg "burritos" (they're in the sparkrecipe database) - basically thin omelets wrapped around refried beans, topped with salsa, guac and skim milk yogurt. Even my omnivore partner keeps requesting those. - 12/4/2013 2:18:00 AM
  • Lately I have been setting aside a few minutes on a Sunday morning to browse the cookbooks that have been gathering dust on my shelves. I choose one to three recipes, trying to match things that have some of the same ingredients, then I go shopping. I've never been great at planning meals for a whole week, but this is a way to mix it up without getting too complicated. - 11/14/2013 10:13:47 AM
  • Thanks for sharing - 11/9/2013 5:56:03 AM
  • I have never believed in fixing two different meals for the family and/or me. I firmly believe that moderation is the name of the game. Of course it is usually difficult to do, for various reasons. However, in the long run, that will be the only thing that will consistently work.

    Eat what appeals to you, just less of it.

    Log everything so that you can see where you are being more successful and where you are being less successful.

    Of course there are things that should probably be cut out of our eating, such as sugary, salty, and deep fried foods, as being pretty unhealthy overall.

    So again, portion control is the name of the game. - 11/7/2013 10:15:06 PM
  • This post, as well as many of the comments, made me smile. While I must admit that I am guilty of some of these things, the one that best describes me is the last one - I TOTALLY EMBRACE MY RUT!!!

    Hubby teases me about how I eat the same things day after day after day - cereal & fruit & a coffee protein shake for breakfast and Greek yogurt & fruit & some almonds for lunch. But guess what? I love those foods - a lot! Besides, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't a rut when you're bored & tired of what you're eating? Which I'm not!

    Hubby's not like me though; he needs much more variety in his diet than I do & because we both work full days & are just simply too tired to cook when we get home, we typically make a couple of dishes on the weekend and just heat & eat those during the week. Most weeks, we're not eating the same thing for dinner more than twice, which gives hubby the variety he craves. - 11/6/2013 4:53:40 PM
  • I do enjoy cooking but I am still inexperienced at it and don't wanna mess a meal up so I play it safe..Unfortuneat
    ely, my husband is like CHICKEN AGAIN?? So this has motivated me to find new recipes and make something exciting for dinner!!! Thanks!! - 11/6/2013 8:18:38 AM
  • I love and enjoy cooking. With my son being a teenager, I sometimes will offer some of my healthy treats, but for the most part, it is me being creative and trying new flavors. - 10/18/2013 7:29:12 PM
  • My family refuses to eat "diet food" , love meat and carbs. I hate to cook so I refuse to cook 2 different meals. I tend to make a salad, and eat a small portion of the family's meal. - 10/18/2013 12:13:33 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 10/16/2013 7:38:19 AM
  • I think portion control is the most important thing in dieting or just losing weight.I have decided to just "cut back"on the amounts we are eating,both Hubby and me are trying to lose weight and he is almost at his goal,I still have a ways to go but we have both gained back a few pounds and we decided that portion control is the answer.Today and tonight we will try to eat a little less than what we usually eat which has been to much!We eat very healthy and get a good variety of foods to eat soooooo. - 10/10/2013 11:11:15 AM
  • Recently I decided to let Sparkpeople nutrition tracker plan my meals for me...I've never done this before and I"ve been using SP for a long, long time. By doing this, I have tried several new recipes that are simple to make and quite tasty! It has made meal planning easier, too. I simply print off the grocery list provided for the week to come, cross off anything I already have, and go from there. It's also saved me money by doing this..I don't buy anything extra that I don't really need. The nutrition tracker is very flexible, too. If i don't like the meal suggestion I can look for something else to eat or log food in manually. I also added a goal to try one new recipe a month. That's also been helping from getting bored with cooking. Luckily , it's just me and my husband and he will try anything! - 5/20/2013 11:43:15 AM
  • I love the Embrace the Rut idea. Being in a rut is not such a bad thing especially when there are minor things you can do to enhance these go to foods. Also, I find that stepping out of the rut is nice on occasion. I find that when I do so I look forward to getting back into the rut! - 5/19/2013 8:56:56 AM
  • Thanks for sharing! Good reminders. - 5/19/2013 7:19:36 AM
  • Get to know your spices - 'cause no matter how often you cook chicken (or in my case, tofu stir-fry) you can make it different with different spices. Nutritional yeast - yum! coconut, cardamom and cloves? fabulous. and hot pepper flakes - they can wake up anything. - 5/19/2013 5:50:09 AM

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