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Get out of a cooking rut in 3 easy steps

Are you fresh out of new cooking ideas? It's time to step out of your cooking rut as we head into spring. Start here with three easy steps for spring cleaning your cooking routine.

We tend to cook the same 8-10 recipes (really!), whether out of ease or comfort with our cooking skills. Often, it's because these are the very same items we happen to have in the kitchen - because we are cooking the same recipes.

At the same time, we also want to spend less time in the kitchen. I get that! But, hey, spring is the perfect time for new flavors, fresh herbs, delicate vegetables like pea tendrils, and brightly colored fruits offering an array of anticancer compounds.

Farmer Market spring produce
Get out of a cooking rut with spring produce

Just like it’s important to periodically deep clean and purge unnecessary clutter around the house (you do that, right?), it’s also time to reevaluate your meal planning, shopping and food prepping routine.

In step one, let's see if we can turn your pantry spring-forward, without losing an hour of sleep, I promise.

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Step 1: Take inventory of your pantry

It might sound scary, but now’s the time to venture into the depths of the pantry to see exactly what you have, then strategize how to use it (or if needed, toss it!). Save money as you work through shelf-stable items before purchasing duplicates.

Remember to re-stock those healthy staples that make fast weeknight meals, like a sheet pan dinner, a breeze. Some of my favorite items to stock for flavorful and quick meals are:

  • canned tomatoes

  • coconut milk

  • vegetable broth

  • nutrient-rich whole grains like quinoa

What can you get on the table in 20 minutes with some of these items? Try a simple beans and tomatoes dish for optimal nutrition. High fiber options like beans are recommended for breast cancer thrivers. This satisfying dinner serves 4.

Simple Beans and Tomatoes recipe
Simple Beans and Tomatoes cooks in 20 minutes

To make the simple dish, all you need are a can of diced tomatoes, 2 cans of cannellini beans, aromatics like shallots and garlic, and vegetable broth. Cook the shallots and garlic in a bit of olive oil until soft, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the canned beans and 1/2 cup broth, stirring constantly, then season with salt and pepper. The beans are ready and will taste home-cooked, when they look creamy.

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Step 2: Embrace seasonal produce

One simple way to get out of a cooking rut is to switch up your go-to fruits and vegetables based on the season. Bonus: This also means fresher and less expensive finds! Try my get-out-of-the-kitchen Grilled Caesar Salad for a simple spring side dish that will get rave reviews.

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad recipe
Try grilled romaine to get out of the kitchen rut

To make Grilled Caesar Salad:

  1. Lightly spray both sides of romaine hearts and place cut side down on grill.

  2. Grill for about 1-2 minutes until grill marks appear on lettuce. Flip and grill for an additional minute. The goal here is to sear the lettuce quickly, you don’t want to cook it.

  3. Remove hearts to platter cut sides up.

  4. Just before serving, drizzle hearts with caesar dressing. Pass extra dressing at table.

I also look forward to salads with seasonal fruits and vegetables such as one featuring strawberries and radishes, which come back in season in March.

Step 3: Find a meal planning method that actually works.

The key to meal planning is staying on track with healthy living goals. If your current setup isn’t working, it might be time to switch gears. Make it a goal to find an approach that feels doable - and more importantly, sustainable - in the long term. If this is something you struggle with, you might consider outsourcing.

Try my meal planning program to save time. This one is geared for thrivers and has a 5-day plant-based menu and shopping lists. Sign up here for a free 3-day trial:

This way you can focus on improving your culinary skills and enjoying home-cooked meals over endless recipe searching.

Dedicating time to freshen up your cooking routine will produce results that last. A simple, well-planned menu and well-stocked pantry will reduce your stress in the kitchen and limit the need for takeout.

Get out of your cooking rut, and set yourself up for success. Which step will you tackle first?

Subscribe! Get continuous updates on nutrition for cancer survivors. Click this button on the top of the blog page and you'll be directed to the subscribe link.

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