Meal Planning Monday ~ Mix It Up

We all need to shake things up occasionally to get ourselves out of a rut.  This is also true for Meal Planning!  If you keep eating the same meals over and over again, you’re going to be tempted to ditch the meal plan and order takeout.  You don’t have to try strange and exotic recipes – unless you want to – to mix things up and inject some variety into your dinners.  Here are some easy ways to do this.

  • Buy in-season fruits and veggies and devise your meal plan around them.  I love going to my local co-op and seeing what’s on sale.  I just bought four pounds of blueberries for $7 this week, so there will be blueberry pancakes, muffins, and berry smoothies on my breakfast menu.  I’ll be freezing a good portion of them for later use, too.
  • Mix up your meats.  If you typically make spaghetti with meatballs, try a different pasta dish like lasagna, chicken cacciatore, cheese ravioli, or eggplant rollitini.  The same thing goes for tacos.  If you usually make them with ground beef, try using canned chicken, pork cooked in the slow cooker, ground chicken, or even some fish tacos.
  • Mix up your cooking methods.  Usually grill your steaks and chicken breasts?  Try pan searing steak or broiling chicken this week.  Do you always cook your rice or potatoes the exact same way?  Try adding different seasonings or beans to your rice.  There are so many ways to prepare potatoes, so pick one you don’t usually do – baked, mashed, boiled, oven fried, hash browned, or fried in a skillet with onions and butter.
  • Incorporate a new side dish into a family favorite.  Instead of having mashed potatoes with your meatloaf and green beans, try some parmesan potatoes or mac and cheese.  Instead of rice and beans with your tacos, try some spicy quinoa instead.

            Be adventurous and work a few new meals, side dishes, or cooking methods into your meal plan in the next few weeks.  What are some of your tips and tricks to keep boredom from infecting your dinner time?