Getting Out Of A Cooking Rut Starts With Opening A Book (And Your Mind)

According to a survey conducted by OnePoll, on average, Americans know 15 recipes by heart that they make on repeat. Doing some quick math means some of us eat the same meals over 20 times a year, relying on old standbys when we don't know what to make. It's no wonder many of us are in a cooking rut, lacking the joy we once experienced cooking, especially over the past few years.

While the natural change in the seasons persuades us to shift our recipes from roasts and stews in the winter to grilling and salads in the spring, eventually, we will tire of cooking and eating the same thing week after week. No one wants a hamburger or grilled chicken by the end of July. If this sounds familiar, we have a few suggestions to spark inspiration and shake things up.

Start with the cookbooks collecting dust on your bookshelves. Crack open a beloved chef's book or the new cookbook you got for Christmas that you haven't touched. If daring, try cookbook roulette by randomly opening a page and making that recipe, or ask a household member to choose a recipe to cook together. You may discover a new dish everyone loves.

If you still lack inspiration, it's time to treat yourself to something new. If you've loved Ina Garten's cookbooks in the past, why not treat yourself to the celebrity chef's newest cookbook, and see what new dishes the Barefoot Contessa has cooked up?

Rediscover a cookbook

Sometimes something new can nudge us — a sharp chef's knife or the pasta maker you've been dying to try. It doesn't need to be a pricy stand mixer (although that would spark joy); replacing the dried-out wooden spoon or refreshing the dishtowels can do the trick. With warmer weather, consider planting a garden. Growing fresh herbs and veggies is a motivator, and nothing tastes better than something you grew yourself. 

Don't limit yourself to cookbooks. Monthly magazines are treasure troves of seasonal dishes waiting to be enjoyed. You can pick up inspiration at the grocery store's checkout line. Flipping through those glossy pages, it's difficult not to find something that gets you salivating.

The internet is now the home cook's best friend. Along with dedicated cooking websites like Mashed, social media is brimming with new recipes and cooking hacks to spice up meal prep. The controversial platform TikTok has shifted from short dance videos to cooking videos and has become a search engine for meal inspiration spitting out viral recipes daily. Try searching for the latest TikTok trend.

If you struggle to make a decision, pay someone to do it. Meal delivery surfaces like Hello Fresh can inject new recipes into your routine that you can recreate down the road. There are dozens of options that cater to your lifestyle, from healthy meal prep delivery services like Sakara to Gobble, which focuses on family-friendly quick meals.