I have to admit I enjoy eavesdropping. A few weeks ago I heard a lady complaining to her friend about how tired she was of cooking and eating the same meals day after day. It’s not only people who are trying to stay within a budget that get bored, but it happens to everyone at some point. We get busy so we reach for our favorite standbys or we get stressed and make the same comfort foods. When we’re on a budget there’s a tendency to go around the store in automatic drive putting the same old boxes of this and that into the cart instead of taking a chance on something new. Every so often I find myself in this food rut and here’s what I do to snap out of it without going over budget-
When was the last time you looked through the cookbooks sitting on your shelves? Or how about the cookbooks you use on a daily basis? Are you just sticking with the same recipes and not being adventurous enough to try something new for your family?
Even picking up a new cookbook can be just want you need to zap you out of a slump. And no you don’t have to buy new books… although many bookstore chains do have some great buys in their bargain sections. Why not take a trip to the local library, bring home a few cookbooks and spend an hour or so looking through them. Sometimes that’s all you need to get some inspiration.
Shop Somewhere Different
I have a very upscale supermarket close to where I live and while I don’t go there more than a couple of times a year when I do, I head to their deli. I might buy the odd item or two but mostly I go there to get ideas for dishes I can make at home but at half the cost. So if you have a similar market in your area stop by and see what inspires you the most.
Even the Not So Upscale Supermarket
I stick with my local supermarket because I earn points and get a discount when I buy gas. However, yesterday I wanted to buy some of my favorite tea and knew only one supermarket in town stocks it. I decided to do some grocery shopping and it’s amazing what switching stores can do for your creativity. I found some spices in the international section that I’ll be using in soups I plan to make next week. Take a trip to a new to you store and see what new ideas you can come up with.
Take a Cooking Class
Don’t think you have to be a master chef or have lots of money to take cooking classes. Where I live there are several community education programs that offer numerous cooking classes for all levels of experience, plus they’re fairly affordable too. If you’re not that confident about doing actual hands on cooking you can opt for a demonstration only class. In both cases the teachers usually give you a pack of recipes to take home. Not only will these new dishes get you rethinking dinner, but just seeing someone else do some cooking will also spark new ideas.
Go on a Restaurant Tour
No, this one isn’t going to cost you a penny. With the help of the Internet you can find the Web site for just about any restaurant and most sites offer a complete list of their menu items too. Peruse it and see what inspires you. Maybe challenge yourself to come up with something similar but within your own budget. Just before the holidays I saw a flyer with a menu for a restaurant that was just about to open. I noticed they had bread pudding. When I checked out the description under the listing I saw they used cinnamon rolls instead of bread. That got me thinking. I often make bread pudding and always looking for ways to make it different. I gave the cinnamon rolls a try and have to say it was the best bread pudding I’ve tasted. Switch just one ingredient in a recipe and sometimes that’s all it takes.
While you’re checking out restaurant Web sites there are plenty of cooking and food related ones that can help you put together new dishes. Here’s a site with links to many-