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Well seasoned tips to put magic back into pandemic plagued meal planning
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Well seasoned tips to put magic back into pandemic plagued meal planning

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Six months of pandemic and you’ve had enough of your own cooking. I get in the same day-to-day rut with meals too. It takes a bit of creativity and motivation to push the envelope and try something new.

Here are a few ideas to help you move beyond routine cuisine.

Shop someplace new

Most people find it a chore to go to the grocery, haul it home, carry the bags indoors and put everything away. It’s a project.

For fun, plan an event to a different grocery. Take your list but wander the aisles, looking for foods that usually don’t find their way into your cart. Consider this to be a field trip and take your time. Obviously, you don’t want to do this after a hectic day of work when you may be tired and rushed.

Your “new” store may have an appealing fresh fish department. Knowledgeable staff may be able to help you with your selection and tell you how the catch of the day is best prepared.

Every produce department is different, and you may find an undiscovered variety of lettuce, apple or tomato.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea while you shop and make it an adventure. Ideally, go alone.

Make a foreign flair meal

Do a bit of research to discover what people eat in another country. Create a meal in your home kitchen that mimics what you would eat if you went there. Pair with appropriate music while dining and follow up with a movie that follows the theme.

Discover a new vegetable

Challenge yourself to find a vegetable once or twice a month that you rarely, or never, eat. Look online to find ways to prepare it. You may discover that you really do like eggplant prepared in a ragout with creamy polenta. Or not.

Re-imagine an old standby

Take a family favorite and make it a new way. For example, if you have a meatloaf recipe that you’ve followed for the last 20 years, check out a new way to make it. I googled the number of ways there are to make chicken and found a site that claimed 101 ways. Be bold and give one of them a try.

Phone a friend

Call a good friend or someone you’ve been thinking and ask about their favorite meal. It may be something you’ve never thought about. Odds are that they’re bored with their cooking and may ask you for a recipe in return. Consider it a win-win.

Spice it up

This doesn’t need to be anything crazy. Take a look at what seasonings you have on hand and use something different that you typically do. Remember that seasonings and spices are best when they’re fresh. If you’ve had something in your cupboard longer than you can recall, it's lost something and should be replaced.

Watch a cooking show

Watching professionals cook can be daunting yet fun. You may not care to attempt  anything you see made on television, but it may spark some ideas. 

Hit the cookbooks

Remember the days when that’s where we looked for a recipe? Grab one of your tried-and-true cookbooks, dust it off and see what awaits.

Carry in

When you have had enough of the day and lack all inspiration, call your favorite spot and carry in.

Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com. Opinions expressed are the writer's.

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