I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “I’m in a food rut”. What does that really mean? Well the definition of a rut is a settled or established pattern, habit or course of action, especially a boring one. You know - the daily grind, same old stuff, the same meals over and over, yada yada yada. Some folks find this really hard to avoid when they make the move to a gluten free diet.
So, if you’re in a food rut, how do you get out of it? Well, the simplest answer is to eat something different.
Before you punch me for such a lame suggestion, I’m going to give you 5 tips on exactly how to do just that.
Use Real Food Ingredients
This is the number one most important tip for staying out of a food rut. Use single ingredient foods, whole foods or real foods. They are naturally gluten free, have no labels and are in the produce, meat and seafood sections of the grocery store. If you keep making meals out of a box, you’ll keep making the same meal. If you don’t believe me Google chicken recipes and you’ll get back 77,000,000 results. They call for chicken not chicken in a box.
Using real food ingredients will save you lots of money. You can purchase those organic meats on sale, in bulk and, for beef, choose those less expensive cuts that take longer to cook. Pull out that crockpot and let it cook while you sleep. Then portion out the meats, freeze what you’re not eating now and you’re ready to make a few of those millions of recipe results you just Googled.
There are so many inspirational resources for recipes and ideas for your meals. The list includes wonderful cookbooks, both gluten-free and not, along with websites, magazines and cooking shows. You can even work with a health coach to both inspire and inform you. Not a food magazine junkie? Then just take a look at the covers to see what the latest and greatest food trends are out there. If you like what you see get the magazine and the recipe. Learn how to substitute non-gluten-free ingredients with ones that fit your diet. This way you can grab any recipe and start cooking!
Get out of your rut by planning a weekly menu so you’ll have the ingredients on hand to make unique meals and know what you’re doing with them. Without a plan, you’ll end up grabbing the same old thing, which you’re already bored with and tired of making. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes it takes to plan out your week and another 15 to 20 minutes to plan out the whole month. Use the resources mentioned above for creative ideas and recipes. I like to start with an inventory of what I have on hand so I can build that into the menu and save money. I often end up with more than a week’s worth of ideas. Make a multi-week menu to keep those good ideas from going to waste.
Variety is the Spice of Life
If you’ve never compared ethnic recipes side by side you might be surprised to learn that there are common ingredients that span the world. What changes are the spices and herbs used which changes the flavor profile of each dish. For instance, let’s take a simple chicken stew. You can make it Italian with tomatoes, Mexican with cilantro and green chilies, French with white wine, Indian with cardamom, turmeric and coconut milk, Moroccan with raisins, cinnamon and ginger, Greek with olives and so on. So gather up your spices and travel the world on your dinner plate. My two favorite sources for spices are Penzeys and The Spice House. As with any spice, you must make sure they are gluten-free. These two companies will tell you which ones are not and which ones are gluten-free, as are most.
If you have just plain run out of ideas and nothing is inspiring you then you can use a menu planning service or you can visit the many blogs that post weekly menu plans and use theirs. For instance on my website you can search on Menu Plan Monday and find many weekly menus or Monthly Menu Plan and have your whole month planned out. A few of my favorite sites sharing menus include Celiacs in the House, Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom, and Celiac Family. If you use a menu planning service, you can have the menu plan, recipes and shopping list all created for you on a weekly basis. If you are interested in this please contact me.
So, if you are in a food rut grab some new sources of inspiration, plan out your menu, shop for real food ingredients and spices and get cooking. You can have a different meal every day of the year!