This post is a direct result of my recent struggle in the kitchen, which is that I’ve been in a massive recipe RUT.
I’m sure you’ve been there — you just find yourself cooking the same 5 dishes over and over again, looking through the same Pinterest board, and fantasizing about eating out just so you can experience some variety of any sorts. I think this is pretty common for any home cook, but probably moreso amongst us AIP cooks, as of course we do have a *few* more parameters to stay within. 🙂
So anyways, I started thinking about some ways I could dig myself out of my most recent rut, which has included variations on the ever-so-popular “grilled chicken” and “roasted veggies a la Mitch” for about three consecutive weeks, and I wanted to share those ideas with you today.
Without further ado, here’s my “Recipe Rut Rescue Kit”:
Look outside of paleo and AIP for inspiration
I know that when you follow a diet that’s a bit limited and follows strict guidelines, it makes the most sense to just follow recipes that are specifically “AIP” or “Paleo” because then you know for sure that it’s compliant, and you don’t have to overthink things. Still, with convenience can sometimes come redundancy, which is what I’ve run into at times.
To spice things up, I took a page from my Dad’s playbook (he’s a Chef, and enjoys cooking paleo/AIP for me whenever we’re together), and learned to branch out a bit.
Here’s my general process for this: I begin by finding “standard” (or maybe just gluten-free or dairy-free) recipes in magazines or newspapers, on cooking shows, and of course online via food bloggers, Pinterest and recipe search engines like allrecipes.com or epicurious.com. I’ve even found menu items at restaurants that I find interesting and thought about how they made it or what ingredients went into it.
From those sources, I identify 5-10 recipe IDEAS that I like — whether it be pizza, pasta, loaded baked potato, or a casserole of sorts. Once I’m inspired by an idea, I then think about how I could “AIP-fy” that recipe. For instance, I did this on my AIP beef stroganoff recipe — I decided I wanted to make that recipe, found a few examples of how it’s traditionally made, compiled a list of the common ingredients found in each recipe, then determined how to sub out non-compliant ingredients for AIP-friendly ones. It took a little tinkering, but was well-worth it in the end.
Doing this opens up a whole new world, and presents a fun / creative challenge in the kitchen. I guarantee a couple rounds of this will have your creative gears fine-tuned and turning again!
Buy a new cookbook or find a new blog
Obviously a great remedy for a recipe rut is to introduce new recipes! If I’m having a special case of the kitchen blues, I always look for a new cookbook to give me a jolt. This could be an AIP-specific cookbook (check out my Resources page for ideas) or blog, a paleo one, or even just a beautiful “standard” cookbook (or blog) that catches your eye — remember you can always refer to the process outlined above in #1 to “AIP-fy” cool recipes you find!
Get your creative juices flowing
A little creativity boost can go a long way when you’re meal planning or developing recipes (for your blog or for your family!). Here’s some ideas to help get your creative juices flowing:
- Watch an inspiring cooking show like Chef’s Table (on Netflix). To me, this is the easiest and most effective way to transport myself into cooking Heaven.
- Get an adult coloring book, paint, draw, read, write, sign up for a community art class, explore a new neighborhood, listen to music, visit an art gallery, admire some street art, or watch some stand-up comedy. These may not involve cooking, but it’s all related. Cooking is an art, so immersing yourself with any sort of art (even if it’s coloring outside the lines in a coloring book) will help you to increase your motivation and creativity in the kitchen, too.
Make it a family affair
You know what they say – two heads are better than one! My family and I used to play this game where we’d pick a cuisine and then a “course” (appetizer, salad, main entree, side, dessert) out of a hat. Once we knew what cuisine it was going to be, my parents would turn my sister and I loose to come up with our own unique way to contribute the course we pulled (and, my parents would be doing theirs as well).
It was both fun and exciting, and even got a little competitive which made it even more intriguing. By the end of the game, we had a 4-course meal that was completely unique and inspired by different ways of thinking and point of views. Talk about a fresh perspective in the kitchen!
Sign up for a meal planning or meal delivery service
This may be a last resort for some, but if you’re pressed for time and needing a quick fit, it’s well-worth it. A great site is Realplans.com, which offers tons of AIP and paleo meal planning options for a very affordable price. I’d highly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. Britt and I used it for a few months back in the day when I was feeling extra sick and bogged down, and the ready-to-go meal plans and shopping lists were a breath of fresh air during a difficult time. Additionally, it introduced us to so many new recipes, which really helped spice things up in our kitchen.
Additionally, signing up for a paleo meal delivery service (like Paleo On The Go) – even if it’s just for a week or two – could be enough to jumpstart your motivation in the kitchen, as you’ll get a break from cooking and have the chance to try out new recipes you may have not considered otherwise. I’ve considered this lately but haven’t taken the plunge yet — perhaps soon though…
So that’s it! Five tips to help you re-energize and dig yourself out of your recipe rut.
Have you experienced a rut like this? Do you think any of these tips could help? (Or, how did you get out of YOUR rut??)