10 Ways to Get Out of a Meal Rut and Creative With Your Food


You have your favorite haunts and your go-to dishes. You know what you like and you know where to find it. But sometimes, after a while, even the foods we love the most can lose a little of their luster. If you’ve slidden into a food rut, don’t worry, there’s hope!

Here are a few tips and tricks–both simple and zany–for shaking up your eating habits and putting some spice back into your meals.

Server’s choice

This first one is a chance for you to try something you might not otherwise enjoy, while letting go of a little control. Head into your favorite restaurant, where you know the food is good but you tend to only order that one dish that is a-maz-ing. Let the server know about any food restrictions, then ask for their recommendation. Order whatever it is, even if it’s a little outside your comfort zone.

Advanced level: tell the server to bring whatever they recommend without telling you ahead of time. Again, warn them of any restrictions!

Dinner share

Does making dinner sound like a drag each night? Find a friend or two who feels the same, and take turns hosting a casual meal each week, or every other week. You’ll get to try each other’s specialties and share inspirations for new ways to try your favorites. It’s a great way to infuse your evening meal with a little social interaction, while also giving your tummy something new and yummy.


Find a new local

You may already shop locally whenever you can, and have a favorite produce provider you go to every week. Walk around a different part of your neighborhood to find out what tiny shops and mini farmers might be selling local wares nearby. You could find a new bread to fall in love with, or a squash varietal with a flavor you didn’t know you had been craving.


Another favorite

California is a place of incredible potential when it comes to restaurants, especially the Greater Bay Area. If you find yourself needing more variety in your life, a new restaurant can be just the place to start. Ask for recommendations on Facebook, search popular reviews, or take a walk.


Secret ingredients

Browse the menu for an ingredient that you’ve never tried before. Tasting a new food can be rather exciting, and open you up to flavors you didn’t know you loved. Personally, we think everyone should try tempeh, umami, portobello, mycoprotein, sunflower butter, and seitan, at least once. Is there an ingredient that your friends can’t believe you haven’t tried yet?


Start a meal challenge

Aim to eat something different for at least one meal of every day. This can shake up your routine and prompt you to explore new foods that might not always be on your shelf. PETA has this two-week vegan meal plan, and sites like this one curate vegetarian meals from other bloggers to add some variety to your life.

Or pick an ingredient that you know you like, or that is good for you, and challenge yourself to find 10 different, delicious ways to prepare it. How many ways can you cook quinoa? What about okra? Tap into your creativity!

Host a recipe swap

Plan a potluck dinner at your home or at a nearby park and ask your friends to bring their favorite go-to vegetarian meals. Along with the dish, have everyone write down the recipe on 3×5 cards to pass around. Or, go paperless with an email thread sent around later that night, or a shared Google doc. Everyone should leave that evening feeling satiated and excited to try the creations at home.


Book it

Cookbooks can spark creativity or provide much-needed parameters. And plant-based recipe books are full to bursting with dishes that rely on flavor and flair, not animal meat, to make something tasty. Saturn had a few to recommend in our ultimate gift guide from two years ago.


Sign up for a CSA

With Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), small farms offer a certain number of “shares” to the local public. A share is often an allotment of the farm’s product purchased on a membership basis. Each week, the subscriber will receive a box of fresh produce or other product from that farm. As you can imagine, California is bursting with opportunities.

Iron Chef it

You know you’ve always thought that you would rock Iron Chef if you were ever given the chance. And now you can! Write down every ingredient in your refrigerator, put the papers in a bowl, and pick four at random. Then simply create your masterpiece!

Make it a game with friends by picking ingredients for each other, all the same or different, and serve dinner for you both.

No more food rut for you! Now you have ten new ways to spice up your eating habits. (Oh! Spice! Make that 11 ways!) Enjoy all the flavors!

How do you get creative about food when you’re in a meal slump? Share your ideas!