It can become easy to get in a rut of planning and cooking the same healthy meals repeatedly. I have been guilty of this and it can lead to meal burnout. When you are trying to consume a healthy diet this can happen because a crucial part of a healthy diet is cooking your own meals instead of turning to unhealthy convenient foods such as frozen dinners or fast food. When I get in these ruts I have to recognize it and prevent it. I do not want myself or my family to get bored of consuming healthy meals, therefore, I turn to these strategies to prevent food burnout.
» Choose a variety of healthy foods: If you feel like a healthy meal has to consist of grilled chicken and unseasoned steamed veggies, think again. Healthy cooking doesn’t have to be bland. Incorporate a variety of proteins into your cooking, such as turkey, fish, bison, beans, tofu and eggs. Spruce up your veggies and try zucchini noodles, sautéed garlic spinach, vinegar-based coleslaw, mashed sweet potatoes and artichokes with roasted garlic.
» Have meal themes throughout the week: Provide ways that your family can look forward to healthy meals each week. For instance, make Monday vegetarian night, Tuesday Mexican, Wednesday healthy pizza and Thursday make a do-it-yourself salad.
» Obtain healthy recipes: Ask friends for their favorite healthy recipes and go-to meals to add to your meal rotations.
» Try a new recipe every week: You probably have your favorite go-to meals, but try to incorporate one new recipe each week to keep from getting burnt out on your go-to foods. Try a new one-pot meal or make over a favorite meal.
» Try a new veggie: Add color to your plate by incorporating different veggies weekly. Colorful peppers, dark greens, and orange veggies, such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash opposed to white foods make a plate more appealing.
» Use spices: If you are not familiar with incorporating spices, it may take some experimenting and practice to become comfortable with them. Adding herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic, basil and rosemary can really amp up a meal. Chicken sautéed with fresh garlic and onions, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon gives it a burst of flavor compared to plain chicken.
» Add sauces: DIY sauces can help add flavor to your usual meals. It is easy to whip up pesto or an oil based dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. These quick dressings can turn any bland meal into a gourmet meal.
» Make Ahead Freezer Meals: Make ahead freezer meals are convenient because when you are not in the mood to cook, it alleviates the prep work for when you have more time and energy.
» Try a meal delivery service for a few weeks: When I feel like I’m really in a rut with meal burnout or if I know I will be facing some overwhelming weeks, I will order a meal delivery service to help take pressure off having to decide what to cook. A meal delivery service can fit in anyone’s budget too. There are always Groupons and promo codes available to try a meal delivery service for a few weeks. And, there are more affordable meal delivery services available such as Dinnerly and EveryPlate. To help offset the cost of a meal delivery service, I cut back on my weekly grocery bill. You can also choose healthy meals from delivery services. Opt for the protein- and vegetable-based choices and avoid the heavy carb dishes such as pasta or sandwiches.
Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.