'What shall I cook tonight?' you wonder, staring at your kitchen cupboards. But you end up cooking the same old things you always cook, because it's easier than thinking up some new ideas. And once your cooking gets into a rut, you get bored with what you're eating. So if you need to shake up your cooking routine, try these tips to get the inspiration flowing …
1 Ask for Assistance
If you're always wondering what that strange ingredient is at the ethnic grocery store, or how to cook ingredients you see in the deli, ask! Staff in specialist stores are only too happy to help you out with advice. They'll tell you the best way to cook ingredients and give you suggestions for dishes you could use them in.
2 Innovate with Interchangeable Ingredients
You may think that you always have to use the same ingredients or serve the same accompaniments with a dish. But there's no reason why you can't switch it about. Instead of serving rice with a meal, try another grain such as couscous or quinoa - or swap one vegetable for another. Just one change can make a massive difference to a meal.
3 Recipe Generator
If you're really stuck for ideas, try a recipe generator. These sites will give you random ideas for recipes, based on ingredients or a style of cooking. Ticking Indian, main course and vegetables at reciperoulette.tv gave me Spinach & Sweet Potato Curry. That sounds so delicious I'm definitely inspired!
4 Investigate New Types of Cuisine
There's a recipe book or website for every style of cooking these days, so try something completely new to shake up your cooking. Are you a meat-eater? Try a vegetarian dish. Or venture into a cuisine that you've never tried at all, such as Nepalese (similar to Indian) or West African. There are so many different styles of cooking out there - be adventurous!
5 Get into Recipe Planning
One reason why your cooking can get into a rut is if you don't plan ahead. If you decide what you're going to eat there and then, and it's too late to go to the store, you're stuck with what you have in stock. Plan your meals for the week so that you can go to the store and stock up on the ingredients to make exciting and tasty meals, rather than hastily throwing a meal together.
6 Read Cooking Blogs
Like every other category, there are countless cooking blogs out there. They're a great source of inspiration for your own meals. Food is as much about visuals as taste, and looking at the beautiful photos some bloggers post is sure to get you inspired to try out their recipes.
7 Consult Your Cookbooks
I bet you've got lots of cookbooks that you never actually use! So get them down from the shelves and raid them for ideas. Even if you don't want to make the exact recipes, you can use them for inspiration; recipes don't have to be slavishly followed. You can adapt them to your own tastes or make them simpler if they have too many ingredients for your liking.
So you've no excuse for staying in your cooking rut when there's so much inspiration out there! How else are you stuck in a routine?