How to snap out of a cooking rut

Baked Alaska 

Even the most enthusiastic of cooks runs out of inspiration at some point. Whether it's a busy schedule that leaves you too tired to plan, a healthy eating resolution, dreary weather or just plain boredom, you can find yourself in a dull routine, making the same dishes and not feeling inspired to do anything different. If this describes you, don't despair. Instead, read Sam Worley's advice on how to break out of a cooking rut

The first piece of advice may sound like heresy to cookbook lovers - Worley begins by instructing you to take a hard look at your cookbook collection and donate any books you haven't used in the last five years. Don't think of that as a loss, says Worley, but rather "as gaining space for cookbooks you'll actually use. Any new cookbook gives the home chef an opportunity to stretch her legs, and right now we're in a golden age: whether it's  Appalachian or  surrealist cuisine you're interested in, there's probably a book for you."

Other ideas include buying an ingredient you know nothing about and making a dish when you bring it home (EYB is the perfect resource to find a recipe for this strategy), or tackling a big project that you've never tried before. Make puff pastry or Baked Alaska from scratch, for example.  Another way to find inspiration is to explore a cuisine that you like (or think you'd like) but haven't cooked much yourself. With the many blogs and online magazine recipes available, you're sure to find a recipe that will intrigue you. 

What strategies do you employ to break out of a boring cooking rut? 

Photo of How to make baked Alaska ice cream cake from Food Wishes by John Mitzewich

3 Comments

  • manycookbooks  on  1/16/2017 at 1:27 PM

    You are absolutely right about one thing: it is indeed heresy to get rid of cookbooks you haven't used in 5 years. Just because you haven't used a cookbook in 5 years shouldn't imply that you're "in a rut". Perhaps the author doesn't understand that in addition to using cookbooks, some people read them like others read fiction and it is a pleasure to pick up a book from my collection, which I haven't used in some time, read through it and make a note of new recipes I want to try, no matter how long I've had the book oro what year it was published. So many people seem to think that less is more, and that may be true for some, but I have never been a "minimalist". Cookbooks, using them and reading them are my passion and they are a wealth of social information if anyone takes the time to read them.

  • Rinshin  on  1/16/2017 at 3:29 PM

    I go on culinary vacation by cooking so I don't get in a rut. I love reading how food evolved or evolving through cookbooks. I don't have enough days in my life to cook all the foods I want to make. But I do have the luxury of being retired younger than normal and having a leisurely lifestyle with an easy going spouse. I cooked mostly every night when I worked but there were days I just felt too tired and by cooking double portions, we were able to eat at home when too tired to cook.

  • KarinaFrancis  on  1/16/2017 at 3:41 PM

    I set myself a cooking challenge every year to prevent getting into a rut, but the thing that has really reinvigorated my cooking over the last 2 years is teaching my friend's husband how to cook. Watching him discover things, seeing photos he sends, the pride he has when something turns out well, planning our next lesson and the appreciation of his wife helps me to remember why I love to cook. Now he is starting to involve his daughter in his cooking, you cant get better than that.

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