Food is a lot like music.
Hearing the same songs over and over and over again gets boring to a point where it almost hurts your brain.
Have you ever had the distinct pleasure of listening to a Top 40 radio station for more than two hours?
It mind-numbingly repetitive. After hearing Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” for the fourth time, that’s your cue it’s time to turn the radio off.
…So am I the only one that still listens to the radio sometimes?
To beat boredom, you have to change the channel and switch it up. And when I say channel, I mean what you’re cooking.
Food boredom is painful. I’ve been there many, many times.
But it was never as bad as it was when I was working as an assistant and lived in an apartment with a broken oven.
These were my what I will refer to as my “soggy salad days.”
During my soggy salad days, while getting ready for work I used to haphazardly throw some lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, feta and cucumbers in a Tupperware, top it with some olive oil and salt, and call that lunch.
Come 12:30 PM, my salad was so sad it could be in one of those ASPCA commercials.
Most of the time, I would just throw the salad out and buy a bagel from Au Bon Pain. Bad, I know.
The food you prepare shouldn’t be so unappetizing to you that you toss it (which also means you’re wasting money) and buy something else in its place.
I want to encourage you to take risks in your kitchen this year! It’s the only way you’ll discover new dishes you’ll LOVE and get better at cooking.
This post breaks down three ways you can plan, create and cook meals so you’ll never run into food boredom again — guaranteed.
And if you do get food bored after using these methods, I invite you to shoot me an email at talia(at)workweeklunch(dot)com to tell me you’re bored of what you’re cooking and I’ll give you suggestions any time.
1. Choose 1 protein, 1 complex carb and 1-3 vegetables
This is my favorite foolproof method for creating healthy, delicious meals that aren’t at all complicated.
If you think about it, this is exactly the method that popular lunch chains like Dig Inn use.
My go-to Dig Inn lunch was always salmon with a quinoa salad and roasted broccoli on the side. In my book, that’s a perfect lunch… except the part where it costs $12 to buy.
I give Dig Inn partial credit for the inspiration behind my healthy work lunches.
Once I stopped making soggy salads and adopted this 1 protein / 1 complex carb / 1-3 vegetable format for meals, my lunches got a whole lot more exciting (and tasty).
Yup, this BBQ chicken, asparagus and spicy sweet potatoes lunch beats a soggy salad any day.
This format makes choosing what to eat so much easier instead of searching for recipes that cover all the bases.
Here are some examples of one-pot and pan meals you can build with this format:
- Sweet Potato Skillet: Sweet potatoes (complex carb) + black beans (protein) + corn, tomatoes and kale (veggies)
- Moroccan Chickpeas: chickpeas (protein) + zucchini and kale (veggies) + sweet potato (carb)
- Tofu stir fry: tofu (protein) + broccoli and carrots (veggies) + rice (carb)
- Pineapple Chicken: chicken (protein) + green beans and pineapple (veggies) + rice (carb)
2. Make “POP” meals (Pot/Oven/Pan)
The way you cook your food has everything to do with the texture and the way it tastes.
Even though this method requires a little bit more cleanup, you can build a huge variety of meals this way. Plus, you’ll get more comfortable (and confident) cooking several things at once.
To break this down, split your meals into three main ingredients. You would prepare one on a pan, one in the oven and one in a pot.
Here are some examples of meals you can make with this format:
- Whole wheat pasta (pot) + baked chicken (oven) + sauteed string beans (pan)
- Brown rice (pot) + baked tofu (oven) + sauteed broccoli and snow peas (pan)
- Quinoa (pot) + roasted mixed vegetables (oven) + pan roasted chickpeas (pan)
Of course, you could cook a meal that requires just a pot and pan or any other combination.
3. Get global and explore your favorite cuisines
What are your favorite types of food? You don’t need to make quinoa with veggies all the time.
I’m a huge fan of Mexican and Asian food, hence all of my burrito bowls and stir fry meals.
Maybe you’re obsessed with Italian food. Or you’ve always wanted to try making a Spanish meal.
Batch cooking lunches is the best time to ease yourself into cooking a new type of cuisine. It doesn’t need to be fancy!
Sure, cooking a new type of cuisine can be intimidating at first, but you can simplify recipes easily.
I made a chicken fajita rice bowl a few weeks ago for the first time and it was such an easy spin on a Mexican favorite!
Even though burrito bowls are delicious, they could get boring too.
Here are some examples of simple flavor profiles for different cuisines:
- Mexican: cumin, oregano, garlic powder, chili powder
- Mediterranean: parsley, garlic, sea salt, sage, rosemary, lemon
- Italian: basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
- Spanish: paprika, cayenne, garlic, saffron, nutmeg
- Asian: ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili sauce, lime
If you choose what to cook based on different cuisines you like eating when you’re out, you’ll never get food boredom.
This week I challenge you to try one of these methods to avoid boring lunches (and weeknight dinners).
Are you okay with doing some extra dishes in favor of trying something new? Try the “POP” method for more variety and to get comfortable cooking a few things at once.
Are you bored of eating bland food? Try learning how to cook the one cuisine you’re ALWAYS craving whenever you go out to eat.
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