How many times a day do you go look through the fridge and cupboards, hoping to magically find something new? If it’s a lot, don’t worry—you’re definitely not alone. Meal boredom is real.
Eating the same things over and over again can get pretty boring. And unfortunately, you’re not left with much choice when you’re quarantining. That’s why you need some expert advice in order to make your meals more exciting. Aside from tuning into Intuition’s live cooking classes for inspiration, you can also use some simple tricks to make the most of what you already have.
Here’s how to take your go-to meals from not-so-appetizing to totally drool-worthy.
1. Spice Things Up
You have numerous different spices in your spice cabinet, and there’s no better time than now to put them to use. “Adding spices to your foods can boost their plant power from phytochemicals and add flavor that can promote satiety and be aesthetically pleasing,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition. “Start to add at least three spices whenever you cook—or opt for blends like Mrs. Dash to get a lot of bang for your buck.”
Moreno recommends adding paprika to savory dishes like eggs and chicken, adding turmeric and black pepper to a latte or a meat rub, and adding cinnamon to coffee and breakfast foods like oatmeal, toast, and yogurt.
2. Replicate Your Favorite Take-Out Meal
If you’re over home-cooked meals, replicate your favorite take-out meal. “Search online for some recipes. For many chain restaurants, you can even find copycat-style recipes available,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. “And don’t just stop at making the dish. Pretend you’re truly eating out by setting the table, lighting candles, and creating the ambiance of your favorite sit-down eatery.”
3. Vary Your Nuts and Seeds
Sure, you can eat nuts and seeds as-is. Or, you can add them into your meals to add more flavor and texture. “You can access different nutrient profiles from different nuts and seeds, as well as their respective nut butters,” Moreno says. “Almonds (and almond butter) are high in vitamin E, sunflower seeds are high in magnesium, and just a few Brazil nuts can give you a day’s worth of selenium. Then there’s cashew butter, which has a mild flavor and can be made into an edible cookie dough with vanilla, dark chocolate chips, and some honey.”
4. Have Fun with Your Sides
Even if your main dishes are generally the same, having some fun with your sides can completely change your dining experience. “Swap out pasta with zucchini noodles, replace rice with quinoa, or experiment with sides you haven’t tried before such as farro, buckwheat, or bulgar,” Palinski-Wade says. “The change in taste and texture can be a welcome change. Plus, these new sides can offer health benefits, such as a boost of fiber.”
5. Get Creative with Cans
Dust off the cans in your pantry and put them to good use. There’s so much you can do with them—you just have to get creative. “Chunk light tuna, canned salmon, and canned chicken are great quarantine proteins. You can also mash in avocado, Greek yogurt, mustard, and spices for more nutrient density instead of using mayonnaise,” she says. “You can make a fully balanced canned quarantine meal with canned beans (rinsed and drained), your canned protein, a canned vegetable like spinach, and even canned sweet potatoes or pumpkins, which don’t contain any additives.”