After a full year of being really light on the commitment front, activities are starting to work their way back into our schedule with the new spring season. Both girls are in soccer, Hailey is doing Girls on the Run, and with longer days, sometimes we are just spending more time outside and not in the kitchen
As a result, I often plan meals for dinner that I know are simple to make and that everyone likes. That’s all well and good, but can mean we end up eating repetitive meals. However, there are a few tricks I use to add excitement to repetitive meals- simple ways to mix things up to keep us all well fed and enjoying it.
5 Ways to Add Excitement to Repetitive Meals
Switch up the noodle
We love pasta as much as anyone. It’s easy to make and super kid friendly. I buy the bulk organic spaghetti pack at Costco, but it’s amazing how switching up the noodle can make a repetitive meal feel fresh. Swap spaghetti for some kid-favorite shapes like rotini, wagon wheel, or bow tie! Or play around with noodle alternatives like linguine made from hearts of palm (Palmini) or spiralized vegetables (looking at you, zoodles!).
Replace the protein
Another simple change that can make a repetitive meal feel like a new experience. Swapping chicken for shrimp, ground beef for ground turkey, or replacing chicken with tofu are simple switches to add more variety into your family’s diet without having to go all out on a new recipe.
Mix up the marinade
This one might take a little more of your attention than your go-to marinade that you can pour and mix with your eyes close. However, if you print off a couple new ones to keep handy, it’s a small change that can make a big difference in the feel and flavor of your meal.
Add a new sauce or dressing
Every time I make homemade salad dressing, I question why I don’t do it all the time. It really doesn’t take that long, is often healthier, and usually tastes better, too. If you find yourself pulling out the same two dressings for salads over and over (guilty!) or dipping things only into ketchup, grab a new one to try off the grocery store shelf or whip up a new one to completely change the taste of your meal.
Switch up how (or where) you eat it
I’m partial to eating meals out of bowls (I’m team mix-all-the-flavors) so switching between plates and bowls can make it feel like a new experience, after all there is a reason why putting small portions of multiple foods in an empty muffin tin works so well for kids- presentation is half the fun.
You can also switch up utensils- perhaps hand out chopsticks for the weekly stir fry instead of a fork. Also, location can make any meal more exciting. With beautiful weather starting to arrive, meals on the porch feel more special, but a picnic on the living room floor on movie night works well in mixing things up, too.
Around here you can pretty much count on there being a Mexican food night and a pizza night every week (here is my go-to dough), but by using these techniques, we never get sick of them. What are your best tips to add excitement to repetitive meals?