If you’re not a natural chef, it’s easy for dinner time to become a chore when you first start cooking for yourself after a lifetime of meals that someone else prepared. Not only is this a shame—food is one of the best parts of life!—it potentially hazardous to your health (pizza for dinner four nights in a row?!) and your wallet (ordering takeout every night for a week?!). Fortunately, there are some easy ways to keep you mealtime from getting stale (pun intended!)
Have a weekly New Recipe night
Each week, I pick one (simple!) recipe to try for dinner or dessert, either from the cookbook my mom sent me, or from one of those enticing cooking GIFs that show up on my Facebook feed. This is a fun way to experiment with cooking, get to know your kitchen, and try new things! (Just make sure you always have a pizza in the freezer in case of epic failure!)
Have a potluck
Invite some friends over for dinner with the rule that everyone has to bring something. Whether you end up with a table full of home-cooked dishes or a whole bunch of takeout, it’s a great way to add some variety to your kitchen. If you’re lucky, there will be plenty of leftovers to keep your next couple meals interesting. Don’t forget to have some plastic wrap ready, though, because your guests might want some leftovers, too.
Make your own “Menu”
Now, when I say “menu,” what I really mean is a “Possible Meal List” (but “menu” just sounds a lot fancier). My biggest problem when it comes to meals is actually just remembering what foods exist. I’ve gone days eating nothing but fried rice, mac and cheese, and PB&Js purely because I couldn’t think of anything else I might like to eat. My solution to this was to make a list of every meal I enjoy that I could think of, no matter how simple or seemingly obvious, from grilled cheese, to homemade pizza, to mushroom quiche. Now, if I’m not sure what to have for dinner, I have a whole “menu” of choices. (I also use this to plan out my meals before grocery shopping. After each meal on the list, I write out the ingredients it requires so I can easily add it to my grocery list and I don’t have to run back to the store later in the week to get the ingredients I forgot).
See these posts for more tips on finding new recipes to try: