3 Tips to Help You Stop Making the Same Thing for Dinner Every Night

After a year of dining in and staying home, your tastebuds are in need of some excitement. Here, learn how to explore and experiment with new flavors and ingredients.

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Many folks are becoming more adventurous in the kitchen — and this is the perfect time to do it, says Ali Webster, Ph.D., R.D.N., the director of research and nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council. "It's easy to get stuck in a rut and eat the same foods day in and day out, especially when we're at home so much," she says. "Breaking out of your menu routine can provide both tangible and intangible benefits to your physical and mental health — including eating a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and becoming more culturally sensitive by exploring some new cuisines."

With all those perks, it's no wonder that research from the IFIC shows 23 percent of Americans have experimented with different cuisines, ingredients, or flavors since the start of the pandemic, says Webster. If you're ready to bring some novelty and excitement to your dishes, try these creative ideas.

A woman cooking a meal at home
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Discover Secrets from Chefs Across the Globe

Learn how to make sushi with a chef in Japan, whip up empanadas with an Argentine expert, or create fresh pasta with two sisters in Italy with virtual cooking classes from Amazon Explore. The options are almost endless and start at just $10. For an experience that's personally tailored to your preferences, try CocuSocial for small-group interactive cooking classes with your friends via Zoom. You could have a Spanish paella party or learn to make street food like falafel.

Bring Something Different to Your Doorstep

Sign up for a community-supported agriculture program, or order a weekly produce box like the one from Misfits Market to get all kinds of vegetables and fruits you might not normally think of, like broccoli leaves, Anaheim peppers, Ataulfo mangoes, and watermelon radishes. "This makes cooking more fun and adventurous, and eating a rainbow of produce means you'll get all kinds of nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that will benefit your entire body," says Linda Shiue, M.D., a chef and the author of Spicebox Kitchen (Buy It, $26, amazon.com).

Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes

Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes
Amazon

Go Bold with Flavor

Add more excitement to your dishes with flavor boosters from around the world. An easy (and healthy) place to start is with spices. "They not only conjure exotic places but also have medicinal qualities," says Dr. Shiue. "Turmeric, which gives curry powders their vibrant color, is as potent an anti-inflammatory as ibuprofen and adds deep, earthy notes to food. Cumin, which brings dishes a richness and complexity, helps with digestion and is a source of iron."

In addition, try spice blends like garam masala to season vegetables, chicken, and meat; play with flavor-packed condiments, like ginger-garlic paste (add a spoonful to soups or marinades); and layer on fresh herbs, like cilantro, basil, and oregano, to make chutneys or dressings or to sprinkle over a fish dish, says Maneet Chauhan, a James Beard Award–winning chef in Nashville and the author of the new cookbook Chaat (Buy It, $23, amazon.com). (

Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India

Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India
Amazon
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