Have you tried meal planning?
It’s a great strategy for organising your food and eating, especially if your life is pretty hectic.
However, it won’t take long for you to get a little bored of eating the same meals on rotation – ask me how I know. As a meal planning newbie, I didn’t have the time to thumb through cookbooks or search the internet for new recipes nor did I have the patience to try them out. That didn’t leave me many options for increasing my recipe bank. However, there’s always a creative solution to every situation. And I’m about to share one creative approach to expanding your list of meal ideas.
In a nutshell, here it is; think about a meal you cook all the time or one of your favourite dishes. Then swap out the main ingredients for something different. Take one dish, make two variations. By changing just one ingredient, you’ve ended up with three dishes to add to your recipe bank.
Here are three dishes I’ve made countless times over the years, and the variations too.
1 | Lasagna
This classic Italian dish, has several prep steps which scared me in my early days of cooking. However, it really isn’t a complicated recipe and once I’d made it a few times, I didn’t need to look at my cookbook again. Once the supermarkets starting stocking butternut squash sheets, I knew they’d make a great alternative to traditional pasta lasagne sheets. The only change to your recipe I’d recommend is simply parboiling the squash before layering it in your oven dish as you would for regular pasta lasagne. Another option, is to use lentils in place of beef. I found this lentil version a little heavy and so if you do try this, serve smaller portions to start with.
2 | Frittata
I really like making these with leftover boiled or roasted potatoes. The basics of a frittata are potatoes and eggs. My only sticking point is having eggs to hand at the same time as leftover potatoes, but that’s been easy to solve now I organise my food shopping and meal prep with my trusty meal planner. First up, I tried making these using cauliflower as an alternative to the potato and would you believe it, it works just fine. With frittatas you can throw in all sorts of added vegetables and here’s where you can change things up. It all depends on what veggies you like, add in some broccoli, red peppers, peas, sweetcorn, the list is endless.
3 | Stir-fry
This is the quintessential quick meal, especially if you already have chopped vegetables ready to go. You can really go to town with as many or as few options as you like. Consider spring onions, red onions, bean sprouts, green beans, bell peppers and on and on. You can keep it a vegetarian stir-fry or switch up the protein you add, chicken, turkey or add fish – salmon works well.
So there you have it, a quick way to build up your recipe box without the need to resort to a single cookbook. What’s your favourite dinner dish? And how will you change it to increase your dinner choices? Let me know in the comments below.