Do you tend to stick with the same foods in each and every one of your meals? Swapping and mixing it up is a lot easier than you think, check out these 3 steps to do it.
BY: PAIGE FOOTE, RD
Are you guilty of preparing the same meals week after week?
If your answer is yes, that’s totally fine! It’s actually a great strategy for when you’re short on time and energy. You know exactly what to get at the grocery store, you know how long each meal will take to cook, and you know the recipe like the back of your hand.
The only trouble, of course, is that your taste buds may start to feel severely underwhelmed.
“Oh yay. Chicken, rice, and broccoli…again…”
You may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking, “I know my meals are repetitive, but I don’t have the time, energy, or creativity to try anything else so please stop trying to make me feel bad.”
Don’t worry, that’s not what this article is here to do. Instead, let’s help you add variety to the meals you are used to preparing, but with teeny tiny changes that will make a big difference.
The secret? Swapping just one or two ingredients that can be prepared similarly, have a similar nutrient profile, but provide all new flavors and textures to the meal.
You can do this easily with your starches, veggies, proteins, fats, spices, and other seasonings; all you need to start with is a list.
To get started and organized, here is a quick list of some easy ingredient swaps.
- Rice → Quinoa
- Pasta → Barley or Farro
- Sandwich Bread → Pita Wraps, Naan Bread, Lavash Bread
- Biscuits → Cornbread
- Flour tortilla → Corn Tortilla
- Corn → Peas
- White Potatoes → Sweet potatoes
- Carrots → Snap Peas or Snow Peas
- Broccoli → Cauliflower or Broccolini
- Tomatoes → Zucchini
- Asparagus → Green Beans
- Cucumber → Celery
- Brussels Sprouts → Parsnips
- Eggplant → Portobello Mushrooms or Zucchini
- “Spring” Salad Mix → Arugula
- Romaine Lettuce → Butter Lettuce or Spinach
- Kale → Collard Greens
- Chicken → Pork or Tofu
- Ground Meat → Black Beans
- Canned Tuna → Canned Salmon
- Beans → Lentils
- Tofu → Tempeh
- Steak → Ahi Tuna
- Hard-Boiled Eggs → Nuts
- Avocado → Hummus
- Olive Oil → Avocado Oil
- Butter → Ghee
- Nut Butter → Tahini
- Cheese → Nutritional Yeast
- Mayonnaise → Greek Yogurt
- Italian Seasoning → Lemon + Garlic
- Rosemary → Sage
- Lemon Juice → Orange or Lime Juice
- Cilantro → Parsley
- Basil → Mint
- Cumin → Chili Powder
- Ginger → Turmeric
6. DRESSINGS, MARINADES, & SAUCES
- Teriyaki → BBQ
- Chipotle → Sweet Chili
- Ranch → Honey Mustard
- Thai Peanut → Coconut Curry
- Balsamic Vinaigrette → Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Hummus → Tzatziki
- Marinara → Pesto
- Salsa → Pico de Gallo
Now that you know some of the main players, let’s see what we can do with that chicken, rice, and broccoli example. Some ways you can easily mix things up without sacrificing extra time or energy are:
- Swap the chicken with tofu or pork.
- Swap the rice with quinoa.
- If you normally season the chicken with Italian seasonings, go for a squeeze of lemon and some zesty garlic!
By picking a staple meal that you think needs a little more variety and writing down three ways to mix it up, you can easily plan out meals for each day of the week. Keep a running list of your ingredients, and continue to add to it as you find new foods and flavors you love.
Give it a try, and make mealtime decisions easy and exciting again.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: ROOSA KULJU
Paige Foote, RD is a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian with passion for encouraging others to feel positive about themselves and the food on their plate. She loves to help others feel like they are capable of anything by sharing why eating well doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. Learn more about Paige at Yeah Girl! Nutrition.