how to vary your meals

How to Vary Simple Meals

Sometimes getting dinner on the table, night after night, feels like an endless task. Also, unfortunately, a thankless one. Worst of all, a boring one. Sometimes it feels like you’re eating the same meal every night, unless you give up on cooking and have unsatisfying fast food. However, you can solve this dilemma! With a little easy meal planning and a few staples on hand, you can enjoy varied yet simple meals every night! We’ve provided a few ideas and tips on simple meal planning to help you keep dinnertime from falling into a rut. 


Get To Know a Few Simple Meals

The first step in easy meal planning is having options. The more recipes you know by heart, the more options you have. As we’ll discuss later in this article, you can mix and match aspects of recipes to combine them into new dishes. However, first you have to know them. Read cookbooks and make note of what sounds tasty, and cooking blogs for fresher, quickly updated takes on cooking how-tos. Spend a weekend afternoon or two cooking a few dishes. The more you know, the more you can do. 


Simple Meal Planning: Variations on Similar Ingredients.

Once you understand your recipes, you can modify them. For example, you can swap in different ingredients for different effects. Take our recipe for grilled broccolini. Long slender vegetables cook well this method. Therefore, you can switch in green beans, and add a handful of sliced almonds, a classic partner. Or you can swap in asparagus to serve with something rich yet light, such as duck breast or salmon. You can incorporate these swaps into your easy meal planning, or you can do them on the fly if you’re shopping and find something that looks particularly good. 


Easy Meal Planning: Use Those Condiments

Condiments are probably the easiest way to vary simple meals. Chicken with broccoli and caramelized onions is very different than chicken with swiss chard and shallot vinaigrette. Furthermore you can have lots of fun experimenting with making your own condiments. Caramelize a pile of onions, mix up jars of vinaigrettes and relishes, even make homemade ketchup to your liking. Then you’ll have delicious variations at your fingertips to liven up your weeknight dinners!


Delicious Meal Planning: Vary Using Temperature

Serving temperature is an important and often overlooked way to vary meals. Ramen-style noodles can be served hot with sliced meat and cooked vegetables. In contrast, they can be served chilled, with the same meat shredded and the same vegetables thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks. Two one-bowl meals with the same main ingredients, which taste entirely different due to being served at different temperatures. The possibilities are endless!


Basic Meal Planning: Cook Ahead of Time

The best tool for easy meal planning, for simple meal planning, for quick and simple meals, is a stash of already-cooked ingredients. Meals can be made straight from the fridge and served cold, or gently rewarmed in multiple ways. Furthermore, cooking food ‘re-sets the clock’ on it. Vegetables that were starting to wilt can hold for several more days once they’ve been blanched.  Roasting meat kills off any pathogens and lets it stay fresh days longer. Of course, store your cooked food properly to prevent cross-contamination!


We hope these tips and suggestions will make for easy meal planning and deliciously diverse dinners. Transform simple meals into everyday feasts by combining these techniques. The variations will quickly multiply into endless possibilities!



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