Last Call: How do you spice up your cooking routine?

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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

We’re now entering Month Five of quarantine. That means five months of eating at home. Five months of cooking. Five months of anything can get pretty old if you don’t change up your routine every now and again. Like this:


My own kung fu skills need some work, but I’ll bet after a lot of practice and another year of year of quarantine, I should have some parts of it down. (The getting hens to lay eggs on command is a really advanced skill that probably takes years and years to perfect.) In the meantime, I’ve been checking cookbooks out of the library and trying new recipes. I know, it’s way more boring.

What have you been doing to keep yourself from falling into a cooking rut?

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.


-Buy an ingredient you’ve never purchased before each trip to the grocery store and incorporate it into a dish.

-Shop at a grocery store you never shopped at before. This is an beefed up version of the suggestion above.

-Put Thai basil in all your stir-fry dishes.  Seriously.  Do it.  And don’t be stingy.  

-Let someone else determine what you cook for a single meal or an entire week of meals as NYT food offers dinner recipes for the entire week. I follow food52 and other other food-oriented accounts on Twitter and stash a couple of recipes that interest me each week.

-Prepare a staple food with another cooking method. I.e. if you always roast a whole chicken, change things up by poaching it

-Make soup. Every week I make a batch of soup. It’s never the same because I use whatever we have left in the ‘fridge at the end of a grocery run cycle.

-Experiment with sauces. We have a yogurt/dill/lemon juice sauce recipe that typically goes on top of salmon but we put on on beans and chicken this week and with tasted great.

-Instead thinking specific ingredients (i.e. chicken, potatoes, and broccoli) think categories (i.e. protein, starch, veg). That seems to inspire me to cook branch out from cooking the same ingredients in the same combos all the time.