Dishing up food resolutions for 2024

By Jenni Wolf

Motivation is often high in the month of January.

Maybe it’s all the resolution talk, the readiness to get back to some structure and routine after what can feel like a chaotic holiday stretch or perhaps just the start of a fresh year.

Whatever it is, I say let’s lean into it!

A very common topic for my clients during this time of year is the desire to change up what they are cooking at home for dinner. It can be easy to fall into the ’ho-hum’ routine of tacos, spaghetti and other easy dinner repeats. That can feel boring and lead to more unplanned, less-balanced meals and more eating out.

So, if you are feeling motivated to change up your dinnertime routine, read on below for tips to get some fresh and tasty meals on the table for 2024.!

First, be realistic. I know I’ve shared this tip before, but I am sharing it again because it is so important! We want habits and changes to stick, so slow and steady is the way to go.

Be realistic about your family’s needs — does it make sense to try one new meal each week? Two or three? Think through how many nights you are eating dinner at home and what is best for your family’s schedule.

Try a new recipe source. The web is filled with new recipe ideas, to me almost an overwhelming amount, so sometimes I find it helpful to look elsewhere. Ask a friend to share their favorite evening meals, subscribe to a new magazine, snag a restaurant take-out menu to make “copy-cat” dishes at home or check out some cookbooks from a public library  —  I think the St. Anthony Park branch has the best selection.

Keep a notebook of recipes you’d like to try or snap a photo so you can easily refer back to the recipe while cooking.

Get the family involved. If you have others at home, ask them to select a recipe each week. This takes some of the pressure and mental load off you, invites new flavors and combinations to the table that you might not think to pick and can help get others interested in cooking. It also helps to create balance by supporting a wider variety of food at mealtimes coming from different sources of input.

Take inventory. Check out what is languishing in the back of your pantry or freezer. Make note of these items and use them as a starting point to plan a new meal. Talk about efficiency—you’ll be enjoying a new meal idea while also preventing food waste. Have a box of bread crumbs hiding on the top shelf from last year? Let that inspire a new baked pasta dish with a crunchy, crispy top. Have an old loaf of bread in the freezer? Make a baked French toast casserole — everyone loves breakfast for dinner!

If you’ve cleaned out your backstock, it’s time to take a slow stroll through the grocery store. I often encourage my clients to browse the grocery store when they are not in a rush, do not have kids in tow and do not have to pick up a full week’s worth of food. I call it a “grocery field trip” where the purpose is to explore a new store, aisle or just a new item on the shelf.

When you give yourself time and are more relaxed (i.e., not trying to cross off a 30-item grocery list in a crowded store on a Sunday), you are more likely to discover something new and feel inspired to try including it in a meal at home. This will make it easier to change things up. When I can, I like to stroll smaller stores (like Tim & Tom’s Speedy Market!) that may offer a different selection of ingredients and items from those in my typical Cub or Aldi. Again, it helps to beat boredom.

We’ve got a lot of dinners to eat in 2024 — 365 to be exact! Which tip are you going to try first?

Here’s to happy cooking and feeling excited about dinnertime again in 2024! 

Jenni Wolf, a registered dietitian, writes about food and nutrition for the Bugle.

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