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In a cooking rut? Get some recipe inspiration

02 August 2016 ( 10 May 2017 )

Cooking the same thing day in, day out? Read our tips for getting out of the cooking rut and finding some recipe inspiration.

Cooking using a recipe on a tablet
With so many wonderful recipes available you should never get bored

Travel with your taste buds

Do you have fond memories of a holiday, or are you planning your next big adventure? Get yourself a cookbook (libraries often have good cookery sections if you don’t want to buy one) or go online to find the culinary favourites of that region. Always wanted to visit India? There’s more to Indian food than a chicken korma, for example – try bhel puri, the classic Indian street food, or mix in some Indian spices to some roast vegetables. Reminiscing about your honeymoon in Sicily? Try this recipe for roast lamb with Sicilian relish.

Visit our food section for recipes from all over the world, including Italy, the Middle East, Mexico, France, India, Asia, Spain and more.

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Pick a star ingredient

Have something you love but always do the same thing with it? Find out how else you can prepare it – you might be surprised by how versatile it is. Whether it’s turning your favourite salmon into a quiche or using chicken breasts with a Japanese-style glaze you are bound to come across something you like.

Sometimes the star ingredient isn’t even as immediately obvious as chicken or salmon – humble vegetable sides can be transformed by cooking them a different way. Why boil cauliflower when you could roast it and get so much flavour from it?

Get it delivered

This might sound like cheating but when you lead a busy life a delivery service can really take the pressure off. We’re not talking Chinese takeaways here (well, okay, sometimes that’s good too!) we’re talking cooking kits delivered straight to your door. 

There are lots of these services around now so pick one that suits you and sign up for their trial offer. These services can vary. Some, such as Gousto, will come with all the ingredients you need in the quantities you need - that's ideal for trying out some unusual flavours without having a huge bottle or jar of something exotic to use up, and there's no risk of getting halfway through a recipe only to find you have forgotten to pick up a certain key ingredient. 

Other services, such as SimplyCook, will come with a range of delicious ingredients such as spice mixes, cooking pastes and sauces with recipe cards so all you need to do is add some basic store cupboard essentials and some fresh ingredients and you can have a restaurant quality feast in your own home without even having to give it much thought. This might suit someone who who tends to stray from written recipes and swap out ingredients for something else.

Save money on trial offers

If you do decide to try a recipe delivery service be sure to look for trial offers that are available. Saga Magazine has teamed up with Gousto to give Saga readers a chance to try their service at a reduced rate.

Order a Gousto meal box and get enough ingredients for three fantastic meals of your choice for two people for just £9.99 - that's a saving of £25. 

Ask around

Had something delicious at a friend’s house? Ask for the recipe – chances are they’ll be flattered that you enjoyed it so much and will happily provide it for you. Take to social media and ask Facebook friends or Twitter followers what their favourite recipes are and you might find some tried and tested meal ideas.

Ask your butcher or fishmonger for ideas about serving certain cuts of meat or fish, or whether they have recommendations for something new for you to try – you might be surprised just how keen people are to share their tips.

Go online for recipe inspiration

The internet is absolutely full of great cooking ideas – so much so that it can be a little overwhelming! It’s easy to find something on Google when you know exactly what you want, but what if you just fancy browsing?

The key is to find some sources of recipes you like and follow them through newsletters, Facebook, Instagram and more. Saga features lots of recipes in our food section and you can sign up for our Home & Garden newsletter or follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with them. Pinterest's food and drink section can also be a great source of inspiration – but be warned that many of the recipes featured are international so measurements and ingredients may need to be converted. 

Your favourite TV chefs are probably active on social media too so find and follow them to always be kept in the loop about their latest recipes.

Limit your options

This might sound like contradictory advice, but sometimes a few limitations can force us to be creative. Tired of the same spag bol or meat and two veg every day? Why not try limiting your diet – for example, give meat-free Monday a go and try cooking some vegetarian or vegan dishes, or have a day where you only eat raw foods. You might find yourself cooking something you wouldn’t normally have thought of and who knows, maybe you will find a new favourite? If you really want a challenge you could sign up for the 30 Day Vegan Pledge.

Try these ten easy vegan meals to get you started

Mix it up

It’s a familiar story – you love spicy food, he hates it. He loves garlic, you can’t stand it. When we’re cohabitating we often end up making compromises, but there are ways to let you both eat the foods you enjoy.

Many meals keep very well in the fridge – and some even taste a little better after the flavours have had time to develop, so you could prepare two different curries, for example, and each have your own and keep the rest in the fridge for a couple of days later. It might be twice the amount of cooking on the first day but at least you have a homemade ready meal the next time you have it. 

Or you could go for a tapas or meze style and prepare several small but simple dishes, some of which include the ingredients you love and your other half hates – invite some friends over and get them to bring a few small dishes of their own and you have the makings of a very fun dinner party.

Ready Steady Cook-it

Inventive chefs can give themselves a Ready Steady Cook-style challenge. Simply gather together a selection of ingredients (raid the clearance section or pick out some seasonal vegetables, for example) and set yourself a time limit. Try to avoid cooking something you’ve already done before and instead cook something new and different. You could even make a competitive game out of it with your partner if you each choose each other's ingredients on alternating days.

When you’re being inventive in the kitchen remember to record your successes (and your failures!) for future reference. A notebook and pen within easy reach is a must.

Go to cookery school

Finally, if all else fails and you feel like you have reached the end of your cooking journey, it might be time to go back to school. Cookery schools are ideal for accomplished home chefs who want to go the extra distance and learn new skills from professional chefs. 

Prices and length of time can vary – everything from an evening class on chocolate making to a full-time course to jump start a new career are available so you're bound to find something to suit your needs.

Find out about some of the food and drink courses available

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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