articles / Frugal living

Sometimes variety requires creativity

Since I’ve been married and cooking all of my meals on my own, I’ve discovered that it’s easy to get into a cooking rut.

When I first got married Jimmi and I would eat some variety of spiced baked chicken, macaroni or mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. Periodically I’d makIMG_3209e meatloaf of maybe spaghetti, but when you’re newly married and broke (I was still in college), you’re limited on your resources.

Finally one day Jimmi told me that I’d better find something different to make. So, I started searching cook books and have since then drastically expanded my cooking horizon. Funny enough, I still end up in a rut. There are about five or six things that I’ll make for a few weeks and then rotate. It’s like my brain won’t plan meals out where we don’t eat the same thing more than once or twice a month. Honestly, it’s just easy to do the same things. My grocery list stays the same, I know exactly how much I’m going to spend, and how much time it’s going to take. But, the thing is, we have to have variety. That is especially important with a 4-year-old developing his palate.

Since we’ve started the gluten-free thing, I’ve discovered that it’s easier than ever before to get in that same rut. Why? Because in the beginning you’re slowly learning how to make things. You’re experimenting and when you’re on a budget, experimenting with recipes that might not result in anything edible is out of the question. You resort to the familiar.

This is when you have to get creative. You have think about the skills you’ve acquired so far and blend them together to make new things. For example, when I was having problems making a gluten-free pizza crust I liked, I decided to add spices to my gluten-free tortillas, make them a little bit thicker and call it personal pan pizza crust. It worked fantastically. I still haven’t made a GF pizza crust.

Last week I was trying to think of something different that we hadn’t had, but that I could make with what I already had. Then I came up with the brilliant idea of the pizza pasta. Yes, pizza pasta. It’s so simple yet is different.

Basically I cooked my noodles and poured them into a casserole pan. Then I poured my pizza/spaghetti sauce (aside from tweaking the seasonings a little they’re basically the same) on top. I added hamburger meat and pepperoni and topped it with cheese. I put it into the oven (375 degrees)  until the cheese melted.

It was actually really good. The sauce baked into the noodles so the noodles were flavorful. I’m not saying that this is going to become one of my “rut” meals, but it was definitely nice to have something different. It wasn’t pizza and it wasn’t the same old spaghetti.

I know the pizza pasta isn’t original, but the moral of the story is to take your favorite meals and try to put a new twist on them to add variety.

–Erica

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One thought on “Sometimes variety requires creativity

  1. Pingback: Meal planning: Getting the most out of your $ | Be Organic and Healthy

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