food and recipe magazines

The One in Which I’ve Lost My Groove

Written by Katie of GoodLife Eats.

I’m going to tell you a little secret. When I saw that this month’s Simple Bites theme was organization and productivity in the kitchen I kind of cringed a little. Because I’m so not feeling organized in my kitchen or productive right now.

I procrastinated and procrastinated submitting my post topic until Aimee and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Aimee: Just a quick reminder…I kinda need a topic from you for your next SB post!

Katie: I’m sorry! I have been trying to think of something….I’ll let you know tomorrow. I am just not feeling very organized or productive in the kitchen at the moment.

Aimee: So write about it. No, for real. How are you coping? Pushing through?

Katie: More like feeling sorry for myself.

Aimee: Hey we’ve all been there. And I think this end-of-winter, cusp of spring really triggers it.

[lightbulb moment happens and I think “oh. duh.”]

The last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling like I’ve totally lost my groove in the kitchen. But instead of doing something about it I’ve been doing nothing.

It’s been a busy month. We had spring break and that was….fun. Or not. My kids don’t quite appreciate being off from school for a week yet. Eric was out of town for work. Then really sick two weekends in a row.

Ever since then things have been a little off here. The weather is nasty. Crazy windy. Bad allergies which make me feel like I’m half asleep all day long. A couple of failed recipes. Yes, failed recipes and that never does much for self confidence.

Instead of doing nothing, I should be following my own advice.

Find Some Inspiration

recipe binder

Photo by GoodLife Eats

  • Browse Foodgawker.
  • Check out Meal Plan Monday.
  • Buy a new recipe magazine, preferably one with lots of pictures.
  • Revisit an old favorite. Something that’s proven to be a success with your family.
  • Flip through a cookbook you haven’t looked at in a while or check something out at the library.
  • Look up one of your favorite ingredients, something in the fridge, or an ingredient you’ve been meaning to try in The Flavor Bible.
  • Find the menu for your favorite restaurant. See if you can recreate a dish at home. (Or even make it better!)

Organize Other Areas in Your Home

When the rest of my life is feeling a bit unorganized my cooking suffers too. Nothing puts a damper on my creativity for me like piles of laundry, a toy strewn living room, or a cluttered pantry.

organized simplicity simple mom

Photo by Tsh

Freshening up other areas of my daily life does wonders to my creativity in the kitchen. Tsh’s book Organized Simplicity is great resource if you aren’t sure where to get started. She’s also posted about a reader challenge: Art of Simple’s Project Simplify.

Make a Meal Plan – And Stick to It!

Sometimes the pressure of 5 pm coming just around the corner is enough to slap me into gear, other times I shut down when I don’t have a plan and dinner is quickly approaching. It’s those times that I freeze, procrastinate, and we end up eating something rather boring instead.

menu planner

Photo by Kate

When I’m doing well in the kitchen it’s because I’ve planned out our week of meals before the new week starts, let’s say Saturday, and done the grocery shopping. I map the week out on the calendar based on what recipes will work best time-wise for which days and what days of the week we’d benefit by eating leftovers.

Keep a Well Stocked Pantry

And there’s nothing more discouraging than trying to make dinner when you don’t have the ingredients you need or want. Sometimes when I’m not inspired I realize that it’s because I’m running low or out of several of my favorite pantry ingredients.

well stocked pantry

Photo by Schwartz and Architecture

But if I have a well stocked pantry I’m often able to throw delicious recipes together without thinking about it. In the past some of our favorite family meals have come from pantry items combined with the pressure of the clock ticking it’s way towards 5 pm.

For some pantry stocking ideas check out:

Give Yourself a Break from the Kitchen

Maybe you’ve just been working a little bit too hard lately. It’s okay to admit that you need a break.

I took off two whole weeks from blogging, food photography, and any new recipe development at the end of last year. When January hit I was ready to get back to it. A breath of fresh air might be all you need.

Is there another family member who could cook instead? Or a friend who’s offered a helping hand? Don’t be afraid to take them up on the offer. Consider serving a few Non-Suppers once in a while to avoid burnout.

tomato florentine soup

Photo by GoodLife Eats

Recipes for Getting your Groove Back

Start with something not-so-complicated or easily adaptable as you ease back into your happy place. But make sure that it has flavors you and your family will love. May I suggest one of these?

What do you do to get out of a cooking rut?

About Katie G

Katie’s lifelong interest in food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. Katie Goodman is the cook, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer behind GoodLife Eats. It is there that she shares what she finds good in the kitchen and in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week.

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  1. I feel like this post was written just for me. I’ve been in a rut lately and a schedule has truly been helping me out. I’m starting to think about taking a much needed break of rest. One thing is for sure, Aimee is such a great editor! She definitely helped me out on my last post as well. What a blessing she is 😀 Thanks Katie, I needed this.

  2. I am right there with you, along with trying to diet and not make the rest of my family suffer through it with me. I sometimes end up making two meals (which I don’t like).

    And where oh where did you find that cool worksheet for menu planning/grocery listing?

    • Robin – here is where I got the planner sheet from: DIY Grocery Planner. I also just purchased this one: Menu Planner/Grocery List combo notebook and received it the other day. It looks great and I love having it all in a notebook vs. single sheets that can get lost. It’s also helpful because you can look back at previous weeks/months for inspiration.

      • Robin – a ‘diet’ shouldn’t be painful. In shopping, cooking or eating. You can make healthful changes to your entire family’s eating habit without ‘making them suffer with you’. If you are on a detox or an elimination diet, there are modifications you can make so it may be more palatable for them, but you shouldn’t need or have to make separate meals. It can also help them to become better versed in the true ingredients of food, giving them the knowledge to make better choices for themselves when they are old enough.

  3. Totally been there and go there all the time. Sometimes, I just have to remember that a meal is a meal and it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy… it just has to nourish my family. Cooking without the blog in mind is how I get my groove back!

  4. This also happens to me. Actually often my inspiration is to go to a farmer’s market and start walking around, looking at all of the produce, not allowing myself to buy anything until I see it all, them check it all over again and this time using the smelling senses and allow them to choose what the next future meals will be. I DO love all your Kitchen and pantry organization tips. As we are about to redo our kitchen, I will surely come back to follow some of these tricks! THANKS!

  5. Thanks for this post. It’s exactly what I needed! I have been so busy w/ work & home life has been hectic as well. Finally we’re off for a week of Spring break! I’m also doing Easter. I’m an organizer, a planner, & I like to plan ahead. I have to say that preplanning the week’s meals is really what helps me. I shop 1x a week, get what I need & then when I get home from work- there’s no “what’s for dinner?” question – I already know!! I found a little notepad that lists the week’s dinner plans. My DH & I plan on Saturdays together & I shop for what we need. I try to make a bigger meals on the weekend to help out during the week as well. Thanks for reminding me about what works!! Loving Tsh’s book too- reading it on my Nook! Happy cooking everyone!!

  6. I heart the grocery list worksheet! Did you make that yourself or purchase it from somewhere?

    And I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Foodgawker! I’ll be there all day! (I’m in serious need of some inspiration!)

    • Amanda, we *heart* Foodgawker. It’s like crack! It’s so fun to watch the seasons change on their homepage. Right now it’s all Easter treats, soon asparagus and rhubarb dishes will be splashed all over the pages. Fun!

    • Amanda here’s the info on the grocery sheet:

      I got the planner sheet from: DIY Grocery Planner. I also just purchased this one: Menu Planner/Grocery List combo notebook and received it the other day. It looks great and I love having it all in a notebook vs. single sheets that can get lost. It’s also helpful because you can look back at previous weeks/months for inspiration.

  7. Oh I loved this. I pretty much don’t even want to be in my kitchen right now. Recipe testing is a real kill joy when it comes to my normal enthusiasm in the kitchen.

    Plus, ahem, I am kind of avoiding emailing Aimee about my next post topic too because I’ve got nothing.

  8. It’s great to remind ourselves of this sort of thing all the time, so we can stay in track. PS I love the first photo – such a cure kitchen?

  9. Hmm, well after I get completely sick of eating crap (e.g. takeout, going out to dinner, etc.), then I start to look through all of my cookbooks until I find something interesting to make and go from there. It’s probably not the best method and I could probably try to find a way to skip the out-of-home food step…

  10. I LOVE this, Katie! I feel like I have been in such a rut lately — the same 5 recipes, finger foods or salad when I don’t feel like doing anything else… You’ve given me a much-needed kick in the derriere. Thanks!

  11. I love love love that design*sponge menu planner. We have a copy that is in permanent marker on a whiteboard on the side of the fridge and when it’s time to shop I just move my list over to whatever piece of paper I’m using for a grocery list that week (usually the back of junk mail envelopes.)

    Having that list in a central place means my husband can easily see what meals we have the things for. The one down side to real food is that he tends to say, “but all we have is ingredients!” This helps him to see, “we’re having burgers I could slice some tomatoes” etc. It also gives him a place to jot down things he needs on my errand day instead of just telling me. It is everyone’s responsibility in my house to write specific things they need on that list! Otherwise you’re on your own when it comes to having it!!

  12. to get out of a cooking rut, i pursue the grocery store when shopping for new and different ingredients that may inspire me. or i read cooking blogs/magazines for new recipe ideas.

    great blog – glad i stopped by today.
    til next time,

  13. Wow, what a beautiful post! The pictures are so inspiring – and seriously, don’t we all need inspiration occasionally?

    You are absolutely right about organization being key – the weeks I meal plan and shop appropriately are definitely the triumphant, no-take-out-and-good-food weeks 🙂

  14. Great ideas, when things get out of hand I tend to shut down, which just makes the problem worse. Then something will come up where people are coming over (aka Easter) and I end up spending a whole day getting the kitchen (and house) ready. It would be so much simpler if I could just keep up with it a little every day. Thanks for the great ideas.

  15. Thanks for the honest post.

    I’m home with by 8 week old son and have been eating too much take out lately. There are a couple of things I find helpful when I get in a rut like this. One is reminding myself that dinner doesn’t have to be fancy (black bean quesadillas or tuna melts will do). The other is to do all my prep (washing, chopping, grating) the evening before while my husband is home. I’m going to try stocking my pantry and doing more regular meal planning as you’ve suggested.

    Thanks again!

  16. I lost my groove when I got pregnant. I couldn’t stand the smell of cooking, I had to live off of others cooking or take out for months. I thought it would come back when the baby was born but I still had no desire to reconnect with my kitchen and I loved cooking! It took months but I found my groove again. It took a budget challenge, my daughter starting on solids and a few beautiful cookbooks and I found my groove again.

  17. Great post! I’m feeling a bit out of my groove as well. This has inspired me to get back to menu planning. It’s a huge help.

  18. Heather Anderson says

    Oh, how I can relate to this post. I am usually a good planner and well organized, but I find myself totally out of my groove right now. You are so right though, I can do something about it by finding new inspiration. Often just taking the first steps to get back on track is enough to get me moving again. Thanks.

  19. I love The Flavor Bible! And I love meal planning on Plan to Eat because I can see other members shared recipes and get good ideas!

  20. Fun ideas. Thanks!

  21. This is such a great post; I will definitely be referring to it the next time I lose my kitchen mojo. I especially love the ideas for finding inspiration!

  22. All such wonderful suggestions. I find life a lot more pleasing when I am well organized.

  23. Great tips! I’m feeling the end of winter blah’s and being organized just washes all of those yucky blah’s away!

  24. I just loved reading this post, Katie… Love your honesty! I have definitely been in a rut lately in the kitchen, too. I will be taking some of your advice 🙂

  25. Super job Katie… this post really spoke to me! Thanks for all the great tips and inspiration!

  26. Is everything going through this? I have been wandering aimlessly, not knowing how to plan a good week’s meals anymore. I used to be good at this but lately it’s been blah. Thanks for the great ideas and links. I’m digging my heals in and am going to conquer this thing.

    Think I’ll go organize a drawer or something. It always makes me feel better! 🙂

  27. Wonderful post! It’s spring break and I am on a diet but I’m at home so I cook for my parents. Sometimes they don’t like my menu because it is diet meals. I think this has inspired me not only to cook but also to clean up our cupboards and refill the pantry and just go crazy with planning meals. I’m ecstatic now!

  28. Great post, Katie! I lose my groove a lot, so hopefully these smart and helpful tips will help push me through my next rut!

  29. Just echoing the other posts that this is great timing! I’ve had 4 days in a row of NOTHING tasting good that I cook, I’m tired of cold weather food, and want some sunshine and summer produce…. the whining could go on but it has to stop sometime! Thanks for brining the inspiration!

  30. Maggie @ Maggie's Nest says

    Oh, I SO needed this post today! Thank you for writing about not doing it “perfectly”, it is so helpful. The pictures alone have inspired me to think about how I want to organize the kitchen after our remodel, and your ideas give me great ways to break it down into manageable chunks. Thank you!

  31. I cooked for years when my family was growing up. They weren’t necessarily the best meals, but I was in the habit of always cooking. Now my kids are grown, and even though the 2 younger still live here, they are rarely home (they are 18 and 20 and both in school and working). Now I am trying to cook creative more healthy flavoful meals for hubby and I and my minds just draws a blank. I keep coming back to some of the same few dishes. I appreciate some of the ideas you gave!
    Oh, and I am guessing that the picture at the top is not your kitchen? My hubby would love to do this to ours!

  32. Thanks for posting! I was pretty sure you were speaking directly to me. Thanks for the fantastic ideas and for letting me know that I am not alone!

  33. When I’m tired and out of my own inspiration, I put it out to the rest of the family. I ask them what they’re hungry for, and it all seems to come together. Great post!

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