Sometimes, Boring is Better

I have settled into a very boring summer cooking routine, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

For dinners this summer, my family has been eating grilled meat or fish, a green vegetable, and a colorful (often raw) vegetable.  That’s all there is to it, and it couldn’t be easier.

For years, I thought “routine” was a bad word, especially in the kitchen.  I thought “routine” equaled “boring” and “monotonous.”  But I’ve found that “routine” can also bring ease and contentment, as Mark Sisson discusses in his excellent post over at Mark’s Daily Apple.  Mark talks about his own “monotonous” diet, and how he eats the same stuff not because he’s bored, but because he’s content with his choices.  Thanks, Mark–I feel vindicated!

My own meat-and-two-veggies guideline allows for lots of flexibility, and having the mealtime structure in place has freed up tons of time and energy I can devote to other things during a busy season.  You don’t need to be a seasoned cook to pull this off; you don’t even need a cookbook!

Grocery shopping is super simple–I can even do a pretty good job winging it with no list.  I know that for a week’s worth of dinners, I need to buy 5 meals’ worth of protein and 10 family-size portions of vegetables.  It’s that easy.

A “boring” meal plan works especially well if you’re accommodating special diets like we are, because you don’t have to continually scrutinize your menu items and adapt recipes on the fly.

In practice, I’m not finding my boring meal plan to be boring at all.  Boring is bad.  I’m not bored; I’m very content with my food choices.  And food contentment is a wonderful thing.

Especially when it’s this easy:

Monday: Grilled flank steak, grilled vegetables, swiss chard

Tuesday: Grilled pork tenderloin with lemon zest-thyme marinade, grilled green beans, chopped salad with citrus dressing

Wednesday: Easy grilled salmon, grilled asparagus, crudité platter

Thursday: Grilled five-spice chicken thighs with soy-vinegar sauce and cilantro, steamed broccoli, fruit salad with lime

Friday: Hamburgers, cucumber salad, wilted spinach salad


Do you always eat the same thing?  What foods are in your regular mealtime lineup?

photo credit:  Ferenc Ungor

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  1. Katrina says:

    I like the idea of routine, but flexibility is the key for me. I tend to get in ruts, eating exactly the same thing, over and over. No can do. 🙂

  2. Ana F. says:

    I agree with you and I think routine is good when it comes to menu planning. I always try to have some protein + a little bit of carbs + lots of veggies. When we want to lose weight, we cut the carbs at night. And we always have rice and beans, since this is a half Brazilian family 🙂

    Ana @ My (Newly)Wed Life

  3. Katie says:

    I have used the grill a lot this year because my hubby has been coming home late from work and then it does not take long to cook up some yummy meat of some kind. I have not found a great and reliable way to grill veggies. Does anybody have suggestions? We have tried top wrap it in tin foil, but end up either underdone, or burnt. HELP! Otherwise I love the grill and fresh garden veggies.

  4. Julie says:

    My mother-in-law has a very limited repertoire when it comes to cooking, yet she is one of the best cooks I know! I love going to her place for dinner. She almost always serves meat and vegetables of some description, but she has perfected the art of cooking the meat until wonderfully tender, and the vegetables always have just the right amount of “crunch”. Sometimes simple is definitely better.

  5. Liz@learninglifewithliz says:

    I can’t wait to get a grill! I would be grilling every night too! It tastes so much better and it doesn’t heat up the house. Good idea. 🙂

  6. Whitney says:

    That sounds like a great plan! I typically stick to three items on the plate as well. We do a protein, vegetable and grain. If you’re looking for more, then have an extra helping of what’s there! Since starting menu planning, I’ve kept all my previous menus. The same time next year I just pull out the corresponding menu, make a few tweeks, and we’re good to go! I’m all about keeping things simple so that they may remain joyful. Thanks for the post!

  7. Alicia says:

    I just finished reading a book about wellness and couldn’t help but notice that you have healthy dark greens on your menu all week! That is very healthy and something I really want to add into our eating routine!

  8. April says:

    Yum, sounds fabulous! I love simple meals during the summer. Your different grilled meats sound wonderful as well as all of your veggie sides!!

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