Ruts and Nuts – What to do when a food rut drives you nuts!


I’m the type of person that orders the exact same food at a restaurant.  I find something, I stick with it, and if the menu changes before I’m ready to break up with that food, well… let’s just say that there’s some pouting that occurs.

In the same breath, I’m the person that will eat something for six months repeatedly for breakfast (oatmeal!) and one day decide that I need a break. A hiatus can last a month or a year, depending on my mood. And hey, if it were up to me, CHEESE would be considered a daily meal.  I’d eat it regularly, or at least until I got bored. (But I don’t think that’s possible.)

I'll take the cheese buffet, please.

I’ll take the cheese buffet, please.

Yes, I’m quite the emotional eater. You can preach to me all that you want that “food to fuel” and rationally, I know that. But I also know that I want what I want, when I want it and that makes meal planning a bit of a challenge.

However, financially, I realize that meal planning is much more – oh, what’s the word? – smart.  So rather than leading solely with my gastronomical whims, I try to incorporate those while eating fairly healthy, and following my grocery store’s sales and ads for the week.


Not exactly easy but I’ve gotten a lot better at it than I was a couple of years back.  Trust me.

And yet, occasionally, I fall into a food rut.  It’s not that I don’t have plenty of recipes, because I do. It’s challenging at the moment because we’ve got Track & Field practice (for Pooks) three times each week. And if we’re not there, we attend a variety of other meetings (PTO, scouts, etc).  When we aren’t at one of those places, my husband has to work late.

You get the point. Maybe it’s not so much a “rut” but more just not being in the same place at the same time. But it leads to take-out and late meals. Neither option feels particularly healthy to me.

When I attended the Tinkerbell Half Meetup in January, I was fortunate enough to meet Tara Gidus and bend her ear while running.


Thankfully, she was very open to the idea of keeping in contact (props to runDisney for choosing such an approachable dietician!) When I reached out to her, she offered some great tips to share with you:

  • Plan ahead! Look at your calendar. If you have meetings after work or your kid’s baseball practice to attend, but don’t want to sacrifice good nutrition and eating at home, we have to make planning a priority. Build your weeknight menu before you go to the grocery store.
  • Look at your track record. If you know you won’t have more than 10 minutes to get food on the table before you give in to takeout, do what you can to ensure success. Prep veggies on the weekend, incorporate slow cooker meals, make ahead meals like casseroles and chili or veggie soup, and always have quick and easy menu items on hand for last minute prep.
  • Keep quick meal ideas and ingredients in the house. I always have certain things on hand: spaghetti and marinara sauce, grilled cheese and tomato soup, egg sandwiches or omelettes, rotisserie chicken, minute rice for burrito bowls, frozen vegetables and entrees like Kashi pizzas, Bertolli family dinners, and Amy’s meals. Look at the nutrition facts on packaging to make sure each product is not too high in saturated fat or sodium, but typically these meals will be healthier and less expensive than eating out.

Love these ideas and have already started incorporating them into our active evenings.

Not every evening is going to be a five star dinner but with a bit of preparation and planning, I’m trying my darnedest to make the best of our crazy evenings and enjoy the not-so-crazy ones.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to prep tonight’s chicken pot pie!

What do you do for food when the going gets tough (or busy)? Which meal do you find to be the most challenging?

Special thanks to Tara Gidus!