5 Tips to Help Shed Your Food Rut Habits

It’s Wednesday night and you’ve had a long, tiring day at work. You’ve already gone grocery shopping for the week; you have all the ingredients to make that Barefoot Contessa dish you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest, but you just can’t bring yourself to cook it. So, you pour yourself a glass of red and browse options for takeout. So much easier right? After all, you have had a long day—Ina Garten can wait for tomorrow. Except that tomorrow still finds you stuck in the takeout cycle. 

Getting stuck in a vicious ‘quick and easy’ and ‘too tired to cook,’ cycle happens to most of us, especially when slammed at work, traveling for business or leisure, or when in a downright funk. If you’re anything like me, you even hear your conscience telling you that cooking at home is the better option, but by then you’ve already committed to Pad Thai from your favorite neighborhood takeout spot. 

Sure, running through a fast food spot for a quick breakfast before work might not be the worst thing every once and a while, but getting stuck in a food rut can wreak havoc on your body (and your wallet). Luckily, this bad habit is easier to fix than you think! Read on for for quick and easy ways to shed your food rut habits!

image via Nicole Franzen

1. Recognize the problem, evaluate your habits and find a solution

What exactly is a food rut anyway? If you ever find yourself thinking that you’re eating out or drinking way too much, you might be in a food rut; if you go grocery shopping with all intentions of cooking that night, but surrender your home cooked meal for a slice from the corner store pizza shop, you might be in a food rut; if you think your body or wallet is suffering from your takeout habit, you might be in a food rut!

Eventually, you’ll come face to face with the rut and realize it’s time to fix it. Think about what you’re doing that’s making you experience a food rut and how you can put an end to those habits. Instead of stopping by your favorite coffee spot on your way to work, wake up a little earlier and actually make yourself breakfast with home-brewed coffee—chances are, you’ll feel more satisfied with your choice, especially when your midmorning reports are due and you need extra energy. 

image via Instagram

2. Research nutrition tips and develop a plan

There’s nothing like watching a good food and health documentary to spin me into a craze of changing my lifestyle—researching how nutrients (or the lack thereof) affect your body is truly interesting! If you’re ready to shed the food rut baggage off your shoulders, look for nutrition tips and foods that provide nutrients your body needs.

Also, research your family history. So, if your bloodline has traces of diabetes or heart disease, your small food ruts might turn into a worse habit that’s harder to shed as you get older resulting in possibly damaging consequences. If you’re already battling an illness, research what foods you actually need to eat to keep you healthy. 

image via Fast Food and Fast Fashion

3. Establish a daily routine 

Establishing a daily routine may keep your cravings for fast food at bay. Making the effort to get up extra early to attend a yoga class or planning meal and snack times throughout your day might establish the routine you need.

However, the key to long-term success with any routine is keeping up with it! Post reminders or daily mantras around your most visited areas at work or home or set reminders on your phone to keep your goals in check. What helps me is to enlist the help of a friend—we’ll keep each other in check and hold each other accountable if we miss a workout or we skip on making a meal at home. 

image via Love and Lemons

4. Incorporate better foods

Add better foods to your diet by incorporating them into your daily meals. Find ways to make your habits healthier like swapping tea or water for coffee. If you’re forced to go out to eat (it does happen) research the menu ahead of time to make healthier decisions.

This would also be a great time to try a new way of eating, not necessarily a diet, but a lifestyle change. As always though, ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice since they know your body best second to you. Your nutritionist may be able to help you come up with a meal plan, which leads me to my next tip:

image via Double Thyme

5. Plan and prep your meals

If time is not on your side, spend one night prepping your lunch and dinner for the next couple of days. It’s easier to refuse fast food when you know your pre-packed lunch is waiting for you in the break room. For lunch, try prepping salads packed with veggies and protein in a jar and snacks such as fruit or nuts.

Dinner is easier: I highly suggest investing in a slow cooker if you don’t already have one. Load your slow cooker ingredients in the morning and let your meal simmer all day long, so that when you come home from work, your meal is already done. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers for the next day! Also, one-pot meals might be your new go-to dinner solution. Throw everything in one pot on the stovetop and dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes. 

What advice do you have when going through a food rut? Don’t forget to tag #TheEverygirlCooks on Instagram to share what you’ve been cooking up this summer! 

  • Planning meals is crucial for me. If nothing is planned that is when I go for fast food. Great article 🙂

    • Yes! It’s easier to stay on track when your meals are prepped! Thanks for reading, Carolyn!

  • These tips are so great! I agree, once you start planning your meals in advance you´re automatically less likely to eat junkfood spontaniously. Also, looking for healthy substitutes for your favourite, not-so-nutritious meals is such a great way to start eating healthier! My personal favourite here is making “pizza wraps” instead of eating real pizza!
    x Mila

    • Pizza wraps sounds amazing!! I’ve been obsessed with making my own lettuce wraps, or trying to turn leftover meats into a green salad! Thanks for reading Mila!

  • kate_quinn_1

    Hi Cassandra!
    Thanks for all the advice! I was definitely in a food rut until I did the Whole30 back in February. Since the program is very intense, one of the things that helped a ton was having a friend go through the program with me. We were each other’s support through everything, and it was hard to falter with someone else motivating me to eat well. I don’t think everyone has to do the Whole30, (it’s REALLY hard) but it definitely helped me form better habits and built so much awareness about the bad foods I was putting into my body. Since then, I haven’t been perfect, but I definitely make better choices. You can check out my story here if you’d like! http://www.athingortwoblog.com/home/2015/3/17/a-whole-lot-better


    • Hey Kate! So funny, I just completed my first whole30 last month- it was definitely well worth it- even though it was REALLY HARD at first. I was feeling so much more energized! I’m planning on doing another round, though this time I’ll probably do quinoa and milk/yogurts every once and a while. Thanks for reading, I’ll be sure to check out your post!

  • Oh it is just so true! I’ve been terrible about ordering takeout lately! I blame it on the fact that both my boyfriend and I have such inconsistent schedules but it’s honestly mostly just lazy. I’ve realized that prepping is the best way to get me to not be so wasteful and only planning for one night of take out. This way when I buy groceries I allow myself one day off but I have to be good otherwise.

    • You know what, sometimes I think being in a relationship sabotages eating healthy (unless both you and boyfriend are on the same page) you know? It’s like, you KNOW you guys shouldn’t eat out, both you’re both too lazy to cook, so eating out it is! Smart move on the one day off- at least it will still allow you to have some fun every once and a while!

  • Thanks for reading, Danae!

  • Establishing a routine is a prime idea… I think that applies in many areas of taking care of those at home responsibilities. When I’m home from work, I find it easier to get to the gym, then come back to cook or throw on some laundry if I do not sit down. Once I’ve sunk into a chair, it’s difficult to find motivation to get up… keepin’ it movin’ with an established routine is definitely key!

    All the Cute