One of the challenges of sticking to a food budget is that you sometimes get in a food rut. It’s really easy to budget if you buy the same things each week – especially if you’re a solo homo. But it can also get boring. I mean, how many times can you eat chili, spaghetti, and nachos? One of the dangers with getting into a food rut is that you’ll start eating out to overcome the boredom, and then there goes the food budget.

My mother-in-law gave me a great idea for getting out of a food rut. In an attempt to eat healthier, she has vowed to eat one new vegetable a week. I think it’s a great idea that could be applied to food budgeting. It’s also a way to successfully move to a more vegan/vegetarian diet. If you introduce one new vegetable a week and try a recipe to go along with it, and then rotate it into your menu planning, you could eventually dig yourself out of that food rut.

This week my new ingredient is tomatillos. We’ve been getting them in our CSA basket for the past few weeks. I honestly had no idea what to do with them, and I hate to let food go to waste, so I did a little research. Tomatillos belong to the nightshade family and are related to tomatoes. They have a tangy flavor to them, and they are a staple of Mexican cooking. One of the easiest recipes I found was for Salsa Verde, but you can use tomatillos in a variety of ways. (For more suggestions, click here.)

Salsa Verde
1 pound tomatillos
1 medium onion, small dice
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and small dice
juice of 1/2 a lemon
5-6 stems cilantro, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Take the papery peel off the tomatillos. Wash and quarter them, then place in the food processor. Puree.

2. Transfer the puree to a medium mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. You can add more or less of all these ingredients depending on your own taste buds.

This gets better in the fridge overnight. You could eat it with chips, but it also makes a nice enchilada sauce. It would also be great with a quesadilla.

For more ideas about getting out of a food rut by reinventing everyday ingredients, check out
“10 Ways to Dress Up Canned Corn” over at Wise Bread.

What do you think – can adding a new vegetable to your “routine” get you out of your cooking rut? What ideas do you have to get over the slump so that you don’t end up blowing your food budget on fast food?

Photo credits: stock.xchng and Recipes From the Hive