5 Recipes to Break the Dinner Rut

Looking for a way to break out of the dinner rut? This week’s meals are packed with robust flavors and fresh techniques. Try out Hawaiian Pork Burgers and Jerk Chicken to tingle your taste buds.

"What's for Dinner" with a skillet of shrimp pad thai behind the words.

The dog days of summer are in full effect. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, this time of the year finds me in a very rote period of cooking. The same meals are made and served over and over again: It’s like Groundhog Day.

When it comes to keeping repetitive meals to a minimum, meal plans will always be your BFF. They open your eyes to recipes you may never have thought of before. For this week’s plan, the grill is going to earn its keep as most of our meals will be taken outside.

When it comes to planning for meals that break your normal dinner routine, it’s all about picking up that ingredient you’ve always wanted to try. Step outside of your comfort zone by introducing a new vegetable, fruit, or grain to your family this week. Even preparations can liven things up—for example, our gazpacho later on in the week.

  • Hot Dogs with Pineapple Bacon Relish

    Hot Dog with Pineapple Bacon Relish
    Elise Bauer

    New Yorkers have a love affair with hot dogs. When it comes to a loaded frank, though, I would’ve never thought of pineapple and bacon as toppings. This is one of those times where stepping outside of my comfort zone worked out deliciously in my favor. Don’t confine these sweet and salty bad boys to a regular hot dog bun, a pretzel roll is the way to go if you can find them. Next best option? Hawaiian sweet roll buns!

  • How to Make Pad Thai

    Authentic Pad Thai Recipe serve the pad Thai
    Alison Conklin

    Noodles are soaked in cold water? I can totally get with that. The entire meal cooks in 10 minutes? Yep. I’m down for all of that, too. If I have to fire up the stove, I want it on and off as soon as possible. The seafood section at the store often has cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp? Yep. They sure do. Use it to your advantage and you may find you’re more inspired to create more unique dinners.

  • Hawaiian Pork Burger

    Hawaiian Pork Burger
    Elise Bauer

    I’m telling you, I’m on a mission to make pork burgers a thing. Your crew will praise this sweet and savory island-inspired version. If you’re grill-less, you can sear these bad boys in your cast iron skillet or griddle. Of course, we want to keep the temps in the house down, so outdoor grilling (with all of its smoky flavor) is optimal. Plain potato chips are all I need to serve alongside these flavor-packed burgers.

  • Gazpacho with Avocado and Corn

    Gazpacho Soup Recipe with Avocado
    Sally Vargas

    Chilled soups that double as a salad are underrated. If you want to combat routine and hot weather temps, simultaneously, a cold dish is ideal. Even more ideal is a cold dish that’s packed with pungent flavors like onions and poblano peppers. Don’t assume that this dish isn’t filling; it’s quite the contrary, in fact. I’m never left hungry after finishing a bowl. Throw a couple of pieces of bread on the grill and toast them up to serve alongside your bowls of gazpacho.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • Jerk Chicken

    Jerk Chicken
    Elise Bauer

    How often do you have Jamaican food? If you’re like most people, it only happens on vacation. Well, this year’s vacation plans seem to go as far as the backyard. That’s okay, though—we can make the most of it by grilling a taste of the tropics. Serve jerk chicken with creamy coleslaw and maybe a few glasses of Planter’s Punch to tie it all together.