As the weather changes, I get super excited to make whatever dishes go with each season. In summer, I can't get enough light, bright, cool and crisp dishes, and in fall, I haul out the Dutch oven and slow cooker and make soups, stews, and long-simmering dishes. I go back to old favorites, try new ingredients and enjoy new combinations and familiar comfort foods alike.
Unfortunately, this lasts about six or eight weeks. Then I am absolutely sick of everything I like to make, even though it's seasonally appropriate. And thus, the summer slump (or winter slump, depending) sets in. It's better in summer, when new fruits and vegetables are coming into season all the time and there's always delicious new surprises at the farmer's market, but I do tend to run out of ideas well before the reboot that comes with the change of season.
What helps is finding new recipes to try or new ways of using familiar ingredients. Right here on this very page, we have Karen's Recipe Box, which has delicious, fresh, family-friendly takes on the best of the season. Then there are food shows, magazines, etc. I like Cooking Light and Eating Well, both of which present natural, low-calorie, health-conscious recipes from the perspective of a true food lover. There's little to no processed junk and lots of great ideas.
Cable has not one but two channels devoted to food, and if you don't have cable (I don't), there's PBS cooking shows, which air on weekends and feature some amazing chefs. If you're in a big city and using an over-the-air digital channel, you might even get the Create channel, which has tons of food programming. And some food network shows are available on Amazon streaming as well and are free with their Prime membership.
Friends, family, and Facebook are also great sources of inspiration. I'm lucky enough to come from a family who likes to cook and eat together; I also have some friends who are great health-conscious cooks and also adventurous eaters when we go out to dinner. I am also not above putting out the call for help on Facebook and have come up with some wonderful suggestions that way.
And hey, when all else fails, there is nothing wrong with breakfast for dinner. Who doesn't love a (whole wheat, fruit-topped) pancake on their plate?
Where do you get your meal inspiration?