5 ways to get food inspiration

Food inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes

So 2 months of actively posting and almost 80 recipes later, it suddenly struck me (like a clean sliding glass door), that at this rate, I may someday run out of original recipes to post. My goal has always been to post at least 1 recipe a day, but with work being as crazy as it is and my list of ideas dwindling, I started to wonder if this was realistic.

Then I thought about what I did when I hit a cooking rut before I started this blog. This list quickly came together and I thought I’d share it with all of you for that day when you just can’t figure out what you feel like making.

Cherry tomatoes at the farmers market

Red onions

Radishes, carrots, and beets, oh my!

  1. Rummage through pantry/fridge This almost always works. I’m one of those people that just buys the most random shit, often because it’s something I’ve never cooked with. Given the microscopic dimensions of my kitchen and “European” fridge, it’s required that I go through and cull the contents of my fridge and pantry on a regular basis. I’m not the most organized person in the world, so digging through the pantry is like a veritable treasure hunt of surprises which inevitably leads to a train of thought that goes something like this: “That tamarind paste would go nicely with the rice stick noodles… Ohh and I have prawns in the fridge…. shit! where did this mint come from?…”
  2. wander around a food market
  3. When I have time (and money), I like to hit up local food stalls such as the ones at the farmers market (the little one at Tompkins Square, not the massive cluster f*ck at Union Square) and the Essex Public Market in the Lower Eastside. Although I’ve been around the block when it comes to food, I’m still a virgin to many ingredients I find at these joints. There’s also the encounters with old-flamea that I tired of long ago. Seeing them so fresh, tender and green really reinvigorates the lust in me to get to know it them over again.

  4. troll food blogs
  5. As much as I love checking out all the amazing things the food community comes up with, I try not to get more than a rough idea from other blogger’s posts like I did with this Hamachi Carpaccio that was inspired by a Panna Cotta.

  6. pull out cookbooks
  7. This really has to be reserved for weekends as I can spend hours flipping through and looking at pictures of tasty things. But that’s usually all I look at… the pictures. As the name of this blog implies, I’m your typical guy’s-guy that doesn’t ask directions, rarely reads the manual before operating heavy machinery and almost never follows recipes

  8. eat out
  9. While this can be incredibly inspirational, I try to keep this to a minimum as it’s too easy to rack up a few grand in debt eating out in NY and there’s nothing that kills the mood to cook like getting a $20,000 credit card bill (yes this actually happened to me when I first moved here). Now I try to keep it to one dinner a week at smaller (read: cheaper) more innovative (not another steak tartare rehashed with Asian ingredients) restaurants. Perilla is a great example, using fresh local ingredients to fill out a small, innovative menu that isn’t about to go 12 rounds with my wallet.

So that’s it for me. Now tell us how you get inspired in the kitchen? Share your comments below:-)

pantry-5

My pantry is crowded like the city outside

pantry-2

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    I’m in exactly the same boat..but I can’t post everyday. Great tips and thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    I’m in exactly the same boat..but I can’t post everyday. Great tips and thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Agreed… The only way I’d post everyday is this was a high-paying job! :P
    I like wandering around food markets and building something I make around an interesting find. More often, though, I think of something (usually pastry-related) I haven’t done yet and write it in a notebook or sketch it (if it’s assembled). Then I buy groceries around it.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com manggy

    Agreed… The only way I’d post everyday is this was a high-paying job! :P
    I like wandering around food markets and building something I make around an interesting find. More often, though, I think of something (usually pastry-related) I haven’t done yet and write it in a notebook or sketch it (if it’s assembled). Then I buy groceries around it.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    If I have time (ie NEVER) I love to get out my stack of Cuisine magazines and browse for inspiration. Cuisine is a New Zealand mag and I’ve never seen a better one…it has this column called “quick smart” which is lots and lots of suggestions based on a different theme every month (ie Stone Fruit, Soups, barbeque-ing etc) and always always makes me want to cook something. Love the glimpse into your pantry! :)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    If I have time (ie NEVER) I love to get out my stack of Cuisine magazines and browse for inspiration. Cuisine is a New Zealand mag and I’ve never seen a better one…it has this column called “quick smart” which is lots and lots of suggestions based on a different theme every month (ie Stone Fruit, Soups, barbeque-ing etc) and always always makes me want to cook something. Love the glimpse into your pantry! :)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    blimey! great pics..i usually think of the foods my mum has made and the stuff i’ve eaten around the world. definitely cooking shows, cookbooks, the weather, my favourite colours, make-up. that sounds really floofy (if there’s such an expression) but somehow that works!

    i envy you for having a stacked pantry :( it seems i run out so quick of fresh foods in my fridge all the time. and i’m poor. or at least i am by the time it’s abt the end of the month.

    x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    blimey! great pics..i usually think of the foods my mum has made and the stuff i’ve eaten around the world. definitely cooking shows, cookbooks, the weather, my favourite colours, make-up. that sounds really floofy (if there’s such an expression) but somehow that works!

    i envy you for having a stacked pantry :( it seems i run out so quick of fresh foods in my fridge all the time. and i’m poor. or at least i am by the time it’s abt the end of the month.

    x

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com/ Claudia (cook eat FRET)

    this is a great post, inspiring. the pantry thing is key – as we know. how i wish i were back in nyc for more than a vacation here and there. but i’ll be there in july and i’ll be eating my heart out!

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com Claudia (cook eat FRET)

    this is a great post, inspiring. the pantry thing is key – as we know. how i wish i were back in nyc for more than a vacation here and there. but i’ll be there in july and i’ll be eating my heart out!

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    I run out of steam too. I’m not sure what I’m going to cook tonight (fortunately, I have one in the wings to post just in case). My new thing is going to be having my (non-cooking) husband guest-blog. This will require him to cook, though, so we’ll just see…

    My big trick for when I’m in a slump is to go to a store that I haven’t been to (although now even the Asian megamart is becoming familiar territory) or to a section I haven’t been to and just buy something that I’ve never seen before.

    My schtick is taking an ingredient (e.g., gai lan) and using it in a dish for which it was never intended (e.g., gratin). :D

    I didn’t realize that you post every day – I guess I should be more diligent about checking here. :)

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    I run out of steam too. I’m not sure what I’m going to cook tonight (fortunately, I have one in the wings to post just in case). My new thing is going to be having my (non-cooking) husband guest-blog. This will require him to cook, though, so we’ll just see…

    My big trick for when I’m in a slump is to go to a store that I haven’t been to (although now even the Asian megamart is becoming familiar territory) or to a section I haven’t been to and just buy something that I’ve never seen before.

    My schtick is taking an ingredient (e.g., gai lan) and using it in a dish for which it was never intended (e.g., gratin). :D

    I didn’t realize that you post every day – I guess I should be more diligent about checking here. :)

  • http://www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com/ michelle @ TNS

    oh perilla, it’s been too since i ate your delicious food.

    when i get stuck, i like to try to invent sweet versions of savory classics and vice versa. and there’s nothing like a jaunt through the dark recesses of the pantry or freezer to spark something.

  • http://www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com michelle @ TNS

    oh perilla, it’s been too since i ate your delicious food.

    when i get stuck, i like to try to invent sweet versions of savory classics and vice versa. and there’s nothing like a jaunt through the dark recesses of the pantry or freezer to spark something.

  • http://typepad.remarcom.com/remarkable_communication/ Sonia Simone

    I like to wander around Whole Foods and buy some gorgeous & expensive bit of produce. Our farmer’s markets here are–well–farmy. Nice lettuce & radishes, the corn & tomatoes are good in season, but nothing that makes me swoon.

    I also have a Cook’s Illustrated addiction, so there’s generally something there I want to try. A million miles from innovation, but sometimes it’s nice to add, say, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to one’s repertoire.

  • http://typepad.remarcom.com/remarkable_communication/ Sonia Simone

    I like to wander around Whole Foods and buy some gorgeous & expensive bit of produce. Our farmer’s markets here are–well–farmy. Nice lettuce & radishes, the corn & tomatoes are good in season, but nothing that makes me swoon.

    I also have a Cook’s Illustrated addiction, so there’s generally something there I want to try. A million miles from innovation, but sometimes it’s nice to add, say, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to one’s repertoire.

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/ Susan from Food Blogga

    Local farmers’ markets are my main source of inspiration. I often base my menu on what’s available. Eating local, seasonal foods keeps thing from getting boring since there is always something new to try!

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com Susan from Food Blogga

    Local farmers’ markets are my main source of inspiration. I often base my menu on what’s available. Eating local, seasonal foods keeps thing from getting boring since there is always something new to try!

  • http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com/ EAT!

    I read through magazines, cookbooks, newspaper food guides, blogs to get new ideas. I try to think of something ordinary and change it up. It seems some ideas come easier than others. Sometimes I can’t think of anything more origainal than hamburgers and fries.

  • http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com EAT!

    I read through magazines, cookbooks, newspaper food guides, blogs to get new ideas. I try to think of something ordinary and change it up. It seems some ideas come easier than others. Sometimes I can’t think of anything more origainal than hamburgers and fries.

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    I don’t know how you can post everyday…I couldn’t do it! I do the same though when I can’t figure out what to do…I also give myself challenges like it needs to be healthy or I can’t actual go to the store. The challenge helps me be more creative!

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    I don’t know how you can post everyday…I couldn’t do it! I do the same though when I can’t figure out what to do…I also give myself challenges like it needs to be healthy or I can’t actual go to the store. The challenge helps me be more creative!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ We Are Never Full

    Great post! I agree with everything you mentioned. Sometimes I’ve even just looked at the menu’s of restaurants for inspiration! Also, you forgot travel. That’s the best source of inspiration for us… unfortunately it’s expensive and time consuming (in a good way!).

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com We Are Never Full

    Great post! I agree with everything you mentioned. Sometimes I’ve even just looked at the menu’s of restaurants for inspiration! Also, you forgot travel. That’s the best source of inspiration for us… unfortunately it’s expensive and time consuming (in a good way!).

  • http://canarygirl.com/ canarygirl

    Oooh! I have to agree with all the ways you mentioned for inspiration, and would also like to add that for me? Cravings play a huge part, too…There is no plethora of ethnic cuisines here like there is in the States…even my dinky little town in Minnesota had more worldly variety…so, I’m left to my own devices, especially for Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, even typically American stuff. Of course, we do have the delicious local and regional offerings, as well as lots of Moroccon, Lebanese and Argentinian places.

  • http://canarygirl.com canarygirl

    Oooh! I have to agree with all the ways you mentioned for inspiration, and would also like to add that for me? Cravings play a huge part, too…There is no plethora of ethnic cuisines here like there is in the States…even my dinky little town in Minnesota had more worldly variety…so, I’m left to my own devices, especially for Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, even typically American stuff. Of course, we do have the delicious local and regional offerings, as well as lots of Moroccon, Lebanese and Argentinian places.

  • http://asoutherngrace.blogspot.com/ grace

    $20000? good googa mooga. i hope you had some extra fabulous meals that month!

    i admire you for taking on this endeavor. sometimes i’m pretty sure i’m the most unoriginal person in the world, as the best i can usually do is take someone else’s recipe and maybe add a couple things to it. i’m a work in progress, and your tips are greatly appreciated! keep up the stellar work!

  • http://asoutherngrace.blogspot.com grace

    $20000? good googa mooga. i hope you had some extra fabulous meals that month!

    i admire you for taking on this endeavor. sometimes i’m pretty sure i’m the most unoriginal person in the world, as the best i can usually do is take someone else’s recipe and maybe add a couple things to it. i’m a work in progress, and your tips are greatly appreciated! keep up the stellar work!

  • http://chewonthatblog.com/ Hillary

    Thank you for this post! Lately I’ve been struggling for inspiration but this post gave me some focus back!

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    Thank you for this post! Lately I’ve been struggling for inspiration but this post gave me some focus back!

  • marc

    Peter G, any time.

    Manggy, I wish this was a high paying job (or that my day job was high paying), but honestly I love cooking and since I can’t have a dinner party every night, this is the next best way to share with other people.

    Laura, I’m going to have to pick up some copies of Cuisine the next time I’m down there.

    Diva, HAAHA floofy, I’ll have to remember that one. That’s actually not my pantry, I emptied the contents of a couple shelves in my pantry onto my kitchen table.

    Claudia, I’m really not much of a big city guy, but I have to say that I’ll miss the restaurants when I move away eventually.

    Heather, great tips! I love checking out new grocery stores too. I also love turning things into dishes that they were never intended to be included in. I’m not sure how much longer i can keep the 1 post a day average up.

    Michelle, I was so bummed when Eat Inside (the space that is now Perilla) closed. But Perilla is just as good (if not better). The sweet version of savory classics is a great idea.

    Sonia, great ideas! I love CI. And even simple recipes can be sublime when executed perfectly.

    Susan, I’m a big fan of eating local and seasonal too. It gives you something to look forward to every year.

    EAT!, there’s nothing wrong with a burger and fries, it’s probably one of my most frequently craved items.

    Ginny, great idea! I do get a bit stressed about posting everyday, so we’ll see how long I can keep it up.

    We Are Never Full, good point! I did forget travel, though unfortunately I can’t hop on a plane to Tunisia every time I need a little inspiration (maybe someday).

    canarygirl, yea i get cravings a lot too. Where are you? Mediterranean food is one of my favourites so I wouldn’t mind having limited choices if I could get good mediterranean food.

    Grace, it was actually over a couple months and I did have some fantastic meals. I’m quite certain you’re not the most unoriginal person in the world, the fact that you make changes to recipes is a good sign. Just keep playing around with food and you’ll eventually come up with something entirely new:-)

    Hillary, you’re very welcome, thanks for the nice comment!

  • marc

    Peter G, any time.

    Manggy, I wish this was a high paying job (or that my day job was high paying), but honestly I love cooking and since I can’t have a dinner party every night, this is the next best way to share with other people.

    Laura, I’m going to have to pick up some copies of Cuisine the next time I’m down there.

    Diva, HAAHA floofy, I’ll have to remember that one. That’s actually not my pantry, I emptied the contents of a couple shelves in my pantry onto my kitchen table.

    Claudia, I’m really not much of a big city guy, but I have to say that I’ll miss the restaurants when I move away eventually.

    Heather, great tips! I love checking out new grocery stores too. I also love turning things into dishes that they were never intended to be included in. I’m not sure how much longer i can keep the 1 post a day average up.

    Michelle, I was so bummed when Eat Inside (the space that is now Perilla) closed. But Perilla is just as good (if not better). The sweet version of savory classics is a great idea.

    Sonia, great ideas! I love CI. And even simple recipes can be sublime when executed perfectly.

    Susan, I’m a big fan of eating local and seasonal too. It gives you something to look forward to every year.

    EAT!, there’s nothing wrong with a burger and fries, it’s probably one of my most frequently craved items.

    Ginny, great idea! I do get a bit stressed about posting everyday, so we’ll see how long I can keep it up.

    We Are Never Full, good point! I did forget travel, though unfortunately I can’t hop on a plane to Tunisia every time I need a little inspiration (maybe someday).

    canarygirl, yea i get cravings a lot too. Where are you? Mediterranean food is one of my favourites so I wouldn’t mind having limited choices if I could get good mediterranean food.

    Grace, it was actually over a couple months and I did have some fantastic meals. I’m quite certain you’re not the most unoriginal person in the world, the fact that you make changes to recipes is a good sign. Just keep playing around with food and you’ll eventually come up with something entirely new:-)

    Hillary, you’re very welcome, thanks for the nice comment!

  • http://canarygirl.com/ canarygirl

    Hi Mark, you asked where I am…in the Canary Islands, Spain. :) (hence the nik, lol) The most common types of restaurants are Canarian and (other) Spanish restaurants, particularly Galician, and places that specialize in rices, or tapas.

  • http://canarygirl.com canarygirl

    Hi Mark, you asked where I am…in the Canary Islands, Spain. :) (hence the nik, lol) The most common types of restaurants are Canarian and (other) Spanish restaurants, particularly Galician, and places that specialize in rices, or tapas.

  • Pingback: Steak with Mushroom Sauce (Steak Aux Champignons) | [ No Recipes ]

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

Spaghetti with Soy Sauce Butter Scallops
Kielbasa with Sweet Onions & Lima Beans
Spring Roll
Chickpeas with spring greens
Spaghetti Alle Vongole
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
Crab and Bamboo Rice (Kani takikomi gohan)
Negitoro Sushi