When going to the grocery store, it is easy to pick the same items on each trip; Idaho potatoes, 1% milk, eggs, and bagged salad are the normal suspects. It’s difficult to get the creative mojo going in the kitchen when you cook with the same insipid ingredients you always have on hand. Just like your laundry detergent needs a little oxy-clean to give it a boost at times, so does your mixed green salad. The good thing is that you are not having to go, “Where no man (or woman) has gone before.”  The grocery store is not the final frontier, and grocers are selling esoteric ingredients because, well, people buy them. A great way to break the ho-hum kitchen routine is to buy new ingredients. The truth is that even if Americans aren’t crazy about an ingredient like, plantains, you wont find a meal served without them in Central America. Maduros are an easy, and delicious addition to your normal routine.

A great place to do this is at an upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Harris Teeter. While it may not be cost-effective to buy all your groceries there each week, these stores will carry the unique ingredients that will make your cooking more exciting. Incorporate the kids into the mix by giving them $5.00 to buy any fruit or vegetable they want, as long as it is new to them. You can encourage them to find the funniest looking food they can. Once you get home, use to help figure out how to cut and prepare the food. This is a great way to learn more about the food world, and to get your kids to learn about new things. Just buy something new for the fun of it. The pink dragon fruit is my favorite fruit, and can be intimidating to the average cook, but this is an example how something intimidating can be made easy to understand.