Prior to 2020 it was fairly common behavior to pop into a store or restaurant, motivated by current mood or what we “felt like” eating. A plan may not have been top of mind, because we inherently knew there would be something that tasted good and pretty much everything would be in stock. As the world changed, people flocked to stores. Some with intent, some fueled by panic.
And that’s where the difference between hoarding and planning begins.
From a food and meal perspective, buying lots of things without knowing what you are going to do with them could be considered hoarding.
Buying things knowing you will use them could be considered planning.
Having a plan helps you turn ingredients into food. Here are some easy steps to help get you there:
- Organize your kitchen so it makes things easier. Store similar things together and/or by recipe for efficient cooking. It’s also helpful to make your next shopping list. What are you almost out of? What do you have that requires other ingredients to make your favorite recipe? For example, pasta and pasta sauce go together. I make clam linguine in spicy red sauce, so storing diced tomatoes with clams near the pasta makes it easy to grab and cook. All my canned beans are together. Baking items (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch) are in one cabinet. Dried spices and herbs are on a shelf near the stove to make it easy to add while cooking.
- Find recipes that use your favorite flavors and ingredients. Make yourself a book. I use a binder with tabs to organize appetizers, soups, sides, entrees, and desserts. One of my favorite recipe sources are the packages of favorite foods or brand websites (including store brands!). So many companies have test kitchens with recipe experts helping to ensure they offer “goof proof” ideas. Not every recipe you find on a blog can say that same thing.
- Keep a running grocery list. I go “old school” with a pad of paper and also use the cart option if shopping online. Both of these options allow you to capture those things you need so you don’t forget. Stock up on items you use often when you see them on sale before you run out.
- Reconsider favorite recipes. You can swap many ingredients for others, like a bone in cut instead of boneless. I recently made a casserole with pinto beans instead of black beans. Delish.
- Use what you buy. This may seem obvious, but sometimes, it’s not. It is likely we have all bought something that sounded good or was a good price but had no idea what to make. Use that as your recipe search inspiration. If it turns out to be a favorite new thing, awesome! If not, at least you tried it.
- Go for balance. Five food groups. Numerous nutrients. Tasty options for all budgets and cooking skills. Think about your day, not just one meal or snack. This is how what you buy starts to become what you eat.
How will you convert your stash to a delicious plan that supports your health?