How many times have you stood in your kitchen and panicked that “there is nothing to eat for dinner!” I know I have done it many, many times. But as I have worked hard to start saving money on the food we eat, I have pushed myself to really try to cook from what we have whenever possible and this has taught me that this reaction is not due to a lack of gratitude for all that we are lucky enough to have, it is an expression of discomfort over what we don’t know. I have come to realize that this panic comes either from a place of not knowing (or thinking we don’t know) how to make something from what we have in the house or from a place of believing that each meal should be specially planned and shopped for in order for it to somehow be a true meal. And I have come to understand that both of these reasons are bogus and here are some ways to snap out of those mindsets.
1) Cooking from your pantry saves you money. Those eggs, cheese, greens, carrots, apples, or whatever languishing away in your fridge? If you don’t use them, you are going to eventually have to throw them away which will be a waste of money on top of the money you spent on take out or additional food at the grocery store. So next time you are feeling uninspired or anxious about trying something new, just remind yourself that this will help to save you money in the long run.
2) Google is a lifesaver. Let’s say you have three ingredients in your fridge that you know you need to use up but aren’t sure what to do. Google them along with the words “quick easy recipe” and see what comes up. You may be surprised.
3) Google is a lifesaver part 2. If you find that there is an ingredient in a recipe you would like to make that you don’t have. Try googling to see if there is a replacement option that you do have in your kitchen. Or even try leaving the ingredient out.
4) Dinner should be about family time more than it should be an expression of your kitchen wizardry. Breakfast for dinner, a simple pasta with peas and parmesan, sandwiches, or even throw it all on the table and let everyone make their own. These are all options that are good enough because the point is to get everyone to the table to be together.
5) Celebrate your creativity! I try to alternate weeks where I plan one week for a big grocery shop and the next week I plan from what we have leftover or sitting in the pantry and freezer, and then just buy the bare minimum. I try to think of these weeks as fun in two different ways. The first is a splurge and the second is a chance to be creative. Honestly, many of my favorite meal discoveries have been from taking the plunge and trying something different when I had limited options (feta and sweet potatoes in burritos, kale pizza, and peaches to replace bananas in smoothies, to name a few)
If you’d like to learn more about cooking from your pantry and saving money on food, then sign up for our webinar 30 Minutes, 30 Dollars: How to Spend Less and Eater Better in Less Time on Wednesday, October 8th at 7:30pm!