When it comes to grocery shopping, stocking my kitchen, and cooking meals, I seem to waffle between two competing mindsets. The first is to fill my freezer and pantry with plenty of basics (like brown rice, canned tuna, and frozen veggies) so that I can whip up lots of simple dishes on a minute’s notice. The second is to keep my cupboards relatively empty, only buying the few items I need each week to prepare my meals for the next few days. Which approach makes more sense? To be honest, I’m not really sure! The first approach definitely takes some of the pressure off of regular trips to the grocery store. I think it also makes me more likely to cook healthy and nutritious dinners, even after a long day of work.
Sometimes, however, it seems that stocking the kitchen with too many basics gives me fewer opportunities to experiment with new ingredients and dishes, since I’m always trying to use up what I have! Right now, for instance, I feel sort of overwhelmed by the many different items cluttering up my kitchen. For this reason, I’ve put a temporary moratorium on grocery shopping. I’ve embraced the challenge of trying to use up much of what I have without buying anything new. I’m still letting fresh produce into the kitchen, because more fruits and veggies is never a bad thing, but that’s about it!
I’ve definitely had to start being more creative with my meals. As I run out of staple items like eggs and oats, this has become more and more of a challenge. For dinner, I’m working my way through lots of leftovers that have been squirreled away in the freezer: squash chili, bolognese sauce, and split pea soup, to start. At first, breakfasts were my usual oatmeal with chia seeds, raisins, and peanut butter. Then, I ran out of oats! Time for the creativity to really kick in. Last week, I enjoyed some homemade granola that was stashed in a mason jar in the back of my cupboard. Next week, I’ll probably attack the smoothie ingredients in my freezer (bananas, blueberries, spinach) and some protein powder from Trader Joe’s that I bought last year. It definitely feels good to clear out these ingredients, and I’m even more excited for the chance to experiment with some new items once this challenge has run its course! I’m curious: do you have a specific approach when it comes to stocking your kitchen? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your cupboards? Let me know in the comments below!