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Don't let winter doldrums get you down; try a new dish
WITH a little
If I look back over the last several weeks of meals, I can see that familiar winter pattern of putting pizza, tacos and other go-to favorites on the list, and then trying to come up with creative meals to keep us from getting bored in the intervening evenings.
There are a lot of ways you could combat this. Commit to cooking one new recipe a week for a month. Introduce theme nights to explore new cuisines. Buy an unusual produce item on every trip to the store and feature it in a menu.
I took the cheap route. Out of a desire to get a handle on what had built up in our pantry and to once again see the back of our freezer, we spent a couple weeks building our meal plan around what we already had.
This is always a valuable exercise, and a reminder of how fortunate many of us are in this country to be able to have wholesome staples like beans, rice and frozen vegetables sitting around in our homes waiting for us to notice them.
Shopping the pantry and freezer first taught us a lot of important lessons about the way we shop and eat. Here are a few takeaways:
What are you stocking up for? Our kitchen excavation uncovered layers of frozen chicken breasts, cans of tomatoes and other essentials I'd stocked up on "just in case."
While these are all staples that I will eventually use, they consumed money in my grocery budget and added weight to my shopping bags at a time when I didn't really need them. Maybe I could get away without all that over-buying if I repressed the urge to buy everything in multiples.
Shopping more often might be more efficient. Trips to the store can be hard to fit into a busy lifestyle, but if you aren't shopping for a whole week's worth or more of food at one time, the shopping trip doesn't take as long. You also might be less likely to pad your cart with things you don't really need to stave off scarcity between shopping trips.