Proud To Be An Ingredient Household

Have you heard the term “Ingredient Household” yet? Because it is all the rage with the kids these days on Tik Tok. Where they show the world how poorly done to they are (or were) because they grew up in an ingredient household. Instead of a “Snack Household“.

Yeah, I had a good laugh first time I heard it. I was being called out for sure.

According to one site “The phrase refers to a household where there is no ready-to-eat food, but rather ingredients used in larger dishes. Instead of opening a bag of chips after school, all that’s stored in these ingredient-only households are small items such as chocolate chips, croutons, or peanut butter.

Croutons? Yeah, go make those you slackers! My kids are not even that lucky. Though I have been known to munch on croutons before as a snack.

I won’t lie though:

I grew up in an ingredient household as a Gen X’er. I went to college and was too poor to do anything else but continue on as I knew. I spent my single day off from work every week making bread, and made casseroles to eat all week. If I was hungry, I made a pot of spaghetti from scratch.

I thought everyone did this. I grew up poor, and my Mom, and then when I was old enough, we cooked every meal from scratch. I also walked every where those days. Cars were not something I could afford.

Then…..I went crazy in my 20’s eating so much processed food. Once I had a car and a job as an adult, I loved fast food. Slide in after work and get some, get myself all greased out on the way home. And oh the food I could buy at the store, ready to eat. Toss in a microwave, and eat that frozen meal. And those snacks. So many snacks. Candy, sugar cereal, crackers and chips.

I eventually connected that eating to why I didn’t feel good internally and had gained a lot of weight. When the boys were young we went back to an ingredient household once again. We slid as they entered school, and became a snack household again. Once we went to homeschooling though, I realized I didn’t need to be buying crap once again. I could make them lunches. We could make cookies together. I could make bread most days. Call me a Trad Wife if you will, but doing this for my family matters to me. I sit writing this post while I eat a curry I pulled together in under 30 minutes for us to eat for dinner, out of our pantry.

It’s an internal struggle though. Of course the family loves snacks, and easy to make food. But the more I stick to it, the better we are off. It teaches the boys how to cook, how to plan, and to not mindlessly munch. I am also always bummed when commercially made food just doesn’t live up to the promised taste. Or how little is in a container, when you get home and go to eat. Shrinkflatation is real. So is inflation.

I’d say I agree with Mark Bittman and some of his famous quotes:

  • “Anyone can cook, and most everyone should.”
  • “Junk food companies are acting very much like tobacco companies did 30 years ago.”
  • “I got into cooking out of self-defense.”
  • “I think people at least now, as opposed to ten-15-20 years ago, kind of get it, what is the bad food. I think, before, there was a time when they didn’t even get it that processed food was hurting them. Now, I think they get that, but the big enemies to switching over to good food are convenience.”
  • “Like pornography, junk food might be tough to define, but you know it when you see it.”
  • “Convenience is one of the two dirty words of American cooking, reflecting the part of our national character that is easily bored; the other is ‘gourmet.’ Convenience foods demonstrate our supposed disdain for the routine and the mundane: ‘I don’t have time to cook.’ The gourmet phase, which peaked in the eighties, when food was seen as art, showed our ability to obsess about aspects of daily life that most other cultures take for granted. You might only cook once a week, but wow, what a meal.”
  • “Cooking is like exercise or spending time in nature or good conversation: The more you do it, the more you like it, the better you get at it, and the more you recognize that its rewards are far greater than its efforts and that even its efforts are rewards.”

And for the win, Michael Pollan:

  • “Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.” Literally he said what I believe in now.
  • “Eat all the junk food you want – as long as you cook it yourself. That way, it’ll be less junky, and you won’t eat it every day because it’s a lot of work.”

Be proud of being an ingredient household!

You have skills. And if you want something bad enough, you can make it from scratch. If not…maybe you didn’t want it that bad? It for me is a clue it is bed time rather than snack time if it’s 11 pm and there’s no container of chips or cookies calling me.

A well stocked pantry can seem overwhelming to achieve, but work at it slowly and eventually you will get there. To make it even more so, we grow a lot on our homestead, and as well do prepper shopping in bulk.

We grow our herbs, and air dry them for the year. And even some spices now.

We grow fruits and berries, to turn into canned items, such as jams and sauces.

Produce is canned, frozen and freeze-dried to be used later.

Having basics like soy sauce, sesame oil, and such go far in cooking.

We buy wheat flour and yeast for bread in bulk and prep it to store for long-term.

Have recipes you know will turn out 99% of the time, your quick go-to’s that you all like. Have cookbooks that have cookable recipes.

Learn new skills as often as you can. This will increase how you cook and eat.

It’s totally normal to have flops in the kitchen. I have at least 4 dinners flop a year, that are not what anyone wants to eat. Yes, this is hard when money is tight, but if it isn’t this is why you should explore cooking beyond the usual meals.

Maybe it’s OK there isn’t go-to snacks constantly. It’s less temptation. If we eat a banana instead, is that a bad thing?

And it’s OK to have a day where you do buy prepared food and snacks. Maybe your energy is not good that day and you need something to wallow in. That’s OK. Today we went on a long walk and popped into a French style bakery and bought some items. They were made locally, so I didn’t feel guilt over it. It’s still made to what I would use at home.