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Experiment No. 28 — No Food Left Behind

In this experiment I turn my attention to foods in my pantry that do not seem destined to be eaten. There are beans, oats, rices, and couscouses that have awaited their day in the sun for months or years, and it’s clear that they will never get eaten without a conscious intervention on my part.

That’s what this experiment is. I will find a way to get these foods to the table.

Method

I removed everything from the pantry so I could see what’s there, and inventoried everything on a clipboard so I don’t forget anything as soon as it’s back in there again.

Just for fun I calculated how many calories’ worth of energy are stored in there (close to 70,000 all told).

The main strategy is to identify the toughest-to-use ingredients and immediately find promising recipes that use them.

The goal is not to empty the pantry, but to work down the foods that are at-risk of never being eaten until no worrying cases remain. I have until the end of March 2020 to do this to my own satisfaction

The Log

In the log below I’ll share observations as I make them, and also some of the ways I was able to use the food.

I’ve hung the inventory clipboard on the wall beside my desk. At a glance, the trickiest things are going to be:

Oats — I have three different types of oats, including the quick, rolled, and steel-cut variety. I actually love steel-cut oatmeal, but it always seems to make me feel weird. Recently I learned I was undercooking them (I like them chewy) which may be why. Other than for the occasional cookie recipe, I don’t use oats much, but that’s only due to ignorance. I’m looking forward to finding some new ideas online.

Dried chickpeas — The lentils will actually be easy — I’m a fan of dahl and lentil soups, so I do not consider them at risk of not being eaten. Dried chick peas are a little tougher. They require soaking, and then cooking, and I don’t have any go-to chickpea recipes that I actually enjoy. My hummus is poor because I don’t have a food processor. They are a very versatile food though, and I enjoy them when they’re well-prepared.

Rice — I avoid rice as a meal’s primary starch because eating large amounts of it just seems to make my blood sugar spike and then crash. But there are ways to work smaller amounts into more balanced dishes. Soups come to mind.

Cornmeal – Why do I have this stuff? I suppose I can make cornbread, which can be delicious but only if you make it unhealthy. Maybe I’ll do it anyway. This may be one thing worth making just to bring to a friend’s house as a gift.

Bulgur — Tabouli is a personal favorite but due to its tomatoes and cucumbers, large batches don’t work well because the veggies get ragged and gross after a few hours. It may make sense to just prepare the bulgur, lemon, and parsley mixture, and add in fresh tomato and cuke just before serving. Isn’t it interesting to discover the little aversions that prevent us from making things we actually like?

If you have fun recipe suggestions, I’m all ears.

***

March 4: I made cornbread. Good decision.

***

March 5: I made the peanut-butter-fudgey oatmeal and it just wasn’t my thing. I was impressed by the way several ingredients combined to form a new substance I had never seen before. The taste was good — cocoa, banana, and PB — but the surrounding oatmeal mush spoiled the whole thing for me. Clearly I don’t like oatmeal in any form. The oats will have to be used another way. Luckily there aren’t all that many left of the quick and rolled variety, so I may just keep them around for the small amounts required by certain dessert recipes. But I have two pounds of steel-cut oats, and those are tougher to use.

Also, an update on the cornbread. It was quite good, but the whole pan is gone in less than 36 hours because I was afraid of it going stale. I mostly ate it between meals and as breakfast. This brings up one hazard of making things you don’t normally make — you have to decide what it is going to replace in your diet, otherwise you end up eating it just because it’s there. That just may be my own idiosyncrasy, but it is a concern in my case. This is why I don’t want to make desserts with these ingredients.

A third concern, brought up by wallet in the original post’s comments is that pantry food is disproportionately carb-laden, so if you are trying to avoid a carb-heavy diet it’s difficult to work in new foods without shifting your diet too far in that direction. I guess it’s all about figuring out where the new dish will fit into your existing diet, so that it doesn’t distort it too much.

***

March 9: I’m happy to report the first recipe I made that will be a permanent fixture in my recipe rotation. It was the Spiced Chickpea Stew recipe recommended by several people. Really good and was easy enough. I will pass on the recommendation. For what it’s worth, I halved the coconut milk and added more soup stock, and it turned out great.

Still have yet to delve into savory oatmeal, which will be my next experiment. If I do find a recipe I like, it’s hard to imagine it will lead to my buying oats regularly. But I will at least redeem the food value of what I’ve got.

My greatest challenge will be using the various pastas kicking around in there. I have seldom prepared pasta except in big bowls of it with tomato sauce, which no longer appeals to me and doesn’t feel healthy. So whatever I use it for I will need to cut it with healthier foods. I suppose pasta salads are in order, although I will have to keep them heavy on the vegetables, otherwise the only thing diluting the pasta will be oils and mayos.

I like that this project is forcing me to recognize how limited my meal ideas have been. I thrive on predictability, which has led to narrow views about how certain foods must be used. I might just become a pasta salad person by the end of this.

***

March 10: I would like to announce that I will be making savory steel cut oats (using this recipe).

I’m saying so here so that you will hold me to account. I have a strong aversion to oats, and I have chickened out of making them a few times already.

I also got the stuff for tabouli today, which is exciting. I’ll make it tomorrow.

That chickpea stew was wonderful and as soon as it’s gone I’m going to soak enough for another batch.

***

March 13:

I made savory steel-cut oats and it was wonderful. I added salt and pepper, sauteed onions and red pepper, and topped it with Italian sausage. It was wonderful, and I’m happy to report I didn’t get sick as I have before with steel-cut oats. That suggests that my method of cooking them was the problem, as I suspected. I had always used 2 cups of water instead of 4, because I didn’t like the soupiness with that much water. But I just drained it off this time, and it was delicious.

I also made tabouli today with some of the bulgur. Wonderful and easy to make, although it requires a lot of fresh ingredients.

I’m still not sure what to do with all that mismatched pasta. Soups probably — if you have any exceptional soup recipes that take pasta I would love to hear them.

***

March 15:

Well the world has changed a lot in a few days, and oddly, pantries are a big part of the equation. I would like to see the data on non-perishable groceries sold over the last 72 hours.

Surely you’ve seen the photos of empty shelves, and perhaps saw them in person. The thoroughness of it was impressive. People who normally buy two boxes of spaghetti might have had twelve or twenty on their cart. Some of this was probably irrational panic-buying, but even without that aspect, when every single household buys what they might need for weeks of isolation, it’s going to equal shiploads of food.

My hope is that it all gets used eventually. Who knows how many people will be truly housebound for weeks, but I suspect in three months or so, a lot of people could benefit from a pantry project like I’m doing here. I did not rush out this weekend — I still have a lot of food here and I am a household of one.

This weekend I made a wonderful Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Stew, with rice, and I’ll be following it up with some kind of soup that can utilize mismatched pasta types. Other than that I am doing quite well at working through the at-risk-of-waste stuff. I made two batches of tabouli this week, and will continue to live on it as long as it is still advisable to leave the house for parsley.

How are you doing? Has the pandemic situation changed your pantry much?

***

March 17:

I can’t believe it’s only been two days since my last update — the situation changes so much each day.

On the pantry front I continue to make progress, in the form of delicious food. This time I turned some rice, tomato paste, and lentils into what I know as “Mexican Lentil Casserole” although I don’t think it’s actually Mexican. Taco seasoning is what gives it its official nationality.

Next up is minestrone, which has never been my favorite, but it takes many forms and will consume some of the errant pasta shapes kicking around.

I’m learning that I don’t have many uses for pasta. I went through a phase in which I was fascinated with red wine, and ended up making pasta with meat sauces on a regular basis, and (apparently) buying pasta even more frequently than I was eating it. So I’m stuck with a lot of it. I don’t like pasta salads really, and I don’t know where else to put the stuff. It keeps well though, I’m just anxious to eliminate some of the types I have only the dregs of. I’ll slip them in my soups.

***

March 22:

Well the world has sure changed a lot over the past week. I will finally make the minestrone today. I’ve been eating the casserole, plus leftovers of the “last get-together” with my family, which happened last weekend.

I still have an unbelievable amount of food. I had calculated 70,000 calories in there, which is 35 days at 2,000 a day. But fresh foods are also making up a fair amount of my diet, and there is also the factor of getting a few new ingredients to complete a new recipe (although I am trying to minimize that). I didn’t count my freezer, either which contains a few pounds of quinoa, which I’ve also been eating.

For the first time I’m experiencing a conflict between what I want to eat and what I want to get used. An important goal for me is to get all the various pasta dregs used, which is the sole reason I’m making minestrone, but I really want to make that chickpea and lentil stew again. Oh well. I’m happy to have all these options.

All in all my progress is a lot slower than I expected, but that’s actually a good thing. I’m steadily making good food out of unexciting pantry fare, and that’s the whole point. I’m in no rush to get rid of anything, I just want to make sure that everything in there gets eaten at some point, and all that’s necessary to ensure that is a habit of knowing what’s in there, and being proactive about using what’s hard to use. So far so good.

***

March 26:

When I first made the minestrone I didn’t like it, and I literally had gallons. But after a night in the fridge it coalesced and I really enjoyed it.

Coming up: dahl, a return of the chickpea stew, and whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce.

It’s occurring to me now that the ultimate reward of this experiment will be a handful of delicious and inexpensive favorites I can make with pantry fare, the chickpea stew being the first one on the list. I do enjoy spending an evening making batch food, and I’ll be glad to have go-to recipes for that. Even if they require the overnight soaking of beans or some other long-term planning, it’s doable when I already know what I’m going to make.

I need recipes for: wild rice, rice noodles, barley. I see soups on the horizon.

April 4

The month has ended, which happened to be the longest month in the history of humankind. I am now making use of pantry food as a natural part of what it means to live in quarantine.

Both the experiment and the pandemic situation have taught me a few things about my habits around shopping and my general lack of food preparation foresight. I see now that I generally do not plan ahead to provide meals for myself, and gravitate towards what tastes good and can be ready in less than 45 minutes. Incorporating a bit of planning — as in, tonight I’ll make a batch of something, which I can eat for the next few days — greatly improves the quality, diversity, and cost-effectiveness of what I eat.

Since I can’t go to the store very often, it’s become a lot more obvious that I would go to the store not when I was out of food, but when I was out of the low-hanging fruit of easy meals that require no foresight.

Throughout this quarantine period, which will probably last a while, I want to continue to imprint my food-foresight habits, soaking legumes, making large batches, and getting creative with what I’ve got. It really doesn’t happen automatically.

The experiment taught me another important lesson: avoid buying a large quantity of something just because you need some of it for a recipe. In the future, I’ll have a plan for the other 9/10ths of the package.

***

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{ 56 Comments }

Nat March 5, 2020 at 2:34 am

I have the habit of using old stuff in my pantry and freezer every July (before going on vacation). But it produces a paradox for me. Because I have to look for recipes to use stuff I am not usually using, and when I find a good recipe… then I want to buy more of the stuff!

Here is a recipe for chickpeas. It’s a salad so you can do it in advance, the meal or the day before. No need for soaking, just let them boil long enough with a pinch of baking soda (45 min, or longer if they are old). Drain, let cool, add lemon juice, olive oil, sliced sweet onion, salt. You can add parsley and your favorite spice (paprika goes well with it).

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 9:20 am

Hey that sounds easy. I’ll try it!

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Catherine March 5, 2020 at 1:51 pm

I make a similar salad and add some canned tuna. Also, cooked chickpeas (and other cooked dried beans) freeze well, so I usually cook a lot at once.

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mspym March 5, 2020 at 3:20 am

A wealth of chickpea ideas from Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/05/a-really-great-pot-of-chickpeas/

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:12 am

Thanks!

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mandy March 6, 2020 at 2:47 am

I’m on the Myfitnesspal app and they have some great slow cooker recipes – I have also just discovered a packet of dried chickpeas in the cupboard (WHAT possessed me to buy them? :)) so I am going to try and slow cook them. Of course this will only work if you have a slow cooker…….. will let you know the recipe and how it turned out!
Last night I found some lentil pasta in the cupboard and had that with a haricot bean (also in cupboard!) stew. it was really good.
Fry onion, celery, baby marrow, in 1T oil, add 2 tins of tomatoes – one without the juice, one with – here I used one tin of tomatoes (cupboard!) and one box of Arrabiata pasta sauce (cupboard!). Added one tin of Coconut cream (cupbaord!), 2 tins of haricot beans (cupboard!) and some crushed garlic – don’t like frying it up front as it goes bitter. Rooted through the freezer and added some frozen peas I had forgotten were there and some fresh green beans. Bit of salt and pepper and it was delicious!

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Elsie Klassen March 5, 2020 at 3:32 am

We eat a lot of oatmeal for our breakfasts. Our favorite is to put 2 cups of water in a saucepan and add a dash of salt and a liberal sprinkle of cinnamon. Then add a handful or two of raisins or dried cranberries and a peeled chopped apple. Allow this to simmer till the apples are tender, then add one cup of oatmeal and allow to simmer till done. We don’t even add sugar as the cinnamon makes it sweet enough. Just add some milk to your bowl and enjoy.

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:13 am

I think I just don’t like oatmeal in any form, but I’ll give it a try as part of this project.

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Jonathan March 17, 2020 at 8:08 am

Hi David, I enjoy the blog posts & your energy. I make overnight oats with my steelcut oats. Soak a few cups in a tupperware container with a few scoops of yogurt (I use greek) or any alternative milk or fruit juice, add a handful of frozen fruit ( I like blueberries) and some coconut or cacao nibs for extra bursts of antioxidants in these tough times.
Let it sit in the fridge overnight and in the morning you havw delicious cold breakfast.

Much love from Ohio

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Delfina March 5, 2020 at 4:01 am

The content we didn’t know we needed! Make the oatmeal artist fudgy peanut butter oatmeal (double the peanut butter), the dried chickpeas I’ve never had luck with, and for the bulgur, please try it with artichokes, mushrooms and truffle!

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Julia March 5, 2020 at 7:12 am

What was the trouble with dried chickpeas?

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:16 am

Both sound great. Can you point me to recipes?

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:17 am

Ah I found the oatmeal artist one. I have all these ingredients — I’ll make it for sure

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Karolina March 5, 2020 at 4:40 am

Hi,

I don’t have any recipes to share, just thought to remind you that you could use many of those ingredients for your Soup-port groups (either to prepare the soup at your house, or bring that bread or salad to someone else’s). You could use them up much faster that way ;)

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:18 am

Soups will be a big part of the solution, I’m sure :)

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Virginia March 5, 2020 at 7:02 am

Polenta for the cornmeal! I suppose it would work just fine and it’s a really nice comfort food. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/polenta

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:25 am

I have not had good polenta experiences in my life but I may try it one more time. I made cornbread last night which is pretty good but not my favorite.

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Julia March 5, 2020 at 7:09 am

I just love this experiment of yours!
I have a chickpea recipe for you. Firstly, I would suggest buying an Instant Pot (or another brand of electric pressure cooker). With Instant Pot I am never worried I won’t be cooking those beans and whole grains. This is my best kitchen investment.
The recipe for chickpeas is chickpea arugula or spinach tapenade.
Hit google translate from Dutch: http://carrot-brocante.blogspot.com/2012/10/tapenades-pindakaas-koekjes.html?m=1
Easy and delish!
Or you could make a soup :) http://carrot-brocante.blogspot.com/2012/11/kikkererwten-spinazie-soep.html?m=1

Oats always made me feel bad too. I don’t eat them anymore. They are very difficult to digest :( Even perfectly cooked. I prefer whole graun oats, they are great for digestion. I mix them with round brown rice. You do need an Instant Pot for cooking, as it takes ages to cook whole grains otherwise.

I did not know one should soak wild rice! I’ll try next time. Because it is always too chewy after cooking, even under pressure.

Cornbread is a great decision indeed! Yum.

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll try a few oats recipes, with the hope that in certain forms of them don’t make me feel bad. Undercooked steel-cut oats definitely do.

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Tracey Sherman Falcon March 5, 2020 at 7:15 am
David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

This looks good, and I have all the stuff for it. Thanks!

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Nancy March 5, 2020 at 7:34 am

The chickpea thing is hard to get around, but I find that soaking chickpeas can be easily enough fit into life since there’s no prescribed way that it has to be done. It can be a relative no-brainer. Before bed, I often dump chickpeas in a big pot and cover them with water to 2 inches above the chickpeas. In the morning, I drain the chickpeas, add more water to cover them, then boil them until they are soft (I will do a large batch and then freeze what I don’t use). Once they are cooked and drained again, I toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, other seasonings depending on my mood, then spread them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Voilà! Crunchy flavoured chickpeas for snacking. To speed up the cooking time, I use my Instant Pot or pressure cooker to cook the chickpeas. It takes about 15 minutes instead of the longer boiling time. And you can pressure cook chickpeas without soaking them. Just takes longer to pressure cook. Plus, once you have a big batch done, you can use them to make chickpea salad, curried chickpeas, chickpeas and pasta, the list goes on.

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:33 am

I’ve never roasted chickpeas before but I keep running across recipes for them. I’ll give them a try.

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Kate March 5, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Roasted chickpeas are SO good. And I don’t even like chickpeas much. My recipe for them relies on a packet of ranch dressing powder (I know, I know…. just go with it), about a tbls of olive oil and I roaste at 400 till they seem done but not hard. They harden up a good amount as they sit and cool.

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Jenni Glenn March 5, 2020 at 7:40 am

I prepare the steel cut oats overnight by boiling, then shutting off the water after stirring in the oats. Put the lid on and forget it. In the morning, eat it room temp or reheat it. Add your blueberries and walnuts, brown sugar or soymilk and you are set.
I wish I could read all of these recipes as my pantry looks cluttered…

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:35 am

There’s something about overnight oats that freaks me out… I think I’m worried they will get gooey? I’ll do a small test batch.

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Elizabeth Munroe March 5, 2020 at 8:03 am

Oatmeal for breakfast is much improved by maple syrup and/or blueberries. Others swear by peanut butter. It was a long time before it occurred to me to put a bit of milk or half and half on it too. (I tend to have half and half in the house for coffee.) I found I liked it a lot better once I started to make it with more water (or less oatmeal.). It tastes slimy to me if it is too thick. Though there is nothing wrong with a batch of oatmeal cookies from time to time. I add cinnamon, which makes them especially tasty. Gound ginger works too. Replace 1/4 of the flour in pancake batter with oatmeal too to make the pancakes more nutritious.

Chick peas are best hidden in soups, chili, or pasta sauce. In the soup or chili, you only have to soak them. And really, how hard is that?

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:37 am

I think you’ve pinpointed my oatmeal aversion. I really don’t like slimy foods and oats can get that way, which I think is why I’ve been undercooking my steel cut oats. I’m going to do a few oatmeal experiments but I think the likely reality is that I just don’t like oatmeal. Thanks for the garnish suggestions.

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SF March 5, 2020 at 8:22 am

I can’t stand the thought of eating a bowl of oatmeal, but I recently decided to try to incorporate oatmeal into my diet for health reasons. Enter homemade granola! I make a savory version so I’m not just eating a bunch of sugar, but the possibilities are endless. It’s very easy and a great breakfast or snack! I use rolled oats.

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

I think we’re on the same page. Oats seem good for you but I need to find a non oatmeal-form to consume them in. I keep overlooking the savory possibilities.

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Susan March 5, 2020 at 8:26 am

This is THE chickpea recipe, the one that made the instagram rounds a couple months back and inspired feuds between different NYT food writers regarding whose recipes were best. The thing is, it is easy and so good! Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew with coconut and Turmeric. I’m sorry I can’t make the link work, but it will come up if you google it.

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:40 am

Thanks. I have already bookmarked this one in my research, but I appreciate your positive review. Looking forward to it.

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Martha March 5, 2020 at 8:46 am

Rice does make your blood sugar spike. But a molecular nutrition expert I know just told me that if you cool it off after cooking the starches reshape themselves into a form that won’t do that. Try cold rice like cereal – milk of choice, fruit/sweetener, cinnamon. Or there is always rice pudding!

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:42 am

Ah, that’s interesting. Much of my strategy will be to use these foods in ways that didn’t occur to me, and cold rice is definitely one of them :)

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Lex McKay March 5, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Apparently Pasta starches change when reheated too!

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Ashlee Schleicher March 5, 2020 at 10:38 am

I absolutely love this idea David! I work at the local Food Bank in my town and I can’t tell you how much food doesn’t get grabbed off our shelves because of the foresight and planning that it takes (dried beans, rice, etc). If you have the ability and time to prepare for meals, using these items is so cost efficient.

Also, for anyone doing one of these experiments in your own pantry, consider donating any unwanted/unopened food items to your local food bank. Where I live (Montana), the health department gives us different guidelines on what we can have out on our shelf. Anything that is dry (rice, crackers, cookies, cereal, etc) can be eaten one year PAST the expiration date (honestly…i really believe that it is easily longer, but I can’t just stock it for customers due to the health department regulations). Anything wet (canned beans, tuna, tetrapak milk, soup, canned fruit) can be eaten two years PAST the expiration date.

If you don’t think you will eat it, donate it! Even if it is past the date. Food Banks love to get any/all donations and we will make sure it gets into someone’s belly.

Great idea David and I just love your blog. Been a reader for years and years, just a first time commentor :)

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David Cain March 5, 2020 at 10:48 am

Thanks for this info. I didn’t get rid of much, but nothing I did was actually edible. I generally ignore best by dates.

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Marilyn McCormick March 5, 2020 at 1:57 pm

I’m new to your blog but am enjoying it. You have inspired me to clean out my dry goods cupboard, list everything according to how many servings there are ( a small bag of navy beans might make two pots of soup) so I would list the beans twice. After I have my total list, I will tape it inside my cupboard and scratch them off as I make a recipe using each. If I am making a soup or stew, I can check my cupboard door list to see if I have a small handful of pasta or rice to use up. As for the oatmeal, I think my stash of dried fruit might get put to use in some oatmeal, date, apple cookies. Thanks for the inspiration.

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David Cain March 6, 2020 at 10:06 am

Welcome Marilyn. Best of luck with your soups!

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Lex McKay March 5, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Perhaps you could use some of your rolled oats in homemade bread? I add them to my sour dough bread along with other flours. They give the bread a lovely texture and flavour.
I also add chickpeas to many vegetable slices. Sometimes you need to smash beans or peas after they are cooked to help them blend into a new dish a little better.
We spend six months of each year in a different state and I am constantly reviewing what is in the pantry so that food that will not keep is used up or travels with us. Storing foods correctly helps lengthen its self life and sealed containers, glass and plastic, are perfect. My bread flour is often kept in the fridge in hotter months.
Great ideas everyone!

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David Cain March 6, 2020 at 10:08 am

I love making bread but I haven’t in a while. A few years ago I got into it fairly seriously, but the problem is that I would end up eating entire loaves in 24 hours because I live alone and they would be stale after that.

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Lex McKay March 7, 2020 at 4:41 pm

I hear you! There’s nothing better than freshly baked bread! The secret is to slice the loaf of bread when cold and freeze as a loaf. You only need to take a couple of slices at a time.

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Adam Lee March 6, 2020 at 9:30 pm

It took me a while to learn to love oats, but now I eat them almost every day for breakfast.

My go-to recipe is half a cup of rolled oats, half a cup of water, microwave for two minutes or so until they soften, then add a splash of milk, either a drizzle of maple syrup or a spoonful of brown sugar, and chopped nuts, raisins or cranberries to taste. It’s tastier, more filling and more nutritious than almost any cereal. Steel-cut oats can be used the same way, but I have to boil them for at least 20-25 minutes for them to be soft enough to eat, so that takes more advance planning.

If that doesn’t work for you, I also soak and microwave the oats to soften them and add them to pancake batter. A half-cup to a quarter-cup of softened oats can be substituted 1:1 for flour in any pancake recipe without noticeably changing the taste or the texture. (This works well if you have a weekly pancake dinner, as we do in my house.)

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Lori March 6, 2020 at 9:47 pm

Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything Fast has a great black bean burger recipe that uses oatmeal. (It calls for using a food processor, but I’ve made it without one – just takes a little longer to prep.) There’s a recipe for granola in the book. Bittman also recommends freezing cooked beans in the cooking liquid for future use.

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Jenny Vongsathorn March 7, 2020 at 1:03 pm

I have to second the instant pot for cooking beans. If you buy a 3 qt model on sale, it will pay for itself many times over. Having said that, my husband still uses an old-fashioned stove top pressure cooker and he loves it. Either will do. We cook a one pound bag of beans at a time and freeze what we don’t use right away. We throw chickpeas and black beans in salads, or make black bean chili or an Indian chickpea curry. We eat less meat now and more beans, which is economical, healthier and better for the planet!

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Marlo March 7, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Following along with interest. I also have dried chickpeas that have been neglected too long, although I often eat and run out of canned chickpeas.

If you still have cornmeal, I recommend a type of tamale pie which is just a chilli that has a spoonful of cocoa powder added, baked with a layer of cheese and cornbread batter on top. You can omit the cheese if you like, but it makes a nice transition. Allow lots of room for the batter to rise, or have a cookie sheet underneath to catch a bit of overflow in your oven.

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Dan March 7, 2020 at 3:28 pm

I never liked oatmeal either until I happened upon savory oatmeal! I simmer rolled oats in chicken stock, throw in whatever vegetables I have around (peas are especially good) and some cheddar, top with a fried egg and hot sauce. It’s a regular winter breakfast now.

I also second Lori’s suggestion of the Bittman bean burger recipe as a way to use up oats.

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David Cain March 8, 2020 at 2:52 pm

I will definitely do something with savoury oatmeal. It’s a new concept to me.

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Jo B March 8, 2020 at 8:42 pm

I was going to suggest savory oatmeal too. Might not help with the textural ick factor but definitely makes a change from all the sugary versions. It can be used like any other grain side dish. My husband has it with smoked salmon, dill, a dash of horseradish, and soy sauce.

Or if that’s still slimy-gross, grind the remaining oats into flour and use it in soups, smoothies, or baking to sub for some of the regular flour.

You can also grind the dry chickpeas into a flour to use to make hummus or other yummy things. Apparently this is how hummus is traditionally made – not with blended cooked chickpeas. Since you don’t have a food processor maybe you might have to borrow a grinder or it might be worth getting a basic little spice grinder and doing small batches.
Good luck with the project!

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kruidigmeisje March 9, 2020 at 8:49 am

our favorite oats recipe: combine equal weights of oats, butter, grated cheese. We take 40 gr per person.
Boil a vegetable (we prefer cauliflower) to almost tender.
Casserole dish: put in vegetables first. Then the oat mixture on top. In the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (I am from an SI country) for 20-30 minutes.
We eat it with mashed potatoes, but on your diet you could skip the carbs.

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Amelia @ TheUsefulRoot March 9, 2020 at 12:14 pm

I love this one pot recipe for pasta AND chic peas! Also, for dry chic peas I just toss them in a pot full of water in morning. At lunch time a boil them and add a bay leaf and some salt. I put aside what I need for a recipe and freeze the rest. They freeze really well. You can keep the chic pea boiling water by freezing it. Next time you make soup or a broth you can add the chic pea water to it. It adds a really nice complexity. I love this experiment by the way.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/607071224759158855/

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Katherine Martinko March 9, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Hello,
Great experiment, and so important in the fight against food waste.
I share your aversion to boiled oatmeal, which is why discovering baked oatmeal changed my life. Now I make it once a week in a double or triple batch, and the whole family loves it. It lasts several days in the fridge & reheats quickly in the microwave.
Yes, there is sugar in it, but compared to how much I doused my porridge with brown sugar just to choke it down, I think it’s a fair tradeoff!
The recipe is on the first page of this slideshow I made years ago: https://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/5-delicious-ways-eat-oatmeal-breakfast/

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David Cain March 9, 2020 at 2:45 pm

Ah… baked oats is definitely a new one to me. I’ll take a look, thank you.

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Chestine Anderson March 13, 2020 at 3:14 pm

you do need a blender to make garbanzo (chickpea) waffles but they are so delicious and you can use up both your chickpeas and your oats. you also need a waffle iron. soak 1/2 cup dried chickpeas overnight, drain, then blend with 2 1/4 cups water, 1 Tablespoon sweetener ( i usually use agave), 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and an optional 2 tablespoons ground flax seed, and 1 1/2 cups oats. blend until well mixed, let sit while the waffle iron heats up, and cook in the iron. my iron takes about 9 minutes to make a perfect waffle. when it’s done, your waffle should detach easily from the iron. this recipe makes about 3 waffles in my iron. Sometimes i eat with fruit on top, or plain butter, very delicious no matter what you add!

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David Cain March 16, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Noted! thanks Chestine.

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Vidya March 22, 2020 at 8:38 pm

Hello! Long time reader, first time commenter (I read your request for people to say who they are). I’m a designer, educator, and artist who was raised on a steady diet of mung dal and philosophy. I have two ideas for oats: 1) granola (easy and delicious) 2) oats pongal. Pongal is traditional South Indian rice/mung dish (easily made in a pressure cooker but also can be made in other ways) and the grain can be replaced through experiment by things like oats, quinoa, brown rice, or other. It’s easy to make, DELICIOUS, and pretty universally healthy (in Ayurveda, “tridoshic”). Just today I made pongal and used for the starch a mix of about 15% white rice, 15% brown rice, 35% quinoa, and 35% oats. The dal:grain ratio is like 1:1 or 1:1.5. In North India it’s made as kichri with veggies thrown in. In the South it’s served with veggie stew. If you want an actual recipe either email me or Google! I would be thrilled to share ideas.

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