Monday’s Chickpeas, Yesterday’s Pants


I’m writing today with a rather profound problem. The problem (which has manifested itself on a rather regular basis ever since I became distracted and engrossed in four simultaneous projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with cooking) finally crystallized for me a few nights back when I was over at my friend Alice’s place.

Alice complained that sometimes as she gets dressed in the morning she’s worried that she’s wearing “Yesterday’s pants” or “Last Friday’s Hair.” She has to think on it a little and go back through the Rolodex in her mind of the clothes she has worn and the styles she has sported over the last 5 or so days to make sure she’s not in repeat mode.

I have a similar problem, but it has nothing to do with clothes.  More and more often I find that I’m using Monday’s chickpeas in Wednesday’s four bean stew, or Tuesday’s broccoli in Thursday’s pasta.  Do you get my drift?  It’s not quite cheating I suppose, but I’m rather embarrassed by it, and it worries me.  I’m afraid I’m becoming a dull and forgetful cook.  I’m worried Romeo will notice.  I’m worried that this reusing (and sometimes recycling!) of ingredients is becoming an endemic trend in my kitchen that might turn me off of cooking altogether, or cause the main consumers of my cooking to ease their hunger at other troughs…

This is different from Gansie’s fried egg obsession, methinks. It’s not about obsessing about chickpeas, it’s about not remembering or not caring (!) that I’m using chickpeas or broccoli or black beans in meals twice or more in the same week (that’s not to say I don’t love chickpeas… I do!  I love them so much it hurts to write this, for fear someone will think that I intend to defame that superior legume!)

I know it has nothing at all to do with my long-time vegetarianism or my annoying nature-imposed lactose-free diet; this problem never haunted me in the past.  I suppose that it could have something to do with farmers’ market closing for the winter (but that only happened a few weeks back). Is this the onset of old age?  Is this the same kind of kitchen downfall that kills the creativity of busy parents (I fuzzily recall that my parents were often ingredient repeaters as well. I suffered this recycling and repeating trend in near silence, until I got bored of their cooking and decided to take up cooking my own meals in my teens).

So these are my questions to you ESers:

1) Does this same predicament stalk your kitchen adventures?

2) Is it cheating to use the same main ingredients several days a week?  What about recycling leftovers to add to a new dish?

Your stories and help please!

Picture: Goya

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  • jeni stewart December 10, 2009  

    hi, there. what’s your problem with repeating ingredients in the same week? you wouldn’t think twice about repeating eggs or chicken or fish. and if you bought a bag of spinach too big for one meal, you would want to use it up before it spoils. how about salads? i’m sure you repeat those – i do! i find i’m guilty of using coriander (cilantro), cumin and tumeric too often. but trying to balance out the frequency-of-appearance of starches, plus keeping the chicken or fish days spaced, plus attempting to get in the essential-5-a-day!!! then you have to consider the appearance of the dish – this week i have served two (delicious) meals consecutively, both very red! something has to give somewhere. it’s not cheating!

  • Summer December 10, 2009  

    Definitely not cheating to repeat ingredients or repurpose leftovers. It’s just practical.

    I think it’s more of a problem if you get into a flavor rut. If your Tuesday broccoli is in a Cantonese stir-fry and the Thursday broccoli is part of a garlicky Italian pasta, your diners won’t get bored, and you won’t have to throw away a bag half-full of slimy broccoli next week. But if all you ever do is make stir-fry, that’ll get old fast.

    I consider it a challenge to my creativity to find different ways to use up the produce I bought in bulk or to turn what’s left of last night’s dinner into something completely different tonight. Creative cooking is the opposite of cheating, right?

  • Maids December 10, 2009  

    Interesting takes. I guess I’m sensitive to the fact that my diners are eating chickpeas at least twice a week for perhaps the last 3 weeks. The fact that there is far less produce in the house now that the farmer’s market has closed doesn’t help matters. The repeat flavoring can also be a problem. I think I need to restock my spice rack.

  • Liza December 10, 2009  

    I feel you maids – I’m more in a rut of recipes so I just need some new inspiration. I feel guilty if the meals we ate last week are the same meals we have this week.

  • gansie December 10, 2009  

    my friend in middle school used to keep a journal of the clothes she wore each day so she would never go through the disaster of repeating an outfit too soon. i guess the food equivalent is keeping a blog, no?

  • Emily December 10, 2009  

    I try to come up with recipes that enable me to “recycle” ingredients…I thought that’s what people did! Good to know I’m not alone in not always doing so…Anyway, I also think it’s practical. Why not do it?
    Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who wonders if they’re wearing “yesterday’s pants.”

  • westcoast December 14, 2009  

    I am sure I have seen Lincoln Park After Dark on Gansie at least twice.

  • gansie December 14, 2009  

    @westcoast – guilty!

  • shelly October 13, 2011  


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