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Do you live in an ingredient household?

That question is the title of an article that popped up on my phone the other day and I saved it because I thought it would be a fun thing to discuss with you guys!

carrot cake oats

Apparently, this is currently a hot topic over on TikTok, an app I do not have (because I do not even have time for Instagram right now).

TikTokers are saying they hated growing up in an ingredient household (“Mom, why don’t we have snacks??”), but now they’ve turned into adults with ingredient households.

What IS an ingredient household?

It’s a home that stocks mostly, well, ingredients, instead of ready-to-eat foods.

Like, instead of oatmeal packets, you might have jars of oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and there’s milk in your fridge.

You can eat oatmeal for breakfast, but you do have to make it.

Instead of bottles of coffee, you have coffee grounds, sugar, and cream.

black coffee maker

Basically, if you open the fridge and pantry, there’s not much that you can just grab and eat.

You know those restocking videos we chuckled at a bit ago?  In some of those, people are restocking their fridges with nothing but packaged snacks and bottled beverages, and that is the polar opposite of an ingredient household.

Is it better to be an ingredient household?

I have not watched the TikTok discourse on this, but I’m guessing that there is a sense in which we all sort of feel like we should be an ingredient household.

So, I would not be surprised if ingredient-house people are doing some humble-bragging, while non-ingredient house people are feeling a little defensive.

(Again, I haven’t gone down this rabbit hole. I’m speculating!!)

I mean, you probably do end up eating healthier when you tend toward stocking ingredients vs. ready-to-eat foods. And it generally is cheaper to buy ingredients.

Hungry Harvest produce

But as I was reading the aforementioned article, I was thinking….very few modern people actually live in true ingredient households when compared with people from the past.

I mean, people who classify themselves as ingredient households are still buying pasta, cereal, bread, mayo, peanut butter, and so on.

It’s sort of like how when we say we cook from scratch, we don’t mean that super strictly.

We will make a dinner that includes dried pasta, a sauce based on canned tomatoes, topped with a sprinkle of store-bought Parmesan cheese and still consider that a from-scratch meal.

baked ziti.

Most of us aren’t making our own pasta or Parmesan. 😉

Also: are we counting things like bananas as ingredients or as ready-to-eat foods? Grape tomatoes? Oranges? Baby sweet peppers?

The distinctions are a little complicated, methinks.

My house is in-between

All that said, my house falls somewhere in the middle.

I do make my own yogurt from a gallon of milk.

ball plastic lids for yogurt jars

I brew my daily coffee and add sugar and cream.

I make my own granola.

ball mason jar of granola.

I’ve made lots of applesauce over the years.

jars of applesauce

I’ve made countless breadstuffs from scratch.

potato cinnamon rolls

buttery bubble bread

oatmeal bread cooling on rack

whole wheat bread

bread cooling on a rack.

pampered chef bread tube bread recipe

bear bread

Potato rolls in a white oblong pan.


And my fridge usually is filled with things like milk, fruits, eggs, and vegetables.

But on the other hand, I currently also buy:

  • bottled salad dressings
  • mac and cheese/ramen for Zoe
  • some cans of soup
  • cereal
  • cheese (is cheese an ingredient? Or a ready-to-eat food? I DUNNO. I kinda think it’s both.)
  • frozen sweet potato fries
  • occasional frozen pizzas
  • frozen ravioli
  • jarred tomato pasta sauce
  • rotisserie chickens (and I use the bones to make broth, but then is the broth actually from scratch, or does it only count if you make broth from home-roasted chicken??)
  • granola bars
  • potato chips
  • tortilla chips
  • crackers
  • pretzels

And as you know, I’ve been buying some Dinnerly boxes here and there of late to help me get through these very busy few weeks.

(Dinnerly boxes are full of ingredients, and you do have to cook them, but I don’t know how you’d categorize this!)

inside of a Dinnerly delivery box.

In conclusion, I think I lean slightly toward being an ingredient household, but I am definitely not strict about it.

In the future when I’m an empty nester and I’m done with this super busy little phase of life, I might veer a bit more toward the ingredients-only side of things.

But who knows? I’ve never tried being an empty nester before!

What about you?

How would you classify your household on the ingredient/ready-to-eat spectrum?

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Thursday 30th of May 2024

It seems like you wrote this post so you could link to a bunch of your other posts. I see you, and I'm not clicking on any of them.


Thursday 30th of May 2024

This is crushing news indeed.


Friday 23rd of February 2024

I did kind of want to put my two cents in here as someone who didn't grow up in an "ingredient house", but had a very good friend who did. It doesn't necessarily mean pre-packaged snacks or meals. Usually it means there are NO snacks purchased or encouraged, and often that they're discouraged all together. There would not be granola or chips, but even things like yogurt and fruit to snack on aren't purchased. It's usually an overarching issue with food wherein the parents treat their growing children like they're absurd for needing or wanting a snack. I very much remember my stick thin friend being put on a diet because her dad thought she looked too big- She was one of the thinnest girls I knew. It's less about packaging and more about the attitude surrounding food. Snacks didn't exist because that would mean kids were allowed to eat at their own leisure, and that wasn't allowed at all. Ingredients only refers to ingredients for MEALS only. Meaning you can't just grab something from the fridge to cook, because it's been set aside for a planned meal. From the sound of your post and most of the comments, very few people here would be considered "ingredient households" because you still allow your kids to snack, they just have to put the effort into making something. I hope this has made some sort of sense, I love your blog a lot but the misunderstanding of this trend rubbed me slightly the wrong way since it's usually a discussion of unhealthy eating patterns pushed by parents with their own issues.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

I took over cooking early with only a battered cookbook and pbs cookshows to guide me. My mom would drop me off at the grocery to do the shopping so I had to stretch a dollar and think of how many possabilities this item hadto feed our household of 6. So I have always been an ingredient person. A sack of flour can be a million things. Seperate spices and herbs can be combined to make a world's range of flavors.

I will grow, process, and can/freeze tomatoes, but I also have no problem grabbing a can of crushed tomatoes for a pasta sauce. The big thing for me is knowing what is in it, and of course saving a few pennies never hurts.


Saturday 18th of November 2023

The first time I heard of the concept of "ingredients" vs. "food" in a kitchen was in 2008-2009 when Alexis Stewart had her radio program (Whatever) which mainly existed to poke fun at her mother. Her problem with having ingredients in the Stewart kitchen (or kitchens) was that her mother was too busy to actually cook them for her daughter, or I suppose, to show her how to cook them herself.


Saturday 18th of November 2023

Amusingly the general consensus on TikTok is that kids/teens don’t want ingredient households but adults understand why they exist. I haven’t seen any discussion about morality at all, honestly. And, to answer your question, cheese is considered an ingredient and somehow tortilla chips are too. Microwaved cheese on tortilla chips is the #1 snack of kids in ingredient households, followed by a handful of chocolate chips at a close #2. But I think your potato chips and granola bars except you from being a total ingredient household. It’s mostly just about snacks, not meals.

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