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!
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.
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.
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.
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 brew my daily coffee and add sugar and cream.
I make my own granola.
I’ve made lots of applesauce over the years.
I’ve made countless breadstuffs from scratch.
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
- 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
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!)
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?