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Did You Panic Shop? Here’s What To Do…

December 8, 2020
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Did You Panic Shop in 2020?

Panic Shopping. It was a thing in 2020.

Did you load shelf stable items into your cart with abandon? Pile boxes of pasta into the darkest corners of your pantry? Bring home items or ingredients that you don’t routinely cook? Or, purchase whatever was available during the early days of lockdown where shelves were empty and now you have no idea what to do with them?

It’s ok. Many of us did.

Now it’s time to reckon with these items, do a little end of year inventory and clean up so we don’t find some of these items over a year old with no plan to ever eat them. No plan to eat them inevitably means throwing them in the trash.

Here’s What To Do:

Get a paper and pen (or your favorite list making app or a spreadsheet). Pull everything out of the pantry and storage hidey holes that you have been storing for too long or don’t know what to eat. Write it down. 

Divide the list into two categories: 1) things you will use and know how to use (perhaps canned tomatoes or spaghetti) and 2) things that you aren’t comfortable with or will not eat under normal circumstances (perhaps dried beans or prepared canned soups). 

Now take List One and check for any problems with longer storage, such as rusted cans, torn boxes, or anything that might be expiring soon. Write down this final list and post it on the fridge. Use these items in your upcoming meal plans over the next 6-10 weeks to run through them at a normal rate.

List Two is a little more challenging. Divide these things into a donate pile and a “I’d love to cook that but I’m not quite sure what to do” pile. Move the donate into a bag and do a quick search of your local shelf stable food drive. There should be plenty this time of year! Get it in the hands of someone who needs extra food as soon as you can.

You will be left with a list of “Aspirational Items” – these are foods that seemed reasonable but not in your regular rotation and need a little love and guidance. Here are some ideas:


Dried beans seem to be a common ingredient people purchased and didn’t know what to do with. They are VERY worth it and honestly quite easy since you’re likely still at home.

Here’s how to cook beans. This works for Black Beans, Pinto, Navy, Garbanzo, Kidney, Cannellini, Lima, etc, but they will all take a different amount of time to cook so keep your eye on them. Black beans that have been soaked will take only about 30 minutes, garbanzo beans about 25-30 and white beans will still take upwards of an hour. 

  1. Soak beans in a large pot overnight (cover them very deeply with plain, cool water – you’ll want about 4-6 inches above the level of the beans).
  2. Next day, drain and refill the pot with water to cover the top of the beans by about 3 inches. Add half an onion, a whole carrot and perhaps celery. You could add bay leaves or garlic cloves too.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Strain off any foamy impurities that will rise to the top. 
  4. Stir occasionally and make sure the water stays above the beans, you can cover partially if needed. You can add more water but ideally, we want the bean liquid to thicken and reduce down, adding more water will ruin this effect but in a pinch, its ok to add more.
  5. When the beans taste fairly tender, you could probably eat them but they still have a bit too much crunch, add salt. 
  6. You can also add spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic and onion powder. You could add tomato paste or chopped jalapeno. 
  7. Continue simmering until beans are tender but not falling apart. Bonus points for stirring in a few tablespoons of butter or coconut oil to make the bean liquid extra rich.

If you have an instant pot you can also cook beans in there quickly and easily. 


Once you have cooked beans let’s eat them! Beans will start to smell if they’re in the fridge too long, so you do need a plan. And they will smell TERRIBLE. I’m talking, one of the top 5 worst smells in the kitchen kind of terrible. If you can’t eat them within 3 days or so, freeze portions of about 2 cups and some liquid in jars or bags. Label them and date them. They’ll last frozen for another year! You can have covid beans safely in 2022. 

Try these Ends+Stems Bean Recipes:


If you have any items you can’t figure out – message me! Post a note in the Ends+Stems Facebook Group and tag me (Alison Mountford), I’ll respond!

Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.

Let Your Friends Try This Recipe!