January 12


What to eat when you don’t know what to eat?

By Mashav Shelef

You’ve definitely been there. You’re kinda hungry but not motivated to do anything about it. You’re staring at the insides of your fridge, and it’s staring right back at you; nothing sparks that sense of joy in you. Maybe you’re not that hungry. You close the fridge door, only to open it again thirty seconds later, trying to find something that can satisfy this elusive craving for SOMETHING. You twitch your nose and wonder again, what should I eat? You end up just snacking on a couple of Trader Joe’s seasonal cookies, a bag of chips or worse – ordering an Uber Eats. This time Uber or the cookies won, and you feel defeated. But now, how can you make a better decision next time? How do you make up your mind about what to eat when you don’t know what to eat? This post is for you.

Empty Fridge and Growling Stomach

The Struggle Is Real

Many people struggle with deciding what to eat, especially when they are feeling uninspired or have limited options. For example, you may have a pantry full of ingredients but still feel unsure of what to make for dinner. When it comes to deciding what to eat, sometimes it can take time to figure out where to start. It can be overwhelming and daunting. But by exploring different options and understanding the psychological factors involved in making healthy eating choices, it is possible to solve this puzzling issue in no time.

What NOT to eat

Knowing what not to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat. When you’re feeling lost and asking yourself what to eat when you don’t know what to eat, it’s best to avoid processed, fried, and sugary foods, which will give you an immediate energy boost but later lead to fatigue and unhealthy weight gain. Instead, opt for lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, such as beans, broccoli, and quinoa, which promote satiety and an overall self-care routine. Though it may be hard to stay away from those tempting sugary treats and their tantalizing flavors, your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it!

It’s always easy to reach for junk food

Assess your hunger level

Before deciding what to eat, consider how hungry you are. Are you ravenous, or could you wait a bit to eat? This can help guide your food choices. For example, if you are starving, a bowl of hearty soup or a filling sandwich may be more appealing than a light salad. On the other hand, if you are only slightly hungry, a snack like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts may be sufficient to hold you over until your next meal.

Super hungry after a whole day in the sun, in Jazzfest New Orleans

Identify your cravings

Do you have a specific craving for something sweet, salty, or savory? This can help narrow down your options and lead you to a satisfying meal. For example, if you are craving something sweet, a bowl of fruit with yogurt or a smoothie might hit the spot. A bag of chips or a bowl of popcorn might do the trick if you are craving something salty. And if you are craving something savory, a bowl of pasta or a grilled cheese sandwich might be just what you need.

The ice cream truck craving is real!

Consider your nutrition needs

Think about the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Do you need to get more protein, fiber, or healthy fats? Choose foods that will help you meet your nutrition goals. For example, if you are trying to get more protein in your diet, you might choose a meal with chicken, fish, or beans as the main ingredient. If you are looking to increase your fiber intake, you might choose a bowl of whole grain cereal or a salad with lots of vegetables. And if you are trying to get more healthy fats, you might opt for an avocado-based dish or a smoothie made with nuts or seeds.

Try to incorporate something that your body needs

Keep it simple

If you are feeling overwhelmed by too many choices, try to keep it simple by choosing just a few ingredients to work with. This can help you create a meal without feeling overwhelmed. For example, if you have a package of ground beef and a bag of frozen vegetables in your freezer, you could make a quick and easy stir-fry by cooking the beef and vegetables together in a pan with a little bit of oil and your favorite seasonings.

Simple sandwich can do the trick

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things and be creative with your food choices. You never know what you might discover that you enjoy eating! For example, if you are feeling adventurous, you might try making a dish you have never had before, such as a curry or a stir-fry with unfamiliar ingredients. Or, you could mix and match different flavors and textures in a salad or sandwich to create a unique and satisfying meal.

The best dishes are created from the most random elements in hand

Think ahead for next time

If you’re too hungry to make a good food choice for your nearest meal, that’s okay, don’t beat yourself up for reaching for a processed snack or ordering this delivery. When we’re hungry, we can’t really make excellent decisions. Better think ahead of time and plan for the next time the hunger strikes you to avoid “Hangry” decisions. A good way to get started is to research and explore different types of food. Reading food blogs or watching cooking shows can give you an array of ideas that you might like to try. Shopping for recipes at the grocery store can be an exciting and fun way to discover new meals. And, if you’re feeling especially daring, you can challenge yourself to experience something entirely new and different. 

Ultimately, no matter what you decide is best for you, making thoughtful and conscious decisions about what you eat is key to a healthy lifestyle.

Cookbooks are excellent inspiration

Handy Grocery List

Check what’s in your fridge and pantry and create something new

With this table, you can quickly see which items are in the fridge and which are in the pantry, which you can use to plan your meals and snacks. The additional items on the table can be used to make a quick breakfast or lunch such as oatmeal with fresh berries or a veggie and tuna pasta. It’s important to have a well-stocked pantry and fridge so that you can prepare nutritious meals and snacks at a moment’s notice.

Fridge ItemsPantry Items
Greek yogurtWhole wheat crackers
Fresh berriesAlmonds and other nuts
Baby carrotsDried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
Cherry tomatoesPopcorn (plain, air-popped)
HummusWhole wheat bread or pita bread
Hard-boiled eggsOatmeal
CucumbersChia seeds
Grilled chicken breast or turkey breastQuinoa
Tuna or salmon in waterFlax seeds
Cottage cheeseWhole wheat pasta
Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley)Brown rice
AvocadosCanned beans
Peanut butter or almond butterCanned tomatoes
Dark chocolateSun-dried tomatoes
EdamameOlive oil
This meal is my favorite for a quick lunch and I can probably have it twice a week and still not get sick of it.

Mashav Shelef

I’m a trained chef, a food writer, a culinary traveler, a food explorer and a mom. My mission in life is to inspire and motivate people by helping them experience life through food.

Mashav Shelef

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