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Dee McLelland: Recipes can take you home again
Dee McLelland new

I’m a grocery store guy.

I always have been ever since my grandmother and mom taught us how to cook when we were little. It always amazed me how each store had the same things, but you could always find something a little different as well. I had a great deal of years where I traveled a ton and would always find my way to a grocery store when I was in a new place for any period of time.

I would concoct recipes from the different things I found and as I almost always had a kitchen in my room it was fun to come up with new things to eat without going to a restaurant.

Now that restaurants have been knocked out of our social life, at least for now, I have found going to the grocery store has been as much of a chore as it has been fun. I typically would go to the store every day and then cook something for that particular night. Now I have to plan a week’s worth of meals and cut my shopping down to a single time a week. Of course that’s what we have been asked to do, but I have found myself losing some of my creativity in the kitchen.

Instead of buying something on the spur of the moment after watching one of my cooking shows, I have to plan things out. I have found myself going back to tried and true recipes which I know I like, are pretty easy to cook and can last for several days. But I have tried something new the last two weeks and it involves some of the “hoarding” we have been seeing.

We all know the stores have been hit very hard for certain items, toilet tissue, rice, meats and other items, so I have made it almost a game to look for items which no one else seems to want and make a meal out of them.

When’s the last time you had Spam? Apparently that hasn’t been a top seller recently. You throw some of my homemade macaroni and cheese and some English peas along with some fried Spam and you eat like a king.

When’s the last time you had old time Sloppy Joes? Cut up your onions some green bell peppers and some tomato sauce and some other spices and you have the great taste of a Sloppy Joe just like when you were a kid!

I’m sure everyone has been trying to keep their family fed and at least somewhat engaged in their meals, but it has been a pleasant distraction for me to look for items to make some of my recent recipes. I have been going early before the store gets crowded and then out as quickly as possible so that I’m not there when the expected rush hits. I can sometimes spend an hour just grocery shopping looking at everything and since that has gone by the wayside, the one thing I can do is figure new meals with odd or even old time recipes.

I made chicken and rice the other night in my crock pot or slow cooker if you will, with mushroom soup and onions and it brought back great memories of mom and my grandmother. It was comforting to know I could make something I know they did thousands of times, but it also made me feel good that I was able to do it with things that were abundant at the store and apparently not anything other folks were clamoring for. I’m sure there will be some recipes that moms and dads have made during this different time that will remain part of their regular meal schedule so maybe we can look at that as a silver lining.

If you see me, say “Hey!”

Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. He can be reached at or 876-0156.

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