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Really Good Stuff I Already Have

I began the year reflecting on my desire to eat more seasonally and more sustainably. And I'm happy to say that we have definitely improved the sourcing and quality of our diet in the last three months. But with the bumper crops of spring approaching, there is a looming challenge I cannot ignore if I am going to keep this up: I am a compulsive, impulsive produce shopper. And thinking seasonally about food has only made that worse, so afraid am I to miss out on a brief growing season or a particularly good harvest. And I'm no good with a grocery list, either. They only work if you look at them, you see.

As I contemplated the seasonal opening of our local farmers market, with a mixture of apprehension and acquisitive lust, I remembered the system we used when I was a restaurant cook. It was simple. At the end of every night, there was a sheet on the refrigerator with two columns: HAVE and NEED. The prep elements for each dish were listed and after we broke down our stations, we simply jotted down either how much we had or how much we would need for the next day's service. It was simple and effective.

While I don't run my house like a restaurant and the menu here changes daily, I thought that the premise might help me curtail my impulses at the farmer's market and make better use of what I have. Rather than a list of things I need, I wanted a list of things I already have. Because I've found that with food, as with life, when I add up what I have, it far outweighs what I need.

In that spirit, and in aid of those of us who need a little nudge to be mindful of the bounties in our midst, I designed this printable list of "really good stuff I already have." It's meant to be tacked to the refrigerator, scribbled on, and referred to before heading out for a trip to the grocery store or farmers market. I'm planning to laminate mine and add a few adhesive-backed magnets—that way I can use it over and over with a dry erase marker. Less waste! More sustainable (notwithstanding the fact that, yes, the dry erase markers probably have the half-life of enriched uranium. bah)! Yes.

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Reader Comments (6)

Oh my word, this is adorable! A great way to stay organized, especially with the CSA season coming up. One of these days I'll get around to designing a form that I can use for planning. Right now I scribble it on whatever scrap paper is laying around. I make 3 columns. In the first column I write what I have (or need to use). In the middle column I write the name of the recipe (and page number if using a cookbook) and draw arrows from what I have to the recipe. Then in the last column I write "need" and draw arrows back to the recipe. So I can see at a glance what's allocated, what I need, and what I still need to figure out what to do with.

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendy (The Local Cook)

You can use a grease pencil. Like I did when I was a hostess at Islands. The half-life of grease is 1/2(the word) + (the power) to the 10th.

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCourt.

super cute! i keep a piece of paper up on my refrigerator where i scribble all of the things i'll probably miss if i don't remind myself... this is even better!

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersarah b.

So, do you think if I print this out, I'll remember to take into the store?

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjam

Aww, I *love* this idea! How creative and optimistic! I'll have to print one out right away. And link as well. Our farmer's market starts up this month and I am beyond exited. =) Thank you so much!

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Thank you for this great list! I am much like you and would rather create a listing of what I have on hand than what I need. I did this for our deep freeze during an "eat from your pantry challenge" after the holidays and it worked really well. It's true, once you see what you have, the desire for more goes down. Thanks for the inspiration :)

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah @ Mum In Bloom

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