Day 10 of happiness – getting in control with food inventories

egg-toastFor day 10 of happiness month I’m talking about feeling in control.

I’m a control freak by nature, but rather than see this as a bad thing, I welcome it. I choose to change the words ‘control freak’, which are pretty emotive and negative sounding to ‘enjoying certainty‘.

What’s wrong with feeling organised, having your home in order or knowing where your car keys are?

This week, as you might remember, we were challenged to use up the food we already have in our homes.

This helps us reduce food waste, reduce food packaging and stops any out of date food languishing in the back of the cupboards.

It also helps us save money whilst protecting the environment. Sounds like the perfect challenge to me!

One of the easiest ways to stay on top of the food you have is to write an inventory of what’s in store. This allows my need for certainty to get what she wants AND it helps me reduce food waste – one of my bugbears.

I mentioned, in my last post, some key areas of your home that you should check out:

  • Refrigerator
  • Fruit bowl
  • Vegetable rack
  • Food you are growing outside
  • Packets of stuff shoved at the back of the cupboards
  • Frozen food that has no label or has been in there for months

I’ve divided my inventory into food that needs using in a couple of days, food that needs using in a week, and my ‘help!’ list – 5 foods which I have in the house and don’t normally use – I’d love your ideas for them please!

Any other tins and packets or foods which are still ok in the freezer I’ve not listed; that would be far too arduous 😉

Food which needs using within 2 days

1 avocado
1 Peeled orange (peel had been used in baking)
1 portion mutton casserole
500ml Lamb stock
1/2 tin Baked beans
Handful raspberries
Small portion cucumber
1 kg New potatoes
1 fresh tomato
mixed salad leaves
1 banana
1/2 tin chick peas

Food which needs using within a week

Courgettes on the plant
Runner and dwarf beans on the plan
5 avocados
10 eggs
1 grapefruit
2 oranges
Litre milk
15 apples
1/2 bag pistachios
4 baking potatoes
2 beetroot
1 bag carrots
Bag broad beans
4 pots yogurt
2 heads broccoli
Fresh olives
fresh mutton leg
1 grapefruit

Gimme the recipe! foods

Wholemeal plain flour (I always buy plain white flour; have tried this in one recipe but it was a failure)
Large tin mango puree
Tin butter beans
Tin coconut cream
Jar molasses

Here’s some of the meals we’ve had since writing the inventory:

Chickpea curry:


hard boiled eggs:


Vegetable rice with avocado:


Roast mutton with veggies from the garden (used the lamb stock to make the gravy):


Mashed avocado spread on ryvita with olives, salad and pistachios:


One of our favourites – oats soaked in yogurt, topped with raspberries:


cheese on crackers with mixed salad leaves, tomato, cucumber and an apple:


Please help me with your recipe ideas for Wholemeal plain flour, mango puree, butter beans, coconut cream and molasses!


  1. Small Footprints on August 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I like that … “enjoying certainty”! I feel so much better when my life is reasonably organized. Oh, it’s not that I can’t be spontaneous … but there is something peaceful and “freeing” when things are organized … it’s like I don’t have to think about them because they are as they should be.

    Okay, ideas: We’ve found that mixing Wholemeal plain flour with other flour works better than using it by itself. It tends to be “tough” alone but mixed in with other flours give one the fiber without the toughness.

    We love mangoes … I’d use the mango puree in a smoothie, heated and drizzled over pancakes/waffles, as a topping for ice cream, in a curry dish or added to a cake recipe (just adjust the other liquids).

    Butter beans are one of my favorite foods. An elderly woman taught me how to cook them. She said to fry a little garlic in some olive oil, toss in a little oregano, salt and pepper and then add the beans, tossing to coat them with all the great flavors and warm them through. Mmm! The key is not to overcook them as they have a lot starch and will get mushy. We typically include them in our “Buddha Bowl” which is a bowl with rice, kale (or any greens available) and beans … with a drizzle of ginger sauce over the top. Very calming food and great for one’s liver and digestive tract.

    I use coconut cream in a really great cauliflower & fava bean curry dish (would be happy to send you the recipe if you’d like).

    Molasses … I don’t use it much but it’s supposed to be really healthy. My mom mixed it into her baked bean dishes for that slightly sweet flavor.

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Mrs Green on August 15, 2011 at 6:24 am

    @Small Footprints: I absolutely agree with your ideas about feeling peaceful and free when things are organised. And that’s a good thing, right?!

    Thanks for all your lovely ideas, I especially like the sound of the butter beans.

  3. Rachel on August 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Wholemeal flour? Make bread! The other things on your help list are things I’d have in the back of the cupboard for years, too. Butter beans could be used to pad out a stew, but I think Small Footprints’ suggestion sounds a lot nicer! I think molasses is much the same as black treacle, which I use in Christmas cake, but not much else, so one tin lasts me quite a few years. None of these things will go off any time soon, so if they’re not getting in the way, they might as well sit there until you come across that Indian recipe that calls for coconut cream and mango, at which point you’ll be delighted that you have those things at the back of the cupboard!

    Speaking of shelf lives, unless those they’ve been in the house for quite a while already, I’d question some of the things on your ‘within a week’ list. Eggs, citrus fruit and root vegetables all last considerably longer than that. I’m busy harvesting my potatoes, which I expect to see me through the winter, if properly stored. Pistachio nuts will certainly last longer, especially if they’re salted. Use-by dates are a tyranny invented to keep us shopping!

  4. Mrs Green on August 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

    @Rachel: Hmmm, my bread made with wholemeal flour has never worked out and it’s been inedible – more the sort of texture you’d build a house from than eat. I think I’ll just gradually add it in a 3:1 ratio to crumble toppings. You make a great point about the longevity of food: The eggs, citrus and root veggies were only put on the ‘use within a week’ because they’d already been hanging around; I reckon usually to get 3 weeks out of these foods.

  5. Alissa on November 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    If you’ve still got the molasses lying around, you could try making a delicious molasses Parkin for bonfire night?

  6. Mrs Green on November 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    @Alissa: thank you so much; I real your delicious recipe and am itching to try it out!