The Failed Bento Experiment

No, this has nothing to do with Japanese meal boxes.

Also, while I do not believe in being one of those bloggers who posts about how they're not posting, I didn't actually intend to accidentally take almost all of November off from writing about food. And, indeed, if you enjoyed the live tweets from two of the last three weeks of Next Iron Chef, technically, I didn't take the month off. That said, the content-bereftitude here was largely the result of this being at the bottom of the time/energy priority list, so when work gets nuts or I spend a week with a cold...

The good news is, the delay has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bento Experiment has been largely a failure. What is Bento? Bento is a general-purpose database program for the iPad. It's five bucks, and it's very, very good. It's the best of the bunch by far, and believe me, I tried a bunch of free pieces of shit and read a lot of reviews to determine that. My plan was to use Bento to actually track what food I had on hand.

See, now that I have a big fridge, a big freezer, and a chest freezer in the garage, actually keeping track of what I have on hand, and what I've run out of, is slightly more than I can keep in my prodigious head.

Bento is easy enough to use - I was able to set up categories, and use drop-down fields to keep the text entry to an absolute minimum. So what went wrong?

I think I tried to keep too much in there. By tracking things, like common vegetables, that I didn't really need to track, I made more work for myself in terms of updating every time I shopped or cooked. The fact is, I always have a pretty good sense of what I have in my crisper drawers. Sure, sometimes I think I have some onions in cupboard storage, and have to run to Cub to get some so I can finish slow-braising some pork shoulder in green chile sauce (that's today's project), but I never forget I have vegetables, or where I put them.

So I'm thinking of re-doing the inventory, and this time limiting it to two categories - frozen raw meats, and what I call "long-term leftovers", the various frozen jars and bags of sauces, mashes, sides, taco meats, and whatnot that I've tucked away for a rainy day. Those are the things I need to know about. Those are the things I need to remind myself of when I'm at Costco, or too tired to cook from scratch.

So I figure in the next week or so, I'll give it another try, and without having to remember to update every time I use half a bunch of cilantro, I should be able to keep it current and useful.