THE BLOG
11/15/2013 12:20 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

How to Make a 'To Be Cooked' List

First appeared on Food Riot, by Kit Steinkellner

"TBR List" or "To Be Read List" is a term that gets bandied around a lot in the book world. Of course, home cooks know there is a food equivalent for the TBR List, the TBC, or To Be Cooked List. Whether you keep a rough mental list (me) or a meticulously manicured Excel spreadsheet (someone who is more organized than me and also an all-around better human being), if you see the kitchen as a creative and adventurous space, you've got a running list of recipes you want to get creative and adventurous with.

Below, different methodologies for organizing your TBC list.

1.)The "What's Seasonal?" TBC List

Winter is for soups, summer is for ceviche. Around Christmas you figure out cookie recipes, between Memorial and Labor Day you experiment with your grill. You cater your list to holidays and seasons. Or you cater your list to ingredients that are in season, you farm to table home chef, you. Or both!

2.) The "What's In Your Fridge?" TBC List

Did you get rosemary for those lamb chops you made last week? Mozzarella because it looked pretty in the cheese store window yesterday? Google the ingredient plus "recipes", pick out your favorite, go shopping for what's missing in your kitchen and cook, baby, cook.

3.) The "What's At The Farmer's Market" TBC List

If you've got a good farmer's market in your neighborhood, it's near impossible not to get inspired walking through. I would NEVER have thought to cook dry scallops or octopus tentacles on my own, but they looked so f--ing pretty at the seafood truck, I bought those water-loving critters and figured out how to cook them once I was at home.

4.)The "Pretty, Pretty Cookbook, Pretty, Pretty Food Blog" TBC List

If you find that there is an author of a cookbook or food blog that also happens to be YOUR EATING SOULMATE, just crib her notes like the little kitchen plagiarizer you were born to be. They're doing so much of the hard work for you, all the culling and curating and recipe testing, you just ride their coat tails into good eating!

5.)The "Going to Restaurants and Shamelessly Copying What You Ate At Home" TBC List

If you're a relatively confident home cook, odds are you can have a great meal at a restaurant, go home and google the dish, and find a fascimile you can tweak. This is also great for those of you who travel a lot. Your souvenirs can be ideas of what to cook for dinner when you get home!

6.)The "I Just Got A New Appliance and I'm Going To Cook My Money's Worth" TBC List

You get a Dutch Oven at the flea market. You look up Dutch Oven recipes and you cook your booty through them! I just ordered a Spaetzle maker for six bucks on Amazon... I am making Spaetzle THE DAY IT COMES IN THE MAIL.

7.) The "This House is a Democracy" TBC List

"I have three ideas for things I want to cook for dinner soon- let me tell you what they are and you tell me what you want to eat first" is a sentence I say to my husband... several times a week. I get too excited about too many recipes and I need the other eater in my house to tiebreak!

8.) "A Combination of All the Above Lists" TBC List

It's probably a little obvious at this point that I use ALL these different methods to make my ever-growing and changing TBC List. I could never stick to one methodology! There are just too many ways to be inspired as a home chef. The kitchen is such a fun room.

How do YOU decide what to cook for dinner? How do you make your TBC List? Spill (pun intended) in the comments!

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