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  • Much like writing a grocery list before going to the store, food supply ledgers were created for similar organizational purposes. Ask students why they think this information was recorded. Who would need to have this information? What does the type and amount of food recorded in this ledger suggest about the wealth of the household?
  • Ask students to describe the types of food on this list. Which foods are familiar to them? Which are not? What kinds of foods are not on the list? Remember that most food consumed during the eighteenth century had to be in season and local to the area. Many of Washington’s large entertaining events would be at Presidential Levees. Using Mount Vernon’s Digital Encyclopedia entry on Presidential Levees and Mount Vernon’s recipe web page, have students create their own menu for one of Washington’s weekly Presidential Levees. What foods would they include on their food supply ledger based on the function and recipe list?
  • Pair this document with Mount Vernon’s lesson plan on “20 Questions for Reading and Evaluating Historic Recipes.” Have students read over the Food Supply Ledger first to get an overview of the different types of food the Washington household consumed. Then have students complete the worksheet to read and analyze specific historic recipes, including Martha Washington’s Great Cake recipe. 

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The Presidential household in Philadelphia was a bustling place. Weekly dinners and receptions hosted by George and Martha Washington required a large amount of food. This food ledger details the food ordered and the associated costs for one week in the Presidential household.