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The Secret of Menu Planning

Home cooking at its best: inspired by the French, Leek and Spinach Quiche.


Wow, it has been quite the busy past two weeks! I’ve been on the road with StarChefs.com, eating my way through Atlanta, and unfortunately too busy for La Vita Cucinare. But luckily, I’m finally all settled back in New York City. And what better time to talk about menu planning than after I’ve just spent eight days eating and drinking at six restaurants a day (I know, best job on Earth!). I’m certainly ready to get back to some good home cooking!

When I was a kid, my mother had a meal calendar that she used to plan each week, including my Dad’s favorites­—beef stroganoff, chili, tacos—and a few dishes my sister and I loved—Chinese sweet-and-sour meatballs and chicken Parmesan. While I can still remember the little square piece of paper she would pencil dish titles onto, I never thought to create a meal plan of my own. Trips to the market have always been more of a lazy stroll, as I imagined the feasts I could prepare during the week. Occasionally I planned out dinners or parties, and went shopping grocery list in hand, but more often then not, shopping has been altogether impromptu.

But a few weeks ago, after realizing that my move to New York has resulted in way too many take-out and restaurant grub sessions (embarrassingly sometimes breakfast, lunch, and dinner!), I decided to take matters into my own hands and cook everything I ate for an entire week. And thus I realized the secret of menu planning. Starting off with a little inspiration from The Kitchn’s Roast Chicken menu, I devised a resourceful menu, and then only spent $90 on groceries, much less than my take-out bills usually add up to. (It did help that I was only cooking for one, as TH was out of town the whole week.)
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