Kitchen Wisdom
Kitchen Wisdom

Every week of planning and cooking meals leads me to a new revelation. This week I’ve thought more about how the routine of planning contains me. I operate under the rhythm of what I need to do and find peace in my routine. For example, when I run out of an  ingredient I avoid rushing to the supermarket to buy more. Instead, I write the ingredient on a list and wait until my next shopping day to make the purchase. The fact it’s on the list means I don’t have to use my brain power to “remember”. In addition, my shopping trip becomes much more complete because I’m exchanging money for what I need and not what I think I need.…

Fresh Cranberries and Flowers
Fresh Cranberries and Flowers

Check out this neat idea of using fresh cranberries in a flower arrangement. The photographer is my sister Kaye. She’s the leader of our clan  – the elder sister of 8 children. She’s always had a flair for color and photography and now enjoys taking the time to pursue her photography more through a blog. I somehow feel compelled to reveal this too – Kaye enjoys food and cooking. We spend time on the phone discussing cookbooks, recipes, and food. Let the good times roll.…

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Makes One 10-inch Bundt cake
I believe a good coffee cake is one of the best baked goods to have in your bag of tricks. I sometimes bake, and take, this moist, streusel-packed coffee cake to a friend who is in need of nourishment after a death in the family, the birth of a baby, or as a homemade gift. I hosted a New Year’s Day brunch for my family this year and the entire coffee cake was devoured – bit by bit.
My first experience with Sour Cream Coffee Cake was back in 1989 at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My sister Barbara lived in Ann Arbor for a short time while she was getting her Ph. D. in English at Michigan (The University of Michigan, that is). The best male cook I know and I enjoyed driving down to Ann Arbor from Midland, where we lived at the time, to sleep on her floor, wake up and go to Zingerman’s, shop at the “original” Borders bookstore, and sip cappuccino at our favorite coffee house. What good times those were.

 
Brown Sugar Streusel
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream
Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2, or milk

 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan with non-stick baking spray with flour, or grease and flour pan.
Make the streusel by placing the brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons butter in a bowl. Use your fingers to press the ingredients together until it forms clumps. Mix in the nuts. Set the streusel aside.
For the cake, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well with a whisk to blend the ingredients.
With an electric mixer, cream the 3/4 cup butter and granulated sugar together for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time until well blended. Stir in the sour cream and blend well. Add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing on low just until blended.
Spoon a scant 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and spread. Top with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon on another 1/3 of the batter and spread gently if necessary. Top with remaining streusel. Spread remaining batter on top of the streusel. Bake for about 55 to 60 minutes until a thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn cake out of pan and let cool completely. Mix together, in a measuring cup with a spout, …

Surimi = Imitation Crabmeat
Surimi = Imitation Crabmeat

My cooking and ingredient knowledge got ahead of me last month when I posted the following surimi recipes:

Creamy Surimi Dip

Surimi Salad

I sat at lunch yesterday with my mother and 4 of my sisters discussing what “surimi” was. “It’s fake crab meat made with a white fish like pollock or hake”, I told them. “Ohhhh, so surimi is imitation crab meat”, one sister replied. DIONG – Lightbulb moment. On this blog I used the word from borrowed from the Japanese language – surimi- instead of a term we all might be more familiar with – imitation crab meat. I apologize if this confused anyone. The recipes are tasty none the less.…

Happy New Year's Eve!
Happy New Year's Eve!

I made my weekly trip to the supermarket this morning. I went early and stocked up on food for the weekend and the upcoming school week starting January 5th. It was a little bit of a challenge thinking about food for New Year’s Eve, New Year’s day, football bowl games, and school lunches all at the same time but I gave it my best shot.

I hope your Christmas season has been filled with family, food, and memorable times. Grab your camera and take some pictures – for you’ll never pass this way again. Happy New Year’s Eve to all and thanks for visiting my blog. Knowing you’re out there reading my posts makes my day. I hope you’ve enjoyed my recipes, tips, and bits of kitchen wisdom all in hopes of making us all healthier through food and cooking.…

Mad About Nuts

Research supports that nuts are all they’re cracked up to be. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has an approved qualified health claim stating, “Scientific evidence suggests eating 1  1/2 ounces of most nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”  That’s some news I can live with. Walnuts also contain the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids  and are rich in MUFA’s (monounsaturated fatty acids).  My favorites nuts, walnuts and almonds, along with the other seven varieties of tree nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews , macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and hazelnuts hit the right flavor profile with cooks and snackers alike. 

Nuts are crunchy, rich in flavor, sometimes salty, promote satiety, and with respect to nutrition they are terrific packages of protein, fiber, and as discussed above, healthy fats.No wonder the FDA deemed nuts healthy and snacking on a handful of nuts every day good for the heart. Here are some creative ways to include more nuts in your diet:

Breakfast– Sprinkle chopped nuts on yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or mix in cream cheese to spread on a bagel. Add chopped macadamias or pistachios to your favorite bread, pancake, waffle or muffin recipe.

Snacks – Nuts are perfect as a tasty snack between meals, and research has shown that they may keep you full longer. For better portion control, divide your favorite nuts into 1  1/2 ounce portions and store them in individual bags. Grab a bag of nuts on your way out the door, or keep several bags in the car or our desk for easy snacking. When snacking at home, mix toasted nuts with popcorn or trail mix to boost the nutrition content.  A bowl of whole nuts in the shell becomes an edible centerpiece or table decoration. Place a nutcracker and a dish for the shells nearby and soon you may find your family, or guests, sitting around the nut bowl, cracking and eating away.

Appetizers – Top softened Brie or Camembert cheese with chopped pistachios for a simple, elegant treat. Add your favorite nuts to any cheese and cracker platter, or as above, simply serve them straight up in a bowl.

Soups – Sprinkle chopped nuts on a bowl of soup for added flavor and texture. For example, garnish potato soup with finely chopped pecans or hearty split pea with hazelnuts.

Salads – Restaurants often serve creative salads with various nuts and fruit. Do the same at home by adding whole, sliced, or chopped nuts to your favorite salad recipes. For instance, toss pecans or walnuts with blue cheese or Gorgonzola to add zip to a spinach salad, or garnish chicken salad with slivered almonds.

Vegetables – Nutty vinaigrettes made with chopped hazelnuts or Brazils add pizzazz to steamed vegetables… even the pickiest of eaters may give vegetables a try when dressed with nut vinaigrette.

Pasta – Pine nuts have always been …

Creamy Surimi Dip

Make about 3 cups

I back with another surimi recipe and I’m pretty convinced surimi is one of the least expensive, freshest tasting alternatives to canned tuna or salmon. It’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, too, which is a good thing. Remember my first recipe using surimi?  This “crab” dip proves quite tasty with sliced fresh vegetables, whole-grain crackers, and pita or bagel chips.

One 12-ounce package surimi chunks
One 8-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup capers
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon dried dill

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse about 5 times. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix until well blended but remains slightly chunky.…

Arugula Pesto

Makes enough for one pound of pasta

 

In the middle of winter fresh basil gets a titch hard for me to find. There’s none in my garden and small plastic boxes filled with basil cost a bit more than I want to pay. Plus, in my opinion, fresh basil is one of those herbs best picked and used on a hot summer day and it’s anything but summer right now. The outdoor temperature hovers around 14 degrees F and I’m sipping hot tea.

 

With that in mind, I’m heading to my kitchen to make a batch of pesto with some baby arugula I found at my local supermarket. Ground to a paste and seasoned with the ever-popular, heart-healthy walnut, and a small amount of garlic, arugula adds the bright green color and peppery bite of basil, without the licorice overtones. Served over hot pasta this quick and easy pesto should make a filling meal on a cold winter night.

 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup walnut oil (or 3 tablespoons canola oil plus 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil)

3 cups lightly packed arugula

A few wedges of fresh lemon

 

Place the Parmesan, walnuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and walnut oil in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is finely ground. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the arugula. Process again until the arugula is incorporated. Serve over hot pasta with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and more grated Parmesan, if desired.

 

Double Ginger Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

 

Again, a thankful nod to Bob, my favorite brother-in-law baker. He baked these cookies a few years ago and brought them to our family Christmas gathering. I loved the flavor and texture, not to mention the extra bits of crystallized ginger mixed into the dough. On another note, this recipe uses canola oil and no butter for those of you who may be looking for a butter-free cookie. The use of oil also makes the mixing much easier – all you need is a bowl and a spoon.

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup canola oil

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup dark molasses

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 egg white, lightly beaten and set aside, for garnish

about 1/2 cup coarse sugar crystals, for garnish 

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl stir together with a whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl stir together the oil, brown sugar, and molasses until well blended. Add the whole egg and continue stirring until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture and the chopped ginger.

With a small cookie scoop or dampened hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Brush each ball lightly with egg white and roll in the sugar to lightly coat. Place the balls of dough 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until the tops of the cookies are set and crackled, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes and then transfer to wire cooling racks to completely cool. The cookies firm as they cool. To store, place in an airtight container with a piece of wax paper between the layers of cookies.

 

Oven Baked Chex Mix Recipe
Oven Baked Chex Mix Recipe

Makes about 12 cups

What’s your favorite tidbit to pick out of the Chex Mix?

It’s a good thing I clipped this recipe from the cereal box a few years ago. I noticed this year (and maybe this was true in recent years too) the recipe for Chex Mix included only a set of microwave directions. I’m a little funny about using the microwave to “bake” something. I’ve never tried making this in the microwave, but knowing what I know about roasting or baking I predict Chex Mix baked in an oven tastes better than Chex Mix stirred in the microwave. It does take a little longer, but that’s a wash in my opinion, because either way you have to cool the mix before eating.  If you want  microwave instructions just look on the back of a Chex cereal box. By the way, this recipe works perfectly fine with a store-brand Chex-type cereal if you so desire.

6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup bagel chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In an ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in the oven. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir in chex cereals, mixed nuts, pretzels, and bagel chips until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container.


Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green, RDN, LD coaches first-time cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. 

Would you like to write a cookbook, but feel alone in the pre-publication phase of writing?

Are you stuck thinking about your cookbook idea or has you project fizzled?

Do you feel overwhelmed with publishing options and the recipes, photography, and publishing process?

I’ve been there. I know first-hand that there’s not a lot of support for first-time cookbook authors who don’t have an agent or a publisher yet.  That’s why I started my work as a cookbook writing coach.

Here are a few resources for you as you venture into the world of cookbook writing: 

Checklist
An 11-point checklist that helps you answer the question, “Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?”

Cookbook Writing Workbook

What Is A Cookbook Coach? 

10 Reasons to Hire A Cookbook Coach

 

 …

Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen rolled and cut sugar cookies (depends on the size of the cutter)

Big Note: This dough needs about 2 hours in the refrigerator to chill, so plan accordingly

I give my brother-in-law Bob all the credit for introducing me to this recipe. The cookies made with this dough are crisp, buttery, and sweet. I find the dough easy to roll and re-roll. We always use confectioners’ sugar for dusting the countertop before rolling, and then cut the dough with our favorite shaped cutters.  The confectioners’ sugar works beautifully to prevent the dough from sticking to the countertop, prevents adding more flour to the dough which can make the dough tough, and of course the sugar adds a rich, sweetness to the outer surface of the cookies.

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the coutertop

Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together several times with a whisk to thoroughly blend. Set aside. With a mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until light in color and fluffy in texture.  Add the egg and milk and contine beating to combine well. On low speed, or using a strong wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter. Remove the dough from the bowl in 3 parts and wrap each 1/3 of dough in plastic wrap and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick foil, release side up.Generously rub the countertop or area where you will roll the dough with confectioners’ sugar.  Take 1 disc of dough out of the refrigerator.  Roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Move the dough around and check underneath to be sure it isn’t sticking.  Cut into desired shapes and sprinkle with colored sugar or other sprinkly decorations if desired.  Place at least 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 7 to 9  minutes or until cookies just start to turn brown around the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.  Serve as is or frost as desired.  If there are any left, store in an airtight container for up to one week.…

School's Out
School's Out

It’s official – school is out for 2 full weeks due to the upcoming Christmas holiday. We’re headed into a time where everyone wants to stay up later, wear their pajamas longer, leave their rooms a littler messier, and eat a few more cookies – maybe even for breakfast. I’ve been cooking my normal meals, but today had hoped to make the dough for our gingerbread house and make the ever famous Chex Mix. Well.. instead I prepared food for the North American feast at my kids school, and took some time to vacuum, and mop the kitchen floor. Believe it or not, the vacuuming and mopping alone makes me feel more peaceful as we head into two glorious weeks of vacation from school, routine, and homework.  These are the days I long for. Now we just need some snow.…

20 Food Trends for 2009

I thought you’d like to see what’s hot, and what’s not, in the world of food for 2009 as reported by the National Restaurant Association in their Chef Survey: What’s hot in 2009.  I find #5 fascinating – fabricating new cuts of meat. Taking the same ol’ cow or pig and with different butchering techniques new, and many times better, cuts of meat are identified and often become quite popular, like this more popular Flat Iron Steak.

1. Locally grown produce

2. Bite-size/mini desserts

3. Organic produce

4. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes

5. New/fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, bone-in Tuscan veal chop)

6. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items

7. Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

8. Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum

9. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor

10. Sustainable seafood

11. Nutrition/health (e.g. low-fat, reduced sodium, antioxidants, high-fiber)

12. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious

13. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)

14. Artisanal cheeses

15. Exotic fruit (e.g. durian, passion fruit, dragon fruit, guava)

16. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, customized to specific dishes)

17. Micro-vegetables/micro-greens

18. Organic wine

19. Dessert flights/combos/platters

20. Free-range poultry/pork…

Surimi Salad

12 ounces surimi pieces
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning
Black pepper to taste

Chop surimi into small chunks and place in a bowl. Mix in the celery, shallots, capers, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and creole seasoning. Add black pepper to taste. Serve chilled.…

Smoky Spiced Nuts

Yield 1  1/2 pounds

I like adding smoky flavor with smoked paprika not liquid smoke. For a spicer nut increase the cayenne pepper to 1/4 teaspoon. This recipe doubles well, but be sure to bake on two baking sheets in order to acheive the proper crunchiness.

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
8 ounces whole almonds
8 ounces pecan halves
8 ounces walnut halves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until very foamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted from the egg foam. Fold in the Worcestershire Sauce, paprika, and cayenne. Stir in the nuts and butter, coating the nuts well. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Immediately scrape the nuts from the pan while hot and spread on a sheet of foil until cool. Break into clusters or into individual nuts. Store tightly covered for up to 2 weeks.…

The Baking Begins

My holiday kitchen is officially open. Our Fraser Fur, fresh from Fries Brothers, stands bare waiting for its decorations. Behind me, the pantry overflows with nuts, spices, chocolate, flour, sugar, and sprinkles. Then there’s our refrigerator giving its all to keep the butter, eggs, and nog chilled. As we make our way through the next few weeks I’ll share favorite holiday recipes, many like these Smoky Spiced Nuts I make only once a year. That once a year is now.…

Winter Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 8 to 12

This recipe calls for 6 cups of cooked wheat berries, although 6 cups of another cooked grain such as brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley, or bulgur can be substituted for the wheat berries. Be aware that the cooking times for whole grains vary. The procedures and cooking times for other whole grains can be found at the Whole Grains Council .

Place the wheat berries in a large saucepan and with enough water to cover the berries by a few inches. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Taste and see if the wheat berry is cooked. You want a soft, but still chewy texture. If desired, cover and cook for 15 to 30 more minutes until the desired texture is reached. Drain off the water and allow the wheat berries to cool to room temperature.

2 cups wheat berries
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Meanwhile, combine dried fruit, carrot, celery, apple, parsley, scallion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce, tossing thoroughly to mix. Stir in the cooled wheat berries and add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator until served.…

Deck The Halls With Whole Grains

If you’re like me you’ve seen, and perhaps even eaten, way too much sugar over the past few months. From Halloween treats, to Pumpkin and Mincemeat pies, I can safely say that fall surrounds us with a multitude of sweets. We’re all fully aware that Christmas lurks around the corner, as do more sugar-laden- cookie tins, dessert buffets, and Christmas stockings. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll bake my share of cookies, but right now I’m craving something to eat that’s savory, wholesome, crunchy and colorful. Is that too much to ask?

In case you haven’t heard, whole grains are a darling of the nutrition world. Now for the fine print. Imagine that I’m reading this real fast, and you can barely understand me:

1. Whole grains (the seed of a grass) contain no added chemicals, preservatives, salt or sugar.

2, Whole grains contain all of the nutrients nature intended for them to contain plus a multitude of B-vitamins, minerals, beneficial enzymes, insoluable and soluable fiber, a low-glycemic index and many phytochemicals.

3. Whole grains are subject to little if any processing so they have all three parts of the grain kernel intact, thus the name “whole grain” – nothing’s missing. These three parts are the oily-rich germ, the starch filled endosperm and the outer or bran coating.

That’s a mouth full, but trust me and the world of nutrition science on this one; we can all benefit by sinking our teeth into more whole grains, not only for the nutritional properties, but for their unique, nutty flavor, and appealing toothsome bite.

The natural food section of supermarkets, specialty markets, and health food stores boast a fascinating assortment of whole grains. Brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa (keen-wa), barley, buckwheat (or Kasha), and my beloved steel-cut oats, are generally more readily available. Consider also more unusual grains, such as amaranth, millet, spelt, teff, or rye. Each one is unique in color, texture and flavor. Whole grains contain the oily germ component of the grain therefore they have an increased potential to spoil or become rancid compared to a refined grain, such as white rice. For that reason, purchase whole grains in small quantities and store in an airtight bag, container, or jar, in the refrigerator or freezer. To learn more about cooking whole grains visit the Whole Grains Council.

Cooked whole grains are quite versatile. They make a tasty pilaf or stuffing, and instead of traditional potatoes or pasta, cooked whole grains create a fine side dish served with a saucy curry or stew. They also make a delicious ingredient for a cold salad. Add a variety of chopped fresh ingredients, toss with complementary vinaigrette, and you’ve created a salad that adds a welcome dose of crunch, and a splash of seasonal color to any winter meal. Consider making this salad as a wholesome addition to any meal. And at Christmas, who knows, someone might even  thank you on their way to the cookie platter.…

Preparing A Weekly Menu

Grocery shopping is a necessary activity whether you cook or not. Unless you eat out all the time (expensive), or retain your own private chef (lucky), grocery shopping is something we all have to face. I thought I’d share what I do in preparation for my weekly trip to the grocery. It works for me, maybe it will work for you too?

1. Every week hang a preprinted grocery list on the front of your refrigerator. When you run out of a staple, circle that item on the grocery list so your brain doesn’t forget. Use this same list when you make your weekly menu. (Note about my preprinted grocery list: The order of the ingredients matches the aisles of the grocery store where I shop. The food isn’t organized in specific categories. In my grocery store the toilet paper and paper towels are not in the same aisle as the napkins, so on my list they are in different aisles, rather than in a section headed “Paper Goods”. My list also contains mostly ingredients, not many processed or ready-to-eat foods. For these reasons you may need to customize the list. Let me know if you see anything I need to add to the list.)

2. One the day before you head to the supermarket gather the following tools: the preprinted grocery list that’s hanging on your refrigerator, weekly bones of our menu guide, weekly ads for your supermarket, a copy of your calendar, and your favorite writing instrument.

3. Using my suggested “bones of our menu” (or write your own), make and take the time to create a complete menu that includes all the food you’ll need during the upcoming week: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and if necessary, party food, special occasion meals, or food for a potluck at work. (Yes, you might have to make time. Even if you have to get up from reading this blog – go make some time to write your menu.) Make the menu as complete as possible. Having on hand all the food you’ll need for the upcoming week depends on the thoroughness of this menu. If you’re preparing a new recipe (and I limit myself to one, at the most two, new recipes a week), include all ingredients you need to buy. Try to remember to ask the others who live with you if there’s anything they know you need. It’s quite possible someone has emptied the peanut butter jar and you haven’t noticed.

4. Glance through the weekly ad for your supermarket and if pork tenderloin or chicken breasts are on sale, work those into the menu. Take advantage of 10/$10 specials, but only buy 1 or 2 at $1.00/each. Saving money at the grocery is a lot like painting – it’s 3/5 preparation. Prepare a thorough list and know what you’re going to buy, and by all means, know what’s on sale. Use coupons for items you normally purchase. Try not to let coupons lure you …