Food Forethought: How to Make a Grocery List

Apr 7, 2009 by

Grocery basket woman

I once asked my French mother-in-law, Lucienne, how she managed to cook for the crowds when large numbers of her five children’s families descend on the old farmhouse for days or even weeks at a time. Her answer applies equally to managing daily dinners for one’s own little family: “Il suffit de prévoir”: it just takes some planning ahead.

Traditionally, French women, unlike my mother-in-law, are said to make almost-daily trips, on foot, a little basket on her arm, to the corner grocery store, or better yet, to an outdoor farmer’s market where local growers are displaying their just-picked produce, sparkling with dew. This ideal woman is supposed to know how to choose what’s freshest and most appealing,…

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How to plan menus for healthy, home-cooked meals, á la française

Mar 3, 2009 by


To cook healthy meals for a family the French way, the first step is knowing what to cook. Before you can make a shopping list, buy all your ingredients and start cooking, you have to figure out not only what to eat, but what to eat with it.

I go grocery shopping every Monday and Thursday morning. That’s the plan, anyway. Before I make my list or shop, I start with looking through my recipes.

I have several cookbooks, but the ones I use the most are my little Bon Appétit cookbooks (Tastes of the World, Fresh & Flavorful, Deliciously Light, and Fast and Easy). They are chock-full of simple, yet tasty recipes that work. I also have two little binders where I have glued in or copied down tried-and-true favorite recipes that I’ve gotten from friends, out…

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Steamed Tilapia with Crisp Vegetables

Mar 3, 2009 by


This is a super simple, quick and yummy early springtime recipe that I am sure would have intrigued me when I was a kid, with its foil "en papillote" (al Cartoccio in Italian) cooking technique. Heck, I’m impressed with myself now when I use it. It adds gourmet flair to a meal and it’s perfect for delicate fish fillets.

16 thin asparagus

¼ lb snow peas

1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick

1 small red, orange or yellow bell pepper

½ C chopped mixed herbs, such as tarragon, chives, parsley (optional, or do the best you can. It’s not worth spending $2 a piece on fresh herbs at the store)

Salt and pepper

Four 6-oz tilapia or cod fillets

4 T white wine (I buy the small bottles that come in a…

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How to Stay Skinny and Healthy While Eating Whatever You Please

Feb 27, 2009 by

I’m pretty slim, and so are my kids and husband, so occasionally someone asks me if I “watch” what we eat. I don’t have a simple answer for that question.

I’m no Don Gorske, the guy in the documentary Super Size Me (an excellent tool, by the way, to turn kids off to fast food) who claims that Big Macs make up 90 percent of his solid food intake, averaging two a day since 1972. He also drinks little but Coke. Yet, at 6’2″, he weighs only 185 pounds.

I do eat whatever I want and, since they’ve gotten bigger and they’re conditioned, I let my kids eat whatever they want, but I don’t want to give the impression that we stay fit, slim…

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The Nine Worst and Best Things to Say to Kids at the Table

Feb 19, 2009 by

Brussels sprouts boy

The Nine Worst Things to Say to Children at Dinner Time

1. “Eat it.” / “You can’t leave the table until you eat your _______.

“Human babies, like the young of other species, have wonderful appetites unless they are sick or unless they’ve become disgusted with too much urging or forcing,” said Dr. Benjamin Spock.

We’re born willing to eat the foods our bodies need, and also knowing how much we need to eat. Force feeding results in the opposite of what you want, long-term. Encouraging a child to eat more than she wants not only teaches her to disregard her appetite but also builds resistance to eating what you want her to eat.

2. “Clean your plate.”

More classic force feeding. Why encourage a child to overeat? Perfect…

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