Shopping List: Big Batch Ratatouille, Easy Crepes, and Last Call for the Special Offer

The Family Plan #36

For a food-focused newsletter I’ve talked about some uncomfortable subjects: our pathetic government response to coronavirus, death, the fact that Black Lives Matter. Now, let’s address another challenging topic—money.

On Saturday, the how-to edition of The Family Plan goes behind a paywall. Today is your last chance to take advantage of the early bird special offer of 20% off a year’s subscription. While I don’t feel bad about charging—I know I deserve to be paid for my work—I’m keenly aware that for many people, even paying $7 a month for this newsletter poses a hardship. Several readers have written me to say so, and between myself and a generous reader who offered a scholarship, I’ve been able to accommodate them.

I know it’s not easy to admit money is tight. I grew up relatively poor in an extremely wealthy area, with eviction constantly looming over my parents’ heads. And even though I’d like to think that our synagogue, for instance, would’ve helped out, my folks never asked. We scraped by, but with enormous fights about what to say when the bill collectors called, or which of us four kids needed shoes the most.

So today I’m telling you: ASK. If you’d like to receive the paywalled editions but you can’t afford a subscription, please respond to this email. I will help you, and I won’t tell a soul.

For those of you who can afford it, permit me to present my pitch one last time. Seriously, after today I won’t be devoting anywhere near this much real estate to the financial aspects of the newsletter. Here’s the deal:

Subscribers get the free Thursday issue (today’s) as well as several subscriber-only benefits: The Saturday issue, which shows you how to win food Tetris. Private discussion threads with the opportunity for special requests. Access to the full archive. And a new recipe index I’m creating, which will include links to every menu and every recipe used in The Family Plan. Folks on the free plan will get only the Thursday menu and shopping list every week.

Subscriptions come in several levels. The basic plan is $7/month, or $70/year. According to readers, using the plans could save you that much on grocery bills in just one week. There’s also a “Founding Member” option, for folks who want to show a little more support—that’s $210 for the first year. Click here for any of those options:

The Early Bird Special lets you save 20% off a year’s subscription. That offer ends today, so if you’d like to take advantage click here:

Get 20% off for 1 year

There’s also an option to send a gift subscription to a friend, perhaps someone you know who’s struggling financially right now:

Give a gift subscription

And of course, if you’ve already subscribed, I say thank you. Thank you, thank you. Now on to the food.

Here’s the menu for next week:


photo courtesy TheKitchn

Easy French Ratatouille from TheKitchn with crusty bread spread with ricotta or goat cheese. With long-simmered eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, ratatouille is one of those classic summer dishes you can use in numerous different ways. You can cook this on Sunday if you like, since it takes a while. It makes a large enough batch that you’ll have leftovers to use on Wednesday.

TUESDAY: Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Lime Crema from Cooking Classy make an easy, picky eater-friendly weeknight dinner. You’ll have these on the table in 15 minutes! That gives you plenty of time to throw together a double recipe of tomorrow’s crepe batter and pop it in the fridge.

WEDNESDAY: Basic Crepes from AllRecipes filled with ratatouille and melty cheese. Are you hyperventilating at the thought of making crepes? Have no fear—it’s way, way easier than you think. This recipe even gives you a demo video. You’ll be making a double batch, half to fill with that amazing vegetable stew from Monday, half to make magic with on Friday. (If you’ve got picky eaters, nobody will know if you fill a few crepes with their favorite jam instead.)


photo courtesy Cookie + Kate

Layered Panzanella Salad from Cookie + Kate. Panzanella, aka Italian bread salad, is one of my top-3 summer dinners. In this version crisped-up chunks of Monday’s extra bread soak up the juices from tomatoes and other vegetables, along with a piquant red wine vinaigrette. Add a can of cannellini beans or chickpeas and it’s a main course.

FRIDAY: Alton Brown’s Mushroom Crepe Cake from Food Network, with a green salad. Stacking your already-cooked crepes with a creamy mushroom filling, then topping with cheese and running under the broiler? If that’s not genius, I don’t know what is. And there’s a demo video for this one, too.

Here’s the shopping list:

With coronavirus still looming large you may not be able to go shopping—and if you do, they may not have everything you need. Use this list to give you a sense of what you’ll be able to make next week.


  • 1 1/2 lb. eggplant (M, W)

  • 1 1/2 lb. zucchini or summer squash (3-4 medium) (M, W)

  • 1 medium + 1 large yellow onion (M, W, F)

  • 1 small red onion (Th)

  • 4 cloves garlic (M, T, Th)

  • 1 bunch thyme (M, W)

  • 1 bunch basil (M, W, Th)

  • 1 bunch cilantro (T)

  • 2 1/4 lb. tomatoes (9-10 medium) (M, T, W, Th)

  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes (Th)

  • 1 large bell pepper, any color (M, W)

  • 1 medium avocado (T)

  • 1 head romaine, iceberg, or other crisp lettuce (T)

  • 3 mini or 1 regular cucumber (Th, F)

  • 1 lb. mushrooms, ideally 2/3 shiitake and 1/3 cremini (F)

  • 1 lime (T)

  • Fresh salsa OR jarred salsa (T)


  • Extra-virgin olive oil (M, W, Th)

  • Red wine vinegar (Th)

  • Bay leaves (M, W)

  • Chili powder (T)

  • Ground cumin (T)

  • Dried oregano (Th)

  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans black or pinto beans (T)

  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can white beans or chickpeas (Th)

  • 1 jar salsa OR fresh salsa (T)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (W)

  • Kalamata olives and/or capers (Th)


  • Ricotta or goat cheese (M)

  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend OR cheddar OR Monterey jack (T)

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella OR fontina OR provolone OR gruyere (W, F)

  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, optional (Th)

  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (F)

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (T)

  • 4 eggs (W)

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (W, F)

  • 1/2 cup butter (W, F)


  • 1 loaf crusty bread (M, Th)

  • 8 corn tortillas (T)

Stay safe, be kind, wash your hands, and wear a mask.


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