Shopping List: Classic Memorial Day, Easy Pasta Sauce, and Taco Salad

The Family Plan #80

I’m a little shocked that it’s Memorial Day weekend already. Everything’s starting to feel so different, so… normal. And yet not normal at all. Yesterday I had a therapy session in person, just me and my therapist in her office, the first time in almost 15 months. Maskless, since we’re both vaccinated. If it weren’t for the hand sanitizer and Lysol sitting on her desk, I might have thought we were back in the Before Times.

She’s in the Flatiron district, normally quite the bustling neighborhood, but when I came above ground from the subway I was stunned to see how quiet it remains. So many stores have closed permanently—I think I counted eleven empty storefronts in just two blocks. It’s going to take a good long while for NYC shopping districts to rebound, I suspect.

On the other hand, I headed down to Union Square after my appointment, for the Wednesday farmers market. It was hopping. Everybody wears a mask, even outdoors, so it still didn’t feel like the good old days. But it was close. And they had strawberries, my absolute favorite farmers market item. A good day.

What’s it like where you are? I’ve given you a Memorial Day menu based on grilling up a bunch of burgers—I hope you’ll be getting together with others and having fun. Lord knows we all deserve it.

Here’s the menu for next week:


Grilled Hamburgers from The New York Times OR Grilled Bean Burgers from Taste of Home, with all the fixings and Simple Creamy Coleslaw from Budget Bytes. Meat-eaters, you’ll be making six burgers to have leftovers for Wednesday. Vegetarians, your recipe makes eight so you’re good to go. Serve with slaw (and potato chips, of course). As long as you’ve got the grill going, throw on some zucchini and eggplant for Thursday.

TUESDAY: Penne with Quick 5-Ingredient Tomato Sauce from Bon Appetit and a green salad. Sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple, isn’t it? Cook a full pound of pasta and refrigerate half for Thursday. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

WEDNESDAY: Healthy Taco Salad from Eating Made Easy. Monday’s spare burgers get transformed into taco-seasoned meat (or “meat”) for tonight’s dinner. Serve it salad bar-style, of course.


Grilled Ratatouille Pasta Salad from Epicurious. With your vegetables pre-grilled and your pasta pre-cooked, tonight is extra-easy. Note that some reviews say this is on the bland side—which with picky eaters is a good thing! But you might want to add some kalamata olives and/or capers, maybe some shaved parmesan.

FRIDAY: Asian Stir-Fry Quinoa Bowl from MyRecipes. Think of this as more of a formula—if you (or your kids) don’t like the combination of vegetables, feel free to swap in whatever you like. Since you’re only using half a bag of coleslaw mix on Monday, I’ve skipped the napa cabbage in this recipe—just use the rest of the slaw here.

Here’s the shopping list:

Items with an asterisk * are for the vegetarian option.


  • Your favorite lettuce (M, T, W)

  • 1-2 beefsteak tomatoes (M, Th)

  • 1 pint grape OR cherry tomatoes (T, W)

  • 1 (14 oz.) bag coleslaw mix (M, F)

  • 2 bunches scallions (M, W, F)

  • 1 bunch thyme, optional (Th)

  • 1 bunch basil (Th)

  • 1 bunch cilantro (F)

  • 2 medium zucchini (Th)

  • 1 medium OR 2 small eggplants (Th)

  • 1 large onion* (M)

  • 5-9* cloves garlic (M, F)

  • 1 small knob ginger (F)

  • 1 medium carrot* (M)

  • 5 oz. shiitake mushroom caps OR cremini mushrooms (F)

  • 1 red bell pepper (F)

  • 1-2 limes (W)

  • Fresh OR jarred salsa (M*, T)

  • 1 (8 oz.) package extra-firm tofu (F)


  • Chili powder* (M, W)

  • Ground cumin (M*, W)

  • 1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans (M, W)

  • 1-2 (15-oz.) cans black beans (M*, W)

  • Dijon mustard (M, W*)

  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce (M*, W*, F)

  • Toasted sesame oil (F)

  • Rice vinegar (F)

  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats* (M, W)

  • Jarred OR fresh salsa (M*, T)

  • Dill pickle chips, optional (M)

  • Ketchup, mustard, relish (M)

  • Mayonnaise (M)

  • Honey (M)

  • Red wine OR apple cider vinegar (M)

  • White balsamic OR white wine vinegar (Th)

  • Olive oil (M*, T, Th)

  • 1 bag potato chips (M)

  • 1 bag tortilla chips (W)

  • 1 lb. penne pasta (T, Th)

  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes (T)

  • Hot sauce, optional (W)

  • 1 cup quinoa (F)

  • Sugar (F)

Meat Counter

  • 2 1/2 lb. ground beef, about 20% fat (M, W)

  • Hot dogs, optional (M)


  • Cheese slices for the burgers, optional (M)

  • Parmesan cheese (T)

  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (W)

  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, preferably mini balls (Th)

  • Unsalted butter (T)

  • 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt OR sour cream (W)


  • 4 hamburger buns (M)

  • Hot dog buns, optional (M)

Freezer Case

  • Corn kernels (W)

On Saturday, paying subscribers will get the details on how it all comes together.

To everyone else: Enjoy the long weekend!