Shopping List: Easy Japanese Rice Bowls, Anything Goes Mezze Platter, and Some Recommendations

The Family Plan #38

This is kinda random, but… if you’re as bored with pandemic life as I am, you’re in need of distraction. Here are 5 things that are making me happy right now:

  1. I suspect many of you are already listening to the podcast Didn’t I Just Feed You?!. If you’re not, this discovery will make your day. Two food writer moms, Meghan Splawn and Stacie Billis, talk in hilarious detail about the delights and drudgeries of feeding a family. They share personal stories about successes and failures, always with a laugh and an open attitude. I was a guest a while back, talking about my fun times feeding a super-picky eater.

  2. Another podcast, Local Mouthful focuses on home cooking with an eye towards seasonal ingredients, without ever getting too highfaluting. I’ve been on this one, too, talking about meal planning during a pandemic. Honestly, I could listen to Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan talk about food all day—as cookbook authors they’re both so knowledgeable, and they’re very sympathetic to the pressures we’re all under. (Marisa has one-year-old twin boys, so she brings a particularly practical parent perspective.)

  3. Stained Page News is a newsletter for cookbook lovers. It’s written by Paula Forbes, a cookbook critic with lots of connections. If there’s something interesting happening in cookbook world, she’s on it.

  4. Here’s one that’s not related to food at all: The Pause Newsletter. If you’re a woman over 45 and you’re wondering why this or that aspect of your life is suddenly so strange, you’ll find answers here, provided by writers Sheryl Kraft and Jennifer Owens.

  5. And finally, I just finished reading the most fun summer novel, Beach Read by Emily Henry. It was recommended to me by a book editor friend, who said it was the perfect way to take your mind off all this mishegas. She was right.

What’s keeping you going these days? Let me know in the comments!

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Now, let’s talk about next week.

Here’s the menu:


Photo courtesy Food & Wine

Soboro Donburi (Gingery Ground Beef with Peas over Rice) from Food & Wine or Marinated Tofu Soboro Mince from Japan Centre, with a simple salad. Soboro is a Japanese word that refers to finely chopped or crumbled protein like meat or tofu, cooked with soy sauce. It’s a perfectly simple weeknight dinner. You’ll be doubling it as well as the rice it’s served on, to use Thursday. (Note that the tofu recipe serves 2, so it needs to be quadrupled.) Add a side salad like you’d get in a Japanese restaurant: iceberg lettuce, carrot, and cucumber, topped with Carrot Ginger Dressing.

TUESDAY: Vegetarian Niçoise Salad from Love & Lemons with bread. This easy dinner salad takes very little effort, and by cooking extra eggs and potatoes, you’ll have fodder for Friday. Add tuna if you like.


Photo courtesy Cookie + Kate

Colorful Veggie Lettuce Wraps from Cookie + Kate. Here’s a dinner that’s super-friendly to picky eaters, since each person can assemble their own wraps. Double the edamame hummus to use on Friday.

THURSDAY: Soboro Fried Rice, following the suggestions in Epicurious’ How to Make Fried Rice Without a Recipe, uses Monday’s leftovers as well as some extra vegetables.

FRIDAY: Anything Goes Mezze Platter is a freewheeling end to the week. Set out Wednesday’s edamame hummus, as well as a store-bought Middle Eastern salad or two, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, green beans, artichoke hearts, feta, olives, and pita, along with the extra lemon vinaigrette from Tuesday.

Here’s the shopping list:

My standard pandemic disclaimer still applies: You might not be able to find all of this when you go shopping, if you even go shopping, so use the list to determine which recipes you can make. And as always, an asterisk* denotes ingredients for the vegetarian option.


  • 5-inch knob of ginger (M, Th)

  • 1-2 shallots (M, F)                 

  • 4 cloves garlic (T, W, Th, F)

  • 1 lb. small yellow or red potatoes (T, F)

  • 1 large tomato OR beni shoga (Japanese pickled ginger) (M, Th)

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (M)

  • 2 heads butter, Bibb, or Boston lettuce (W)

  • 2 cucumbers (M, F)

  • 1 lb. carrots (M, W, Th, F)

  • 4 shiitake mushrooms* (M, Th)

  • 1-2 bunches scallions (M, W, Th)

  • 1 bunch parsley, optional (T)

  • 1 bunch cilantro (W, F)

  • 8 oz. green beans (T, F)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (T, F)

  • Several crunchy vegetables like radishes, bell peppers, red cabbage, celery (W)

  • 8 lemons (T, W, F)

  • 2 packages firm tofu* (M, Th)

  • 1-2 packages prepared Middle Eastern items like hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh, tzatziki (F)


  • 2/3 cup white grape juice + rice vinegar OR sake OR dry sherry OR Chinese rice wine OR dry vermouth (M, Th)

  • 2/3 cup soy sauce (M, W, Th)

  • 1/4 cup Dashi OR water (M, Th)

  • 2 tablespoons beni shoga (Japanese pickled ginger) or 1 large tomato (M, Th)

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar, seasoned or unseasoned (M, W, F)

  • 3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil (M, W, F)

  • 2 teaspoons mirin* (M, Th)

  • 4 oz. soba noodles (W)

  • Granulated sugar (M, Th)

  • 3 cups rice (M, Th)

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (M, F)

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (T, W, F)

  • 1 can white beans (T)

  • 1 can or jar artichoke hearts (T, F)

  • 1 cup niçoise or kalamata olives (T, F)

  • 2 tablespoons capers (T)

  • 1 can tuna, optional (T)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (T)

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, preferably black (W)

  • 2/3 cup tahini (W, F)

  • 1 package pita chips OR pita bread (F)

Meat Counter

  • 2 lb. lean ground beef (90%, if possible) OR turkey OR chicken (M, Th)


  • 8 eggs (T, F)

  • 6-8 oz. block feta (F)


  • 1 loaf crusty bread or baguette (T)

  • 4-6 pita OR pita chips (F)

Freezer Case

  • 2 cups frozen peas (M, Th)

  • 20 oz. shelled edamame (W, F)

Liquor Store

  • 2/3 cup sake OR dry sherry OR Chinese rice wine OR dry vermouth OR white grape juice + rice vinegar (M, Th)

On Saturday, paying subscribers will get the plan.

Until then,

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