GINNA PARSONS: ‘Menu Mama’ inspires my own planning

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Back before Christmas, I wrote a story about Lori Culp (I dubbed her “Menu Mama”), who has been keeping track of her family’s weekly meal planning for 23 years. I was so inspired by her story that I decided to try my hand at planning a week’s worth of menus and shopping once for them.
Last week was our first attempt. My husband and I sat down on Sunday and planned seven evening meals and then I headed to the grocery store for a 90-minute shopping marathon.
I posted the week’s menu on the refrigerator and also logged it in a spiral notebook, as Lori does. Not once did anyone in the family ask, “What’s for dinner?” All they had to do was glance at the fridge.
I did have to go to the store three times during the middle of the week for bananas, milk and fresh salad greens, but it was so nice knowing that I had to run in for only one item. Even better, I didn’t leave work every day wondering what I was going to prepare for dinner that night.
We’re on week two of our new adventure. Sunday evening, we had these Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs with steamed sugar snap peas and white rice. The recipe is from this month’s Cooking Light magazine.
The rest of the week we’ll be having red beans and rice, turkey burgers, a lemon and spinach pasta bake from a new recipe I haven’t tried yet, fish tacos, grilled pork tenderloin and brisket.
By the way, Lori had so much response to the story I wrote about her that she’s started a blog. Read it at

Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs
13 cup rice vinegar
14 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
12 tablespoons chile paste
10 garlic cloves, minced
12 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
12 teaspoon salt
Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chile paste, and garlic, stirring until honey dissolves. Pour vinegar mixture into a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Place chicken on a rack coated with cooking spray, and place rack in a roasting pan. Baste chicken with reserved marinade; sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake for 10 minutes; baste. Bake an additional 10 minutes; baste. Discard remaining marinade. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until done. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 6.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

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