A Hausfrau's Kitchen - Shopping for Dinner

We have our menu planned and the guests have all RSVPd. Let's go shopping and we'll talk about what to look for, how much to buy for that many people and so on.

The menu, you may recall is:

Appetizer: Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips

Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Capers
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli in Lemon Butter Sauce
Baby Greens with Pears and Feta

Dessert: Apple Crisp with Whipped Cream

If your pantry is stocked, you should have a lot of what you need on the shelf already, but let's list all the ingredients. Anything that should be in your pantry already, I'll add an asterisk.

  • 1 bag of washed baby spinach
  • Chicken stock**
  • All purpose flour**
  • Milk
  • Parmesan cheese, either pre-grated or to grate yourself
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese or neufchatel
  • 1 Can or or 1 small bag frozen artichokes, not marinated
  • Either prepared Pita chips or pitas. Ah. Go ahead and buy the prepared kind. You'll be busy.
  • 1 large, fresh salmon fillet, about 3 - 3.5 pounds. Look for firm flesh, very little odor, no discoloration.
  • A few sprigs of baby dill, may be available in the produce section in little clamshell pack along with other fresh herbs
  • Capers** (near the pickle section of your store, probably)
  • About 3 to 5 pounds of tri-color fingerling potatoes. Usually available in the produce section in net bags. Just look for small, fairly even-sized potatoes, no eyes sprouting. Smell the bag and make sure there isn't a bad one in there.
  • fresh or dried basil**
  • fresh or dried parsley**
  • fresh or dried oregano**
  • Olive oil**
  • 2 large bundles of broccoli crowns
  • Butter
  • 1 lemon
  • cayenne pepper**
  • salt**
  • Fresh baby greens: 2 bags of the pre-washed kind is fine. Look for a nice variety of colors and not too many wilty ones in there.
  • 3 ripe pears. Look for nice color, should smell like a good, fresh pear, slightly tender if you press lightly with your finger (don't bruise it now). 
  • 1 small package of feta, crumbled is fine but better if you can get a block of it. Plain is good, so is sundried tomato and herb feta.
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 8 apples: choose a nice, bright apple. Granny Smith is my personal fave. Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are NOT baking apples. No! Jonathan apples are nice and so are Honeycrisp.
  • Brown Sugar**
  • Flour, cornstarch or tapioca flour**
  • Cinnamon**
  • vanilla**
  • Quick oats**
  • 1 pint of heavy/whipping cream
  • confectioner's sugar or plain granulated sugar**
That seems like a long list but look what you need to buy if you already have your pantry set up:
Most of it is fresh right out of the produce section or your farmer's market!


  • 1 large, fresh salmon fillet, about 3 - 3.5 pounds. 
  • 1 bag of washed baby spinach
  • A few sprigs of baby dill
  • About 3 to 5 pounds of tri-color fingerling potatoes. 
  • 2 large bundles of broccoli crowns
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh baby greens: 
  • 3 ripe pears.
  • 8 apples: 
  • 1 Can or or 1 small bag frozen artichokes, not marinated
  • Either prepared Pita chips or pitas. Ah. Go ahead and buy the prepared kind. You'll be busy.
  • Milk
  • Parmesan cheese, either pre-grated or to grate yourself
  • Feta
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese or neufchatel
  • Butter
  • 1 pint of heavy/whipping cream
Then just add whatever wine, beer, dessert coffee or whatever else you wish to add to round out the meal. 

And don't forget some fresh flowers for the table!

A note on portions:
Keep in mind the likely appetites of your guests. If you're hosting a six construction workers who were building a house all day, get a little more of everything. If you're hosting six co-workers who are foreeeeeevverrrr on a diet, you could scale back a little. On average, you should expect to prepare 6 - 8 ounces of fish per person, 1/3 - 1/2 pound of potatoes per person, figure regular bag of salad mix should feed 4 or 5, and one full, large broccoli crown should feed 4 or 5 people.

Oh, one more thought: start getting comfortable with the idea RIGHT NOW that not everyone will want or like everything you serve, or they may not be super hungry, might had salmon for lunch or maybe they have a toothache. Start telling yourself right now and keep saying it: Skipping a dish is not an insult. Leaving food on the plate is not an insult to the cook, either. Saying "I don't care for _____, thanks." Is NOT an insult. Look at it this way: wouldn't it be weird if everyone showed up to your dinner wearing identical clothes to yours? Well, they don't all have identical tastebuds, either, or appetites. It is not a reflection on you as a cook. On the other hand, if all the guests keel over from ptomaine poisoning, this actually IS a comment on your dinner. 

I'll see you tomorrow and we'll start cooking.