How to Build a Menu When Cooking at Home

How to Build a Menu When Cooking at Home

building an award winning menu at home

Imagine it like this: Your kitchen is your restaurant. You are the chef and the customer. Your goal is build an award-winning menu for cooking at home.

So, what goes down behind the scenes of a restaurant? 

We interviewed Amy Ballester, owner of Crushed, an Award-Winning Restaurant in San Diego, CA to see what makes her restaurant so successful.

“It all boils down to your menu,” she says. 

“The menu is the driver of any foodservice operation. It will influence all of your decisions.” 

“Food cost and labor are super tight in the restaurant business. It’s necessary to use every piece of produce that comes in the door. When designing the menu – overlapping ingredients is the key to preventing food waste,” she adds. 

So, if your kitchen is your restaurant, how do you create an award-winning menu that leaves the customer (which is also you 😁) feeling satisfied time and time again? 

First, you have to define your food goals.

Starting with the most important, list out the goals of your at-home menu.   

Is taste at the top? Or maybe health? Are you going for a low budget, or focusing on quality? This is key before beginning the next step.

You can even incorporate a weekly theme. This week you could emulate an Italian family restaurant. Maybe next week is casual beach cantina: get funky with it!

Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s time to build that award-winning menu! 

Let’s talk about recipes. 

Unless you come from a long-established line of family chefs, you probably look up most of your recipes online. This is totally fine! We’re going to give you some tips to help in the search.

Take a look back at your goals. Those are the keywords that you will use when searching for recipes. 

There are thousands of recipes online and this will help you feel less overwhelmed in the selection process. 

For instance, if health was at the top of your list and you want to try some Spanish style dishes, search for “low ingredient healthy Spanish recipes.” 

We highly recommend the “low ingredient” part; this will help you avoid looking for obscurely specific ingredients for hours on end while shopping. 

Once you find one or two solid recipes, list out all the ingredients in your shopping list. 

Now, this is where we put Amy’s advice into action. 

Take a look at the main ingredients of the dishes you’ve selected. Let’s say one dish is a Spanish-style zucchini medley with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Sounds delicious. 

Chances are you’re going to have extra ingredients after just one dish, so what you want to do is find other dishes that use some of the same ingredients. 

You can change your search into “low ingredient recipes that use zucchini and mushrooms.” 

Low and behold, we find a one-pot zucchini and mushroom pasta dish; sounds like Wednesday night’s course 😉

To help you maximize your overlapping ingredients, reference the photo below when you make your shopping list. 

By focusing your weekly menu around your goals, a theme and key ingredients, you will cut down on waste, save money, and try new meals every week. 

Now you are ready to build the ultimate menu for cooking at home!

If anyone has any recommendations for recipe sites or books, send them to us here! If you’d like a 10 minute healthy salad recipe then you want to go here.

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