In partnership withSafeway®

See How This Home Cook Balances New Recipes with Her Favorite Traditional Foods

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Credit: Carmen Antonian

Name: Carmen Antonian
Location: South San Francisco, CA
Age: 34
Number of people in household: 2
Occupation: Partner Relations Manager in Tech
Where you shopped: Safeway®

Grocery hauls aren’t just what you fill your cart with: They’re also the possibilities that spring from a single trip to the store. Inside all those shopping bags are potlucks with friends, family game nights, comfort meals when we need them most, and nutritious starts to the school day. So we don’t only want to know what ingredients folks are buying — we also want to know what moments they’re making with them.

For Carmen Antonian, those moments include trying new recipes and carrying on Armenian culinary traditions she learned from her mom and grandma. And they all begin at Safeway®. “Having a grocery store so close with fresh produce and a great selection is definitely important to me. Cooking all the time, I need a reliable source that I can trust,” she says.

And that’s not all: “Quality of food is also important to me. Having quality foods means that you are not compromising on the taste of your meals or even the presentation. I want to feed my family and friends only the best ingredients.” Carmen works in tech by day, then unwinds in the kitchen by night. Here’s how she does it.

Credit: Carmen Antonian

What’s your grocery strategy?

A thorough grocery shopper, Carmen likes to give herself plenty of time in the store. “I always make sure to shop during off hours when I am able to. If my schedule allows, I try and go shopping on Monday afternoons, because I know others would have already stocked up on their groceries for the week,” she says. “I like to take my time and go aisle by aisle to make sure I’m not missing anything from my list.”

How do you meal plan?

Carmen takes meal prep and planning week by week. “If I know we don’t have any social engagements that week, I tend to buy more food to last for the whole week. If I know we have a date night or are going to a friend’s house, then I tend to buy less as to not waste food,” she says. “Usually, during the week, I make healthier and easier meals that I can whip up in an hour or less. On the weekend, I make meals that may take a few hours to cook. Those meals tend to be Armenian dishes that we eat with family.”

Ham and Egg Breakfast Casserole: Special Occasion Breakfast

Special days call for a special breakfast. “For birthdays and anniversaries, I like to wake up early and create a gourmet breakfast for my husband and me,” Carmen says. “I make a breakfast casserole, cook bacon, and slice up some fresh fruit to start off our special day with an extra boost of food.”

Credit: Carmen Antonian

Secret Chili: Dinner with Parents

Carmen’s love of cooking comes from her Armenian family. Her parents like to cook her favorite foods when she visits, and she shows her appreciation by bringing something, too. “You can’t show up empty-handed!” she jokes. “I always make sure to bring over a side dish that they will love. They always make my favorite meals; in return, I want to treat them to their favorite dishes.” Usually, that’s her Secret Chili.

Credit: Carmen Antonian

Chicken Parm: Husband’s Comfort Dinner

We’re firm believers that Chicken (or Eggplant) Parm makes everything better. So is Carmen: When her husband is having an off day and comes home from work in a bad mood, she makes it for dinner as a pick-me-up moment. “I make it when I want to cheer him up. It’s an instant comfort food that you can’t go wrong with.”

Credit: Carmen Antonian

Zucchini Fritters: Lenten Side Dish

Speaking of cooking for her family, there’s another go-to dish Carmen likes to make to show her parents love: Zucchini Fritters. “I usually make Zucchini Fritters for family gatherings as a side dish with some tzatziki. You can make them with eggs or make them vegan during Lent,” she says. “Making sure our food traditions are kept alive is important to me. I share these recipes with the masses and Armenians alike, showing them that making ethnic foods isn’t an all-day process like it was back in the day.”

Credit: Carmen Antonian

Burrito Bowls: Easy TV Dinner

When she doesn’t have the energy to cook, Carmen leans on her favorite easy dinner: Burrito Bowls. “After a long day’s work, I love to cozy up with a comfort meal. I don’t want to put too much effort in, and I want to have something ready quickly,” she says. “Burrito Bowls give me more time to be with my husband and prepare for our favorite show to watch during dinner: Jeopardy!