I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I really love grocery shopping. I get that it’s a not-so-fun chore for a lot of people, but I really enjoy it. I love to go to the store for inspiration, scanning the produce and proteins for my next recipe ideas. Last week I got the chance to check out the new Wegmans store in Natick, and because I’m a grocery-shopping-nerd I was delighted to explore it.It was an awesome space (two floors!) with eye-catching displays. Jane got an absolute kick out of the shopping cart escalator and waved hi to it as we rode alongside it. The produce was picture-perfect – I learned that Wegmans actually started as a produce pushcart more than 100 years ago. We also browsed the amazing bakery (their molasses cookies are my husband’s favorites), took in the giant craft beer, wine and spirits selection, and explored tons of amazing pre-marinated proteins and their seafood counter (Jane got to pet some of the live lobsters!). There are even two full restaurants inside the store, and Jane and I shared burgers and fries at one of them when we wrapped up our shopping trip.

As someone who loves to browse the grocery store for my menu inspiration, this was the perfect place to get my creative juices flowing for planning a BBQ dinner for my husband’s birthday. Entertaining can be daunting, and that’s because it’s a lot of work! I am always looking for shortcuts to make my prep work a little bit more efficient so that I can actually enjoy the party and meal and not just be in the kitchen the whole time. So I took on a little challenge for myself after my Wegmans trip to try to build a party menu that felt flavorful and homemade while leaning on some key shortcuts to make the prep process easy. I thought I would share the full menu here today and how I did it, so you can recreate it at home!Since it was a special occasion dinner, I decided to build the menu around a surf and turf idea! To cut down on prep work, I chose some pre-marinated and assembled steak kabobs and then chose delicious Wegmans roasted red pepper vinaigrette to marinate shrimp. My husband just got a new smoker and we planned to smoke a whole chicken with a BBQ rub for the dinner. For the side dishes, I mixed and matched a few recipe ideas from Wegmans’ Menu Magazine – a raw zucchini salad made with pre-cut veggie noodles and the same vinaigrette I used to marinate the shrimp. I also grabbed some of their corn and bean salad from their prepared foods section. A good way to dress up prepared side dishes for a party is to add some fresh herbs on top right before you serve them for a fresh taste and color-pop on the table!I even took a shortcut for my signature cocktail and picked up some pre-cut summer fruits and a bottle of wine to make a simple sangria before the dinner. For dessert, Jane and I picked out a nice selection of those amazing cookies from the bakery and vanilla ice cream for some DIY ice cream sandwiches after the meal. All in, it only took me about 45 minutes to get the whole dinner spread prepped and on the table, which left me lots more time to spend with my little family for birthday celebrations. And what’s better than that? Find the recipe for that tasty Wegmans’ Corn and Bean Salad below – it was a hit!

Corn and Bean Salad
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 ¼ Cups Cooked Corn
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Cup Diced Celery
  • 1 Cup Diced Onion
  • 1-2 Jalapeno Peppers, Diced (depending on your spice preference)
  • 1-15 Oz Can of Black Beans
  • 1-15 Oz Can of Black Eyed Peas
  • Salt to taste
  1. Combine sugar and vinegar in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave for about 1-minute until sugar is dissolved; stir to combine.
  2. Add in corn, oil, peppers, celery, onion, jalapenos, black beans, black-eyed peas, and toss to fully combine.
  3. Season with salt to taste and chill before serving.

Please note: This post was created in paid partnership with Wegmans. All opinions, images and content are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site!