Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different aspect of meal planning. There's a family meal, a kids' menu aimed at younger tastes, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal that employs a cost-cutting strategy, a meatless or "less meat" dish for people who may not be strict vegetarians but are trying to cut down on meat, an express meal that requires little or no preparation, and an entertaining menu that's quick.
Enjoy lean Flank Steak With Citrus and Pepper Marinade with the family today (see recipe). Alongside the steak, serve Garden Fried Rice (see recipe). Steam fresh carrots and toss with a little butter and chopped fresh parsley. Add a green salad and prepare or buy bread pudding for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save half the steak for Monday.
Serving steak salad will help you keep a keen eye on your budget. Toss Sunday's leftover steak slices with about 8 cups of salad greens. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette. Serve with your favorite hearty canned soup. Your own or store-bought muffins are a good addition. For dessert, warm store-bought chocolate brownies and top with fat-free frozen peppermint or chocolate yogurt.
Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Tuesday.
Cheeseburgers are near the top of any kid's favorite food list. Serve your kids tonight's frozen vegetable burgers on toasted hamburger buns with melted 2-percent-fat cheese slices and trimmings of lettuce, tomato, pickle, low-fat mayonnaise and mustard, and they'll think that Santa is back again. Serve the burgers with canned vegetarian baked beans and carrot sticks, and off to bed the children will go. That is, right after you give them leftover brownies with light whipped cream. Sleep tight, little angels.
Because we have so much to do this time of year, a package of frozen chicken chunks, pasta and vegetables with sauce is just what we need for an easy meal. The brand my family likes comes in 20-ounce or 30-ounce (harder to find) packages. The 20-ounce size claims three servings - maybe for wimps; two of us ate the whole thing. Serve the combo with a packaged green salad and bread. For dessert, a store-bought Boston cream pie is easy.
Plan ahead: Save half the pie for Friday.
Celebrate New Year's Eve with friends. Make it easy for yourself and serve a spiral-cut honey-baked ham. Make your own scalloped potatoes. Frozen petite green peas with pearl onions add color. Savory Mushrooms are simple and delicious (see recipe). Homemade or store-bought coleslaw is an easy addition. Serve with dinner rolls. For dessert, fresh fruit and sugar cookies are light. Toast everyone with a glass of champagne to welcome 1999.
Plan ahead: Save leftover slaw and ham for Friday.
Friday/Heat and Eat
Turn on the ballgames and enjoy Black-Eyed Pea Soup for good luck in the new year (see recipe). For heartier appetites, serve the soup over rice. Accompany it with leftover coleslaw and some crusty bread. For dessert, leftover Boston cream pie is waiting for you.
Your guests will enjoy your own broiled pork loin chops. Serve with Memories of Virginia Mashed Potatoes With Sauerkraut (see recipe), a favorite combination with my German-descent Virginia family. Add crusty bread. For dessert, a store-bought fat-free pound cake with berries and light whipped cream is delicious.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
frozen green peas
bread pudding or ingredients to make your own
hearty canned soup
muffins or ingredients to make your own
fat-free frozen peppermint or chocolate yogurt
frozen vegetable burgers
2-percent-fat cheese slices
canned vegetarian baked beans
light whipped cream
package of frozen chicken chunks, pasta and vegetables with sauce
packaged green salad
Boston cream pie
spiral-cut honey-baked ham
ingredients for scalloped potatoes
frozen petite green peas with pearl onions
margarine or butter
deli coleslaw or ingredients to make your own
canned black-eyed peas
canned stewed tomatoes
reduced-sodium chicken broth
pork loin chops
reduced-sodium chicken broth
Golden Delicious apples
fat-free pound cake
light whipped cream
Flank Steak With Citrus and Pepper Marinade (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes; marinating time: 1 hour to overnight
Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse pepper
2 pounds flank steak
In measuring cup, combine orange juice, garlic, lemon juice and rind, oil and pepper; mix well. Place steak in resealable plastic bag; pour marinade over and seal. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, turning steak once or twice.
Heat broiler. Remove steak and discard marinade; broil 4 or 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Cut diagonally across grain into thin slices. (From "Lighthearted Everyday Cooking," by Anne Lindsay, MCM Books, 1994, $16.95.)
Per serving: 186 calories, 24 grams protein, 9 grams fat (46 percent calories from fat), 4 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 73 milligrams sodium, 0 grams fiber.
Garden Fried Rice (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: under 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes plus time to cook the rice and peas
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup frozen green peas, cooked and drained
Cook rice according to directions. In a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat oil on medium-high. Add cooked rice and cook until brown, or about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour soy sauce over rice; stir until well-blended. Stir in scallions and peas. Cook 1 minute and serve. (Adapted from "What's Cooking America" by L. Stradley and A. Cook, Book Partners Inc., 1998, $21.95.)
Per serving: 161 calories, 4 grams protein, 3 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.2 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 484 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Savory Mushrooms (Thursday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: less than 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 to 7 minutes
1 pound white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Place mushrooms in a 1 1/2-quart casserole and microwave uncovered on high 4 to 6 minutes; drain well. Add margarine or butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper and microwave on high 1 minute.
Per serving: 54 calories, 2 grams protein, 4 grams fat (62 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 144 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup (Friday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: under 20 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 ounces cooked, diced ham
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 medium celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium (8-ounce) zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups water
In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add ham, carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are softened. Stir in peas, tomatoes, broth, pepper and water; heat to boiling over high heat. (Adapted from "Good Housekeeping Best One-Dish Meals," Time Inc. Home Entertainment, 1998, $24.95.)
Per serving: 260 calories, 14 grams protein, 9 grams fat (29 percent calories from fat), 1.5 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 1,159 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber.
Memories of Virginia Mashed Potatoes With Sauerkraut (Saturday)
Makes 10 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 to 55 minutes for sauerkraut; under 20 minutes for potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
3 pounds white potatoes, peeled and halved
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
For the sauerkraut topping: In a large, nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sauerkraut, broth, apples and caraway seeds. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes or until sauerkraut is tender and apples are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the mashed potatoes: In a large pot, place potatoes; cover with water and cover pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender; drain well. Meanwhile, heat milk in microwave on high (100 percent power) about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Spoon potatoes into electric mixer or other bowl. Beat on low, slowly adding milk and salt. Beat to desired consistency. (I beat on high speed at least a minute for very light potatoes.) Stir in butter.
Spoon potatoes into serving bowl and top with sauerkraut or pass sauerkraut separately.
Per serving: 181 calories, 5 grams protein, 4 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 2.3 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 577 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author an registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanneindspring.com.
Pub Date: 12/27/98