A clip-and-save guide to a week's worth of meals; This week's menus

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

Sunday/Family

Make it a relaxing family day and prepare Crunchy Baked Chicken (see recipe). What goes better with chicken than your own mashed potatoes with gravy? Fresh, steamed broccoli spears add color and a vitamin boost. You'll want dinner rolls, too. Bake a frozen blackberry cobbler for dessert. Now, sit back and enjoy good comfort food at its easiest and best.

Plan ahead: Save half the chicken and cobbler and make 2 cups extra mashed potatoes for Monday.

Monday/Kids

Bajaritas, a restaurant in Atlanta, inspired these Barbecued Chicken Burritos. No kid will be able to resist them. Reheat leftover chicken and cut into 1/2 -inch strips; reheat mashed potatoes. Divide chicken and mashed potatoes among 4 large 8- to 10-inch flour tortillas; top with store-bought barbecue sauce. Roll tightly and heat in the microwave on medium (50 percent power) 1 minute per burrito or until hot. Serve with your own carrot and raisin salad. Top warmed leftover cobbler with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt for a crowd-pleasing dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough yogurt for Tuesday.

Tuesday/Express

Winter or summer, stuffed peppers always taste good to me. For an easy meal tonight, pick up one of the frozen packages at the grocery store. To make dinner even easier, while the peppers cook, prepare a package of your favorite quick-fix potatoes. Stay on an easy roll with frozen French-cut green beans and a packaged green salad. Add bread. For dessert, leftover vanilla yogurt with chocolate sauce is perfect.

Plan ahead: Save any leftover green beans for Wednesday.

Wednesday/Meatless

White Bean, Chickpea and Spinach Soup is filling and tasty (see recipe). Legumes such as beans and chickpeas are good, low-fat, protein sources. Serve the soup with mixed greens and multigrain rolls. For dessert, instant chocolate mousse made with skim milk gives a sweet finish.

Tip: Add any leftover green beans to soup. To shred spinach, stack leaves and slice crosswise.

Thursday/Budget

Unwrap your new slow cooker (or dust off your old one) for All-Day Beans and Beef Chili (see recipe). Serve with a green salad and corn bread made from a mix. Finish the meal with fresh fruit.

Plan ahead: Save half the chili for Friday.

Friday/Heat and Eat

Lucky you -- you prepared most of tonight's dinner yesterday. Put the ingredients together to make a Beef Vegetable Soup (see recipe). Serve with a green salad and bread sticks. For dessert, angel food cake with strawberry sauce is light.

Tip: For a thicker soup, add 1/2 cup quick rice when you add the broth.

Saturday/Entertaining

The delicate flavors of Salmon, Peas and Pasta (see recipe) will please any guest. Add a romaine salad topped with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and a light vinaigrette. Serve with crusty bread. For dessert, frozen lemon meringue pie gives a fine finish.

Shopping List

What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)

Sunday

eggs

corn flakes

garlic powder

black pepper

ground red pepper

boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

potatoes to mash

prepared gravy

fresh broccoli

dinner rolls

frozen blackberry cobbler

Monday

flour tortillas

barbecue sauce

ingredients for carrot and raisin salad

fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

Tuesday

frozen stuffed peppers

package of quick-fix potatoes

frozen French-cut green beans

packaged green salad

bread

chocolate sauce

Wednesday

olive oil

onion

garlic

carrots

potatoes

vegetable broth

canned chickpeas

canned white beans

salt

lemon

black pepper

packaged fresh spinach

salad greens

multigrain rolls

instant chocolate mousse

skim milk

Thursday

beef stew meat

canned diced tomatoes with garlic and onions

canned white beans

canned kidney beans

salt

pepper

picante sauce or thick and chunky salsa

chili powder

fat-free sour cream

scallions

salad greens

corn bread mix

fresh fruit

Friday

canned beef broth

quick-fix rice

any frozen vegetable mixture

Italian seasoning

salad greens

bread sticks

angel food cake

strawberry sauce

Saturday

reduced-sodium chicken broth

salmon fillets

extra-virgin olive oil

leeks

red bell pepper

frozen green peas

salt

orange

linguine

romaine lettuce

Parmesan cheese

light vinaigrette

crusty bread

frozen lemon meringue pie

Crunchy Baked Chicken (Sunday)

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

6 egg whites

1 1/2 cups finely crushed corn flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon each: black pepper and ground red pepper

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a flat baking pan with foil. In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg whites. On a large plate, mix corn flakes, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper. Dip chicken into egg whites, then corn-flake mixture. Place on baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Per serving: 199 calories, 30 grams protein, 1 gram fat (7 percent calories from fat), 0.4 grams saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 295 milligrams sodium, 0 grams fiber.

White Bean, Chickpea and Spinach Soup (Wednesday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 finely chopped onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (yellow part only)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, shredded

In a large, nonstick skillet, over medium heat, heat oil until hot. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring until carrots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes, stirring to coat. Add broth, water, chickpeas, white beans, salt, zest and pepper, and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer; cover and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook 1 minute to wilt. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 314 calories, 13 grams protein, 6 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 57 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 1,116 milligrams sodium, 12 grams fiber.

Beef Vegetable Soup (Friday)

Makes 10 cups

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes

5 cups beef-bean mixture (from Thursday's meal)

2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans beef broth

1/2 cup quick rice (optional)

2 cups frozen vegetable mixture (any kind)

3/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

In large pot, combine beef-bean mixture, broth, vegetables, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender; stir occasionally.

Per cup: 142 calories, 15 grams protein, 4 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 1.5 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 752 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

All-Day Beans and Beef Chili (Thursday)

Makes 7 cups (plus 5 cups for later use)

Preparation time: less than 20 minutes

Slow-cooker time: 8 to 9 hours

2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 3/4 -inch pieces, well-trimmed

2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onions; don't drain

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 1/2 -ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (16-ounce) jar prepared picante sauce or thick and chunky salsa

2 teaspoons chili powder

fat-free sour cream for garnish

chopped scallions for garnish

In slow cooker, combine beef, tomatoes, both beans, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low 8 to 9 hours or until beef is tender. Do not stir. Divide mixture in half (about 5 cups each). Store one-half in refrigerator until Friday (or label, date and freeze for another time). In a large saucepan, combine other half with picante sauce or salsa and chili powder. Cook over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with fat-free sour cream and scallions if desired.

Per cup: 193 calories, 18 grams protein, 6 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 995 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Salmon, Peas and Pasta (Saturday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes plus time to cook the pasta

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 pound salmon fillets, about 1/2 - inch thick, pin bones removed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound leeks, white and light-green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest

1 pound linguine

Pour broth into saute pan just large enough to hold fillets in a single layer. Bring to a simmer. Poach salmon, covered, keeping broth at a simmer 6 to 8 minutes. The salmon is cooked when it is uniformly pink-looking and flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook. Remove with a slotted spoon, place on a plate, cover and let cool. Discard all but 1/4 cup broth.

In same saute pan, heat oil. Cook leeks and red pepper until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add peas and cook 1 minute, stirring gently. Remove from heat and stir in salt and zest. Set aside. Remove skin from salmon; cut salmon into bite-size pieces and add to leek mixture. Cook linguine according to directions; drain and add to leek mixture along with reserved chicken broth. Reheat until hot or about 2 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately. (Adapted from "Mangia Pasta!" by Mary Ann Esposito, Morrow, 1998, $23.)

Per serving: 490 calories, 27 grams protein, 11 grams fat (20 percent calories from fat), 1.5 grams saturated fat, 70 grams carbohydrate, 37 milligrams cholesterol, 521 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner@mindspring.com.

Pub Date: 01/10/99

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