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.
Your family will stand in line for this Old-Fashioned Pot Roast With Carrots and Potatoes (see recipe). It's a lot lower in fat than our mothers' recipes. Serve the roast and vegetables with a green salad and crusty bread. For dessert, surprise Mother with that good frozen apple cobbler you've discovered. She'll be impressed.
Plan ahead: Save enough cobbler for Monday.
Tip: If you can't find a 1-pound roast, ask your butcher to cut off the amount you need for this recipe and freeze the rest for later.
No need to go out (or call out) for pizza with all the varieties of gourmet pizza in your grocery store's frozen-food department. We're fond of a portobello mushroom flavor, one of the lower-fat versions. Look for a packaged romaine salad in produce to add crunch. Warm leftover cobbler and top with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt for an easy dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough yogurt for Tuesday.
It seems we're never tired of chili at our house (nor is our pocketbook), and this Smoky White-Bean Chili is one of the reasons (see recipe). Serve the chili with your own coleslaw and store-bought corn bread. Strawberry sauce over leftover yogurt is a cool dessert.
Plan ahead: Save half the chili for Wednesday; save some of the strawberry sauce for Thursday.
Wednesday/Heat and Eat
Dinner is easy tonight. Heat leftover chili and serve it over rice. Add a splash of hot sauce to the chili mixture, if you want a little extra heat. Make a mixed greens salad with light vinaigrette and add crusty bread. For dessert, fresh fruit completes a simple meal.
The kids will like the mild flavor of Tomato Beef Pasta (see recipe). Let them make a lettuce salad to go with their pasta. They might want bread sticks, too. For dessert, swirl leftover strawberry sauce into instant chocolate pudding made with skim milk.
While you're enjoying the savory flavors of an Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato and Lime Omelet (see recipe), you'll forget about meat. Serve the omelet with frozen hash-brown potatoes and whole-wheat rolls. Pineapple chunks and cookies make a good dessert.
Perciatelli and Broccoli (see recipe) takes its roots from Sicily. Serve the thick, tubular pasta with a Fennel and Orange Salad. Remove stalk, brown leaves and the green stem from fennel bulb; cut into quarters and slice; set aside. Over a bowl, peel and cut 3 medium oranges into 1-inch cubes, preserving as much juice as possible. Measure 3 tablespoons juice and discard or refrigerate the rest. Add the 3 tablespoons juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil to bowl; mix well. Add salt to taste. Add fennel and toss. Divide among six salad plates. Add Italian bread. The perfect dessert is sorbet and macaroons.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
beef top or bottom round roast
frozen apple cobbler
frozen gourmet pizza
packaged romaine salad
fat-free vanilla yogurt
ground turkey breast
canned Mexican-style tomatoes
canned white beans
white wine vinegar
liquid smoke flavoring
ingredients for coleslaw
bottled hot sauce
lean ground beef
canned cut green beans
instant chocolate pudding
oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
frozen hash-brown potatoes
perciatelli, bucatini or other long, thick tubular pasta
canned whole tomatoes
pitted green olives
pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Old-Fashioned Pot Roast (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 3 hours
1 (1-pound) beef top or bottom round roast, trimmed of all visible fat
3/4 cup water
1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can finely chopped tomatoes and juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 black peppercorns
1 small bay leaf
1 package baby carrots (1 pound)
12 ounces new potatoes, halved and quartered
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Heat broiler. Place beef on rack in broiling pan. Broil 4 inches from heat about 4 minutes on each side or until surface is browned. Drain, then pat with paper towels.
Coat a large, deep skillet with cooking spray. Place beef, water, tomatoes and juice, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf in skillet. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 2 hours. Add carrots, potatoes, celery and onion. Cover and simmer over low heat 45 to 60 minutes more or until beef and vegetables are tender. Add more water if necessary during cooking.
To serve: Transfer beef and vegetables to serving platter. Cover with foil. Skim fat from cooking juices. Stir in parsley. Bring to a boil; boil, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove and discard bay leaf. Drizzle juices over beef and serve. (Adapted from "Stop Dieting and Lose Weight," Mary Jo Plutt, editor, Rodale, 1994, $27.95.)
Per serving: 295 calories, 31 grams protein, 5 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 2 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 267 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
Smoky White Bean Chili (Tuesday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 25 minutes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey breast
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups salsa, slightly drained
1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can Mexican-style tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
In a Dutch oven, heat oil until hot. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink or about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add onions and cook until they are softened or about 6 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, beans, chili powder and wine vinegar. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in liquid smoke. Serve.
Per serving: 237 calories, 21 grams protein, 4 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 39 milligrams cholesterol, 448 mgs. sodium, 6 grams fiber.
Tomato Beef Pasta (Thursday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: less than 15 minutes plus time to cook the pasta
8 ounces spiral pasta
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded carrots
1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can cut green beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups mild salsa, drained
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Cook pasta according to directions; drain. In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef until no longer pink, about 3 or 4 minutes; drain. Add onions and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beans and salsa. Mix well. Add pasta and heat through, 3 or 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan.
Per serving: 366 calories, 20 grams protein, 6 grams fat (16 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 37 milligrams cholesterol, 651 mgs. sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato and Lime Omelet (Friday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 5 minutes
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 3/4 -inch dice
juice of 1 lime
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves
8 egg whites
4 whole eggs
2 tablespoons skim milk
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
In a small bowl, gently toss avocado with lime juice to coat. Cut tomato halves lengthwise into thick strips. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, eggs, milk, salt and pepper; whisk until blended. In large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, pour eggs into skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, lifting edges to let uncooked egg flow underneath, until omelet is nearly set but still moist in center, 3 or 4 minutes. Quickly spread tomatoes over half of omelet. Scoop avocado from juice with slotted spoon and arrange over tomatoes. Fold plain side over filling. Cook 1 more minute. Slide onto platter and serve immediately. (Adapted from "365 Ways to Cook Eggs," by Elaine Corn, Harper Collins, 1996, $12.95.)
Per serving: 298 calories, 16 grams protein, 22 grams fat (65 percent calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 213 milligrams cholesterol, 348 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
Perciatelli and Broccoli (Saturday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes, plus time to cook the pasta and broccoli
1 pound perciatelli or bucatini (or other long, thick tubular pasta)
1 pound broccoli florets
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes and juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup each: raisins and pine nuts
12 pitted green olives, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to directions; drain. Microwave broccoli, covered, 5 minutes on high (100 percent power). Drain and set aside. Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, cutting in half with spoon in pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add raisins, pine nuts, olives and broccoli; cover and simmer 5 more minutes. Transfer pasta to serving dish; pour sauce over pasta and toss well. Mix in basil leaves. Sprinkle cheese on top. (Adapted from "Vegetarian Dinner in Minutes," by Linda Gassenheimer, Chronicle, 1998, $16.95.)
Per serving: 417 calories, 17 grams protein, 7 grams fat (14 percent calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 75 grams carbohydrate, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 515 milligrams sodium, 7 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: 02/07/99