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.
Be My Valentine Beef and Mushroom Dijon will impress any romantic (see recipe). Serve fresh broccoli spears garnished with a lemon twist to accompany the beef and vegetables. Add dinner rolls. For dessert, Mocha-Menthe Mousse will warm the coldest heart (see recipe).
Monday/Heat and Eat
Make 4 servings of Green Salsa Chicken tonight. In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken and 1 1/2 cups green salsa. Stir in 1 (11-ounce) can Mexicorn (rinsed and drained) and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Serve this flavorful chicken mixture over rice. Add canned pinto beans. You'll want tortillas, too. For dessert, a cherry pie sure will be delicious tonight.
Beef Stew Bread Bowls are fun and easy with just two ingredients. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Turn a 12-cup muffin pan upside down. Coat with cooking spray. Remove soft bread sticks from an 11-ounce refrigerated package; do not uncoil, but separate each dough stick section from the other sections. Place each section over inverted muffin cup, pressing dough over entire surface. Bake 16 to 20 minutes. Heat 2 (16-ounce) cans of beef stew. Spoon about 1/3 cup stew into warm bread bowls. Garnish with fat-free sour cream. Add coleslaw from the deli and steam fresh carrots to accompany your meal. For dessert, fat-free frozen strawberry yogurt would taste good.
Plan ahead: Save enough yogurt and prepare enough carrots for Wednesday. Marinate kebabs mixture for Wednesday.
Your little angels will have fun helping you make Kid Kebabs (see recipe). Serve them with rice and leftover carrots. Add soft rolls. Chocolate chip cookies and leftover yogurt hit the dessert-spot just right.
Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Thursday.
Hold the line on food costs with Chili-Stuffed Potatoes. Prepare your own turkey chili or buy it from the grocery store. Bake 4 (8- to 10-ounce) potatoes. Slash the tops and stuff with the heated chili. Top with reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese. Serve with mixed greens and crusty bread. Sliced peaches and leftover cookies make a simple dessert.
Plan ahead: Prepare 6 cups cooked (2 cups uncooked) rice for Friday.
Savory Pilaf is power-packed with fiber and nutrients (see recipe). You'll want a big green salad to go with the rice-bean- vegetable combination, and some multigrain rolls as well. Homemade or store-bought bread pudding is good for dessert.
A big, fat, juicy roasted hen, prepared your way and served with lots of whipped potatoes, has all the elements of a real family feast. On the side, fresh snow peas and carrots are colorful and delicious. Toss the peas and carrots with a tablespoon of apricot preserves to present a different flavor. Add dinner rolls. For dessert, Tiffany Pie is dreamy (see recipe).
Beef and Mushroom Dijon (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
3/4 pounds boneless sirloin or top round steak, 3/4 inches thick
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can condensed, reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cups hot cooked rice (1 cup uncooked)
lemon peel for garnish
Slice beef into very thin strips; set aside. Coat a medium, nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat 1 minute. Add mushrooms and onion and cook until softened. Remove pan from heat; spoon vegetables into another container. Wipe skillet with paper towel, recoat with cooking spray and heat on medium-high 1 minute. Add beef and cook 4 or 5 minutes or until browned, stirring often. Add soup, water and mustard. Heat to a boil. Return vegetables to pan and heat through or about 3 minutes. Serve over rice. Garnish with lemon peel.
Per serving: 370 calories, 25 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 2.8 grams saturated fat, 49 grams carbohydrate, 58 milligrams cholesterol, 763 mg. sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Mocha-Menthe Mousse (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: less than 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon creme de menthe or / teaspoon mint extract
1 (3.4-ounce) package chocolate fudge instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/4 cups frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed (divided use)
fresh mint sprigs and cocoa for garnish
In a blender, process milk, coffee granules, creme de menthe or mint extract and pudding and pie filling mix for two minutes. Spoon into a bowl; gently fold in 1 cup whipped topping. Spoon into individual dessert dishes; chill 2 hours. Top with a dollop of remaining whipped topping. Garnish with fresh mint springs and cocoa. Adapted from Southern Living.
Per serving: 193 calories, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 391 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Kid Kebabs (Wednesday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Marinating time: overnight
Cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 12 pieces
2 cups fresh mushrooms, halved
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
1 (16-ounce) bottle reduced-fat Italian dressing
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, pepper, mushrooms and chicken. Pour dressing over the mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To cook: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken- vegetable mixture on 6 skewers; discard marinade. Place kebabs in shallow baking dish and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are soft, turning skewers after 15 minutes. Adapted from "The Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook," by P. Newman and A. Hotchner, Fireside, 1998, $14.
Per serving: 141 calories, 19 grams protein, 3 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 44 milligrams cholesterol, 285 mg. sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Savory Pilaf (Friday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10
minutes plus time to cook the rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup spicy vegetable juice
1 tablespoon each: Worcestershire sauce and water
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon each: salt and pepper
6 cups cooked rice (2 cups uncooked)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
In a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook oil until hot. Add carrots, broccoli, onion and garlic. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add juice, Worcestershire, water, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in rice, black beans and kidney beans. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until thoroughly heated.
Per serving: 365 calories, 12 grams protein, 3 grams fat (8 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 72 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 581 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber.
Tiffany Pie (Saturday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
8 hours or overnight
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (9-inch) prepared reduced-fat graham cracker pie crust
light whipped cream for garnish
In a large bowl, combine milk and juice until blended. Add cherries, pecans and pineapple; spoon into pie crust. Chill 8 hours. To serve, top with light whipped cream.
Per serving: 304 calories, 6 grams protein, 6 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 56 grams carbohydrate, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 148 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner @mindspring.com.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
boneless sirloin or top round steak
condensed, reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
lemon (for beef dish)
lemon (to go with broccoli)
1 percent milk
instant coffee granules
creme de menthe or mint extract
chocolate fudge instant pudding and pie filling mix
frozen reduced-fat whipped topping
cooked, chopped chicken
bottled green salsa
canned pinto beans
refrigerated soft bread sticks
canned beef stew
fat-free sour cream
fat-free frozen strawberry yogurt
yellow bell pepper
boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
reduced-fat Italian dressing
chocolate chip cookies
low-fat turkey chili or ingredients to make your own
reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
spicy vegetable juice
canned black beans
canned kidney beans
bread pudding or ingredients to make your own
potatoes to whip
fresh snow peas
fat-free sweetened condensed milk
canned crushed pineapple
reduced-fat graham cracker pie crust
light whipped cream
Pub Date: 02/14/99