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.
Make it an outstanding family day with Maple-Glazed Pork Chops (see recipe). Serve the chops with canned creamed corn and fresh broccoli. Add crusty bread. For dessert, a store-bought lemon pie is nice.
Plan ahead: Save half the pie for Monday.
Saving money is always good, and this Mexican rice (see recipe) lets you save a lot of the green stuff. You'll want canned vegetarian refried beans and tortillas on the side to go with the economical rice. Some people will want to spoon salsa over the rice or beans. Let them. Put leftover pie on the table.
Plan ahead: Save half the Mexican rice for Tuesday.
Tuesday/Heat and Eat
Tonight's tacos will be ready before you know it. In a large, nonstick skillet, brown 1/2 pound lean ground beef; drain well. Add leftover Mexican rice to the meat and heat thoroughly, about 5 minutes. Spoon mixture into warmed taco shells. Top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and some salsa. On the side, canned pinto beans are easy. Fruit and cookies make a light finish.
Make it a burger night with store-bought Turkey Burgers. Serve the burgers on multigrain rolls with sauteed mushrooms. Coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray and saute 1 pound sliced mushrooms until softened. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the liquid from mushrooms evaporates, about 5 minutes. Spoon over burgers. Garnish with thinly sliced red onions and tomatoes. Serve the burgers with oven fries. For dessert, fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt will taste good.
Plan ahead: Save enough yogurt for Thursday.
Colder weather calls for chili. Tonight's Vegetarian Chili will help keep you warm (see recipe). Serve with a green salad and corn bread from a mix. Buy or make butterscotch brownies and top with leftover frozen yogurt.
Plan ahead: Label, date and freeze half the chili for another cold night. Save half the brownies for Friday.
Treat the kids to Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Chop Suey (see recipe; it comes from the famed cookbook of the Paul Newman camps for children with cancer). Serve chopped lettuce on the side. The gang would like bread sticks, too. For dessert, every gang loves leftover brownies.
Every guest will enjoy Lamb and Red Onion Kebabs With Cucumber Sauce with its aromatic blend of Middle Eastern spices and lamb, a classic combination (see recipe). Serve the savory kebabs with couscous and steamed baby carrots. Pita bread goes well. Lime sherbet is a refreshing dessert.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
maple or other syrup
thick-sliced, smoked pork loin chops
canned creamed corn
canned green chilies
reduced-sodium chicken broth
vegetarian refried beans
lean ground beef
canned pinto beans
frozen oven fries
fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt
canned pinto beans
canned Mexican-style tomatoes
corn bread mix
butterscotch brownies or ingredients to make your own
lean ground beef
canned plum tomatoes
well-trimmed boneless leg of lamb
coarse (kosher) salt
plain fat-free yogurt
Maple-Glazed Pork Chops (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: less than
Cooking time: less than
6 tablespoons maple or other syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
4 thick-sliced, smoked pork loin chops
Heat broiler. In a small saucepan, combine syrup with vinegar and simmer until reduced by half and just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes). Season with pepper and set aside. Brush generous amounts of glaze over both sides of chops. Broil until heated throughout, or 3 to 4 minutes a side. (Adapted from "Hay Day Country Market Cookbook," by Kim Rizk, Workman, 1998, $13.95.)
Per serving: 267 calories, 28 grams protein, 7 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 2.4 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 1,267 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Mexican Rice (Monday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups long-grain rice
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans whole tomatoes and juice, chopped
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans reduced- sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add rice, stirring frequently, and cook until rice begins to brown. Add onion and carrots and cook until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to prevent rice from getting too dark. Stir in garlic. Add tomatoes and juice, green chilies, cumin, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Adapted from "Texas Holiday Cookbook," by Dotty Griffith, Gulf Publishing, 1998, $24.95.)
Per serving: 258 calories, 6 grams protein, 4 grams fat (14 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 758 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Vegetarian Chili (Thursday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes plus time to cook the barley
2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn
3 cups cooked quick barley
2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans Mexican-style tomatoes, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon each: cumin and salt
In a Dutch oven, combine beans, corn, cooked barley, tomatoes, salsa, chili powder, cumin and salt. Cover, bring to boil and simmer about 15 minutes.
Per serving: 237 calories, 8 grams protein, 2 grams fat (6 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 50 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 858 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Chop Suey (Friday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes plus time to cook the macaroni
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large bell peppers, diced (red, yellow or orange, or a combination)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup marinara sauce
1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can plum tomatoes, chopped
Cook macaroni according to directions; drain. In a large, nonstick skillet, cook ground beef until no longer pink, about 5 minutes; drain. Stir in onion, peppers, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add marinara sauce and tomatoes and stir gently. Cook until tomatoes are heated through. Place cooked pasta in serving bowl. Add ground beef mixture and stir gently to blend. (Adapted from "The Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook," by P. Newman and A. Hotchner, Fireside, 1998, $14.)
Per serving: 341 calories, 23 grams protein, 9 grams fat (25 percent calories from fat), 3 grams saturated fat, 41 grams carbohydrate, 51 milligrams cholesterol, 308 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Lamb and Red Onion Kebabs With Cucumber Sauce (Saturday)
Makes 4 kebabs and 1 1/2 cups sauce
Marinating time: 30 minutes
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes
2 red onions, peeled and halved, root and stem ends intact
1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2 -inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
FOR THE SAUCE:
1 small cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced with a pinch of coarse salt
Cut each onion half into 6 wedges and place in a large dish along with lamb. In a small bowl, combine cayenne, cinnamon, cumin and salt. Sprinkle spices over lamb and onions. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. Heat broiler. Thread meat and onion alternately onto 4 skewers and brush with spices and oil remaining in dish. Coat broiler rack with cooking spray. Broil 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare, turning to cook evenly.
For the sauce: In a small bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, mint and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with kebabs. (Adapted from "Hay Day Country Market Cookbook," by Kim Rizk, Workman, 1998, $13.95.)
Per kebab: 320 calories, 36 grams protein, 17 grams fat (48 percent calories from fat), 5.3 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 109 milligrams cholesterol, 327 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Per tablespoon sauce: 8 calories, 1 gram protein, no fat (no calories from fat), no saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 14 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner @mindspring.com.
Pub Date: 02/22/99