This week's menus
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 a simple-to-prepare Sunday meal with deli sliced ham and deli marinated bean salad. Add Broccoli Slaw for some crunch. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon each of mustard seed and celery seed. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, place 1 (16-ounce) package broccoli slaw mix and dressing; toss to coat. Chill at least 4 hours; stir occasionally. Serve this quick meal with sourdough bread. A store-bought coconut cake nourishes your sweet tooth.
Plan ahead: Save half the slaw for Monday and enough cake for Tuesday.
Take the day off to celebrate the Labor Day holiday and let someone else in the family prepare Honey Lime Chicken (see recipe). Serve with your own grilled vegetables and leftover broccoli slaw. Your fan club will want your potato salad, too. Add crusty bread. Dessert? How about fat-free chocolate ice cream and chocolate chip cookies? Now, that wasn't too much labor, was it?
Plan ahead: Save 4 grilled chicken breasts for Tuesday and enough ice cream for Wednesday.
Tuesday/Heat and eat
Chicken and Black Bean Salad will be quick and cool. In a large bowl, combine 2 (16-ounce) cans black beans (rinsed and drained), 4 leftover cooked chicken breasts (shredded), 1 (8-ounce) can corn (rinsed and drained), 1 medium tomato (chopped), 1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing, 1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro and chopped red onion and 1 teaspoon cumin. Toss to mix. Place the 8 cups mixed salad greens on a large platter. Place the chicken/bean combo on the salad greens.
Serve with baked corn chips and leftover cake.
Without economical egg-salad sandwiches (and peanut butter), I wouldn't have made it through Mary Washington College! See recipe for a much healthier version than the mayonnaise-packed one of my misspent youth. Serve the updated sandwiches with sweet pickles and carrot sticks. Add canned chicken noodle soup and crackers if you're extra-hungry. Leftover ice cream with strawberry sauce is good for dessert.
Tip: Save some strawberry sauce for Thursday's dessert.
Cheese Tortellini With Tomatoes needs no meat. In a large pot, combine 1 (14-ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini and cook according to directions, using vegetable broth as liquid. During last 5 minutes of cooking time, add 1 (14-ounce) can diced stewed tomatoes and juice and 1 (10-ounce) package frozen tiny green peas. Ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with a mixed-greens salad and garlic bread. For dessert, make instant strawberry pudding with skim milk and swirl with strawberry sauce.
The kids can help prepare Cheesy Chili Quesadillas (see recipe). Serve with carrot and celery sticks. Your angels will lap up this Berry Smoothie. In a blender, process 1 pint fresh berries (any kind), 1 cup plain yogurt and 1 cup lemon sorbet until smooth and frothy. Pour into 4 tall, chilled glasses. Yum.
Plan ahead: Buy extra sorbet for Saturday's dessert.
We can't eat enough grilled fish this time of year, and this Teriyaki Halibut is one reason (see recipe). We served it with Risi e Bisi (see recipe) and a Boston lettuce salad. Add crusty bread. Lemon sorbet with a twist of lemon is a cool dessert.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
deli sliced ham
deli marinated bean salad
packaged broccoli slaw mix
boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
vegetables to grill
ingredients for potato salad
fat-free chocolate ice cream
chocolate chip cookies
canned black beans
reduced-fat Italian dressing
baked corn chips
sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper
canned chicken noodle soup
frozen cheese tortellini
canned diced stewed tomatoes
frozen tiny green peas
instant strawberry pudding
canned turkey chili (no beans)
chopped mild green chilies
shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
fat-free flour tortillas
carrot and celery sticks
margarine or butter
Italian medium-grain white rice (arborio)
fat-free chicken broth
fresh or frozen tiny green peas
Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Honey Lime Chicken (Monday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Marinating time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 to 12 minutes
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
In a resealable plastic bag, combine honey, soy sauce and lime juice; add chicken, turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate 30 minutes; remove chicken and discard marinade. Grill chicken 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.
Per serving: 152 calories, 26 grams protein, 1 gram fat (9 percent calories from fat), 0.4 grams saturated fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 303 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Egg Salad Sandwiches (Wednesday)
Makes 4 sandwiches
Preparation time: less than 10 minutes
Cooking time: time to boil the eggs
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon each: salt and pepper
8 slices whole-wheat toast
4 lettuce leaves
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
sprouts for garnish
Hard-cook eggs; set aside and cool. In a medium bowl, combine celery, onion, mayonnaise, relish and salt and pepper and mix well. Separate egg yolks and whites.
In a small bowl, chop 3 yolks (discard 5) and 8 whites. Add to dressing and mix well.
Divide among 4 slices toast and top with lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts and other 4 slices toast. Halve and serve.
Per sandwich: 282 calories, 16 grams protein, 8 grams fat (23 percent calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 41 grams carbohydrate, 159 milligrams cholesterol, 815 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.
Cheesy Chili Quesadillas (Friday)
Makes 10 quesadillas
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 11 to 14 minutes
1 (15-ounce) can turkey chili (no beans)
3/4 cup chunky salsa
1 (4-ounce) can mild green chilies, chopped and drained
2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
10 (6- to 8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat chili until hot, about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salsa and chilies; stir in cheese. Spoon equal amount of mixture on one half of each tortilla; fold tortillas to close. Arrange on 2 baking sheets; lightly coat tops with cooking spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until tortillas are lightly browned. For more even browning, switch around baking sheets halfway through baking.
Per quesadilla: 218 calories, 14 grams protein, 5 grams fat (20 percent calories from fat), 3 grams saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 826 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Teriyaki Halibut (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Marinating time: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 10 to 12 minutes per inch of fish's thickness
1 1/2 pounds halibut steaks
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Rinse halibut with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. In a large flat baking dish, combine soy sauce, sherry, garlic, ginger, sugar and oil. Place fish in marinade; marinate in refrigerator 50 minutes, turning once. Heat broiler; coat broiler rack with cooking spray. Remove halibut from marinade and place fish on rack. Broil 4 inches from heat, until fish is opaque throughout. Baste 2 to 3 times with marinade. (If steaks are thick, turn halfway through cooking and baste again.)
Per serving: 197 calories, 34 grams protein, 5 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 52 milligrams cholesterol, 393 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas) (Saturday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
1 tablespoon each: margarine or butter and olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (white part only)
1 cup Italian medium-grain white rice (arborio)
4 to 5 cups fat-free chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen tiny green peas
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
In a medium, nonstick sauce-pan, heat margarine or butter and oil. Add celery and scallions and cook over low heat, stirring, until onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, heat broth in separate saucepan until boiling. Adjust heat to maintain a steady simmer and season with salt. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add more broth (just enough to barely cover rice) and simmer, uncovered, stirring, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Continue with remaining broth until all is used. (Total cooking time will be about 25 minutes.) Add peas during last 5 minutes of cooking. Gently stir in cheese and parsley. Let stand, off the heat, covered, about 3 minutes; serve.
Per serving: 171 calories, 6 grams protein, 4 grams fat (23 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 494 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner@ mindspring.com.