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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

Sunday/Family

Take it easy today and serve delicious Beef, Pear and Walnut Salad (see recipe). Start your meal with gazpacho. In a large bowl, combine 1 medium red onion (finely chopped), 1 large tomato (finely chopped), 1 medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and finely chopped), 1 medium yellow bell pepper (finely chopped), 1 cup tomato juice, 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil; mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. For a smoother soup, puree half the soup and mix with unblended half. Serve cold. Add bread sticks. For dessert, keep it cool with angel food cake topped with lime sherbet.

Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Monday.

Tip: Look for cooked roast beef in the deli.

Monday/Meatless

Pasta With Cherry Tomato Sauce relieves some of your garden's overflow (see recipe). Accompany the colorful entree with a fresh spinach salad and crusty bread. For dessert, serve berries with leftover cake.

Plan ahead: Save half the pasta sauce for Tuesday.

Tuesday/Heat and Eat

Tonight's Greek Pasta Sauce With Orecchiette (little ears) is almost prepared. Just add 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (rinsed and sliced) to heated, leftover pasta sauce. Spoon over a 12-ounce package of cooked orecchiette pasta and top with crumbled feta cheese. Serve with a romaine salad and whole-wheat rolls. Fresh sliced nectarines are the perfect dessert.

Wednesday/Budget

Tuscan Tuna and Bean Salad is easy on the purse and one of my summer favorites (see recipe). Serve with fresh tomato wedges and baguettes. Fresh pineapple chunks are good for dessert.

Tip: Look for water-packed tuna with 1 gram or fewer of fat per serving -- that's the leanest.

Thursday/Kids

No kid (or adult) will be able to resist Chicken and Chips (see recipe). Serve with canned ranch-style beans (or pinto beans). For dessert: instant chocolate pudding made with skim milk and sprinkled with chocolate chips.

Friday/Express

We tried a packaged chicken Parmesan with spaghetti and tomato sauce. The 39-ounce frozen entree was $4.99 in my market. It serves two adults and two children. (You might need extra spaghetti for heartier eaters.) I added steamed fresh zucchini and garlic bread. Watermelon was good for dessert.

Saturday/Entertaining

Shhhh. Your guests will never know that this rich and creamy Chicken Stroganoff is low-fat (see recipe). Served with steamed baby carrots and dinner rolls.

Take advantage of fresh peaches with peach mousse. In a food processor or blender, combine 2 cups chopped fresh peaches, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon; process until smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together peach puree and 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream. Fold 1 1/2 cups thawed, reduced-fat whipped topping into peach mixture. Spoon into 8 (4-ounce) dessert dishes and freeze 3 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer and let stand 1 or 2 minutes before serving.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

cooked roast beef

packaged mixed greens

pear

crumbled blue cheese

walnuts

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

Dijon mustard

red onion

tomato

cucumber

yellow bell pepper

tomato juice

red-wine vinegar

salt

black pepper

fresh basil

bread sticks

angel food cake

lime sherbet

Monday

penne pasta

extra-virgin olive oil

margarine or butter

garlic

red cherry tomatoes

scallions

fresh basil

salt

pepper

Romano cheese

fresh spinach

crusty bread

berries

Tuesday

Kalamata olives

orecchiette pasta (little ears)

crumbled feta cheese

Romaine lettuce

whole-wheat rolls

fresh nectarines

Wednesday

red-wine vinegar olive oil

parsley

canned cannellini beans

water-packed albacore tuna

jar of roasted red peppers

red onion

tomatoes

baguettes

fresh pineapple chunks

Thursday

picante sauce

reduced-fat sour cream

cooked or canned chicken breast baked corn chips, shredded lettuce shredded

reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

sliced black olives

sliced jalapeno peppers

canned ranch-style or pinto beans

instant chocolate pudding

skim milk

chocolate chips

Friday

packaged frozen chicken

Parmesan with spaghetti and tomato sauce

fresh zucchini

garlic bread

watermelon

Saturday

olive oil

onion

skinless chicken breast halves (with bone

fresh mushrooms, fat-free chicken broth

dry sherry wine

salt

pepper

fat-free sour cream

Dijon mustard

eggless noodles

poppy seeds

fresh baby carrots

dinner rolls

fresh peaches

sugar

cinnamon

fat-free sour cream

frozen reduced-fat whipped topping

Beef, Pear and Walnut Salad (Sunday)

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: time to cook the walnuts

SALAD:

12 ounces cooked roast beef, cut into strips

1 (10-ounce) package mixed salad greens

1 ripe pear, cut into 12 wedges

1/4 cup each: crumbled blue cheese and coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (see note)

DRESSING:

2 tablespoons each: olive oil, balsamic vinegar and water

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a large bowl, combine beef, greens, pear, cheese and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, water and mustard. Drizzle salad with dressing; toss to coat.

Note: To toast walnuts, heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread nuts on flat baking pan and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until browned; stir once or twice to prevent burning.

Per serving (salad): 256 calories, 29 grams protein, 11 grams fat (40 percent calories from fat), 3.5 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 189 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Per serving (dressing): 67 calories, no protein, 7 grams fat (90 percent calories from fat), 0.9 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, no milligrams cholesterol, 18 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Pasta With Cherry Tomato Sauce (Monday)

Makes 4 servings plus reserved sauce

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes, plus time to cook the pasta

12 ounces penne pasta

1 tablespoon each: extra-virgin olive oil and margarine or butter

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 pound red cherry tomatoes

10 coarsely chopped scallions, white and green parts (about 2 bunches)

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

freshly grated Romano cheese

Cook pasta according to directions; drain. In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat oil and margarine or butter. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallions, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir constantly to mix well. Cook until about half the tomatoes have burst, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from heat immediately and toss half the tomato mixture with pasta. (Reserve the other half for Tuesday's meal.)

Top with cheese.

Per serving: 361 calories, 12 grams protein, 5 grams fat (12 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 68 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 30 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

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

Tuscan Tuna and Bean Salad (Wednesday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoon each: red-wine vinegar, olive oil and chopped parsley

2 cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)

1 (12-ounce) can water-packed albacore tuna, drained

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers (drained and chopped)

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and parsley. Add beans, tuna, peppers and onion. Toss to mix and coat well.

Per serving: 334 calories, 27 grams protein, 13 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 793 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Chicken and Chips (Thursday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 cup picante sauce, divided

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (or two 5-ounce cans; drained)

4 cups baked corn chips

4 cups shredded lettuce

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

sliced black olives and sliced jalapeno peppers (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup picante, sour cream and chicken. On a serving platter, arrange chips. Add lettuce, chicken mixture and then sprinkle cheese over top. Drizzle remaining picante over all. Garnish with olives and jalapeno peppers, if desired.

Per serving: 333 calories, 31 grams protein, 8 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 4 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 740 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Chicken Stroganoff (Saturday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes plus time to cook the noodles

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 skinless chicken breast halves with bone (about 1 1/2 pounds)

8 ounces fresh mushrooms (thinly sliced; without stems)

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1/2 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 (12-ounce) package eggless noodles

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat; and onion slices and cook 5 or 6 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from skillet and reserve. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Heat remaining oil.

Add chicken and cook 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until mushrooms cook down. Stir in broth, sherry, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally. In a small bowl, mix sour cream and mustard; stir into skillet. Add reserved onions; bring to a simmer, remove from heat and serve over eggless noodles tossed with poppy seeds.

Per serving: 333 calories, 31 grams protein, 8 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 4 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 740 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

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