A clip-and-save guide to a week's worth of meals
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.
Your family will enjoy Spicy Peach Grilled Pork Tenderloin (see recipe). Serve with Couscous With Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (see recipe). Add Italian green beans and sourdough bread. Store-bought Boston cream pie is an easy dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough pork, couscous and pie for Monday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Pork- and Couscous-Stuffed Pitas are almost ready. In a medium bowl, mix leftover pork (chopped) with leftover couscous. Heat in microwave on high (100 percent power) 1 minute per cup of mixture. Halve whole-wheat pita breads, line with a lettuce leaf, and stuff with pork-couscous mixture. (If the mixture is dry, moisten with a little heated fat-free chicken broth.) Serve with deli carrot-raisin salad. Leftover pie is a hassle-free dessert.
The kids will come running for Skillet Beef and Mac (see recipe). Let them also crunch on celery sticks and add bread to the meal. For dessert, make or buy cupcakes with sprinkles for an individual kid treat.
Baked Spuds With Chili is always popular. Bake 4 (8-ounce) potatoes; slash tops lengthwise and stuff with heated canned vegetarian chili. Now the fun part: Garnish with a little salsa; a handful of reduced-fat, shredded, sharp Cheddar cheese; sliced jalapeno peppers; and sliced scallions. Serve with a Romaine salad and bread. Bring out fat-free chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Thursday.
I love the name. I love the dish. I love the cost. Straw and Hay has no cows to feed; it's people food (see recipe). Serve with mixed greens and baguettes. For dessert, leftover ice cream with marshmallow topping is mellow. (The devil made me do it.)
Pick up a few simple ingredients and, before you know it, you've prepared a delicious Mexican Soup. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth, 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans (rinsed and drained), 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 (5-ounce) cans chicken breast with liquid (shred chicken), 1 (11-ounce) can corn with peppers (rinsed and drained). Mix well and cook on medium until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with hot sauce. Top with cracked baked corn chips.
Add a packaged green salad and extra baked corn chips on the side. Store-bought bread pudding is good for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough bread pudding for Saturday.
Invite your gang over for Beef and Mushroom Stir-Fry (see recipe). Serve the combo over fine eggless noodles. Add crusty bread. Warm leftover bread pudding and top it with Tennessee sauce for a little indulgence. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon margarine or butter. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Cook, constantly stirring, over medium-low heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon bourbon or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Serve warm.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
canned fat-free chicken broth
Italian green beans
store-bought Boston cream pie
deli carrot-raisin salad
lean ground beef
reduced-fat condensed tomato soup
cupcakes or ingredients to make your own
canned vegetarian chili
reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
fat-free chocolate ice cream
low-fat cottage cheese
lean cooked ham
frozen green peas
canned fat-free chicken broth
canned pinto beans
canned chicken breast
canned corn with peppers
baked corn chips
packaged salad greens
dried porcini mushrooms
fresh white mushrooms
fine eggless noodles
margarine or butter
bourbon or pure vanilla extract
Spicy Peach Pork Tenderloin (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Standing time: 5 minutes
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup peach preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
Season pork with salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, mix together preserves, mustard and honey. Grill pork over a medium hot fire, brushing with peach mixture frequently, turning once or twice. Cook about 15 minutes or until internal temperature is 155 degrees. Remove from grill, cover and let stand until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (5 minutes). Discard peach mixture. Slice pork and serve.
Per serving: 158 calories, 24 grams protein, 4 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 1.4 grams saturated fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 67 milligrams cholesterol, 61 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Couscous With Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes
Standing: 5 minutes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), cut into strips
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups canned fat-free chicken broth
hot sauce, to taste
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and tomatoes; stir 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are softened. Add mushrooms and thyme; stir 5 minutes or until mushrooms give off their liquid and begin to soften. Add broth and hot sauce and bring to boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with fork and stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Per serving: 191 calories, 7 grams protein, 2 grams fat (9 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 147 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Skillet Beef and Mac (Tuesday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes plus time to cook the macaroni
2 1/4 cups corkscrew macaroni
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can reduced-fat condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup water
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salsa for garnish
Cook macaroni according to directions without salt or fat. In a large, nonstick skillet, cook beef, onions, carrots and oregano over medium-high 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are softened. Drain well. Add soup, water and corn and mix well. Heat to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Add cooked macaroni and heat through. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with salsa.
Per serving: 305 calories, 16 grams protein, 6 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 17 milligrams cholesterol, 304 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
Straw and Hay (Thursday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes plus time to cook the fettuccine
4 ounces fettuccine
4 ounces spinach fettuccine
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit to reduce sodium)
1/8 teaspoon each: freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
4 ounces lean cooked ham, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Combine and cook pastas according to directions, without salt or fat; drain. Place in a large serving bowl and set aside.
In a food processor or blender, combine milk, cottage cheese and cornstarch; process until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium, nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg, stirring until cheese melts. Set aside.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray until hot. Add ham and garlic and cook 2 minutes. Stir in peas and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in milk-cheese mixture.
Pour mixture over pasta, tossing gently to combine. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Per serving: 376 calories, 26 grams protein, 7 grams fat (16 percent calories from fat), 3.4 grams saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 905 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Beef and Mushroom Stir-Fry (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Soaking time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: less than 15 minutes
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (2/3, cup)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons margarine
1 pound thinly sliced flank steak
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces fresh, trimmed snow peas
8 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced
4 thinly sliced plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
In a medium bowl, combine mushrooms and water; soak 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Set mushrooms aside. In a small bowl, combine mushroom liquid, broth, vinegar and cornstarch; blend well. Set aside.
In a large, nonstick skillet or wok, melt 1 tablespoon margarine over medium-high heat. Add steak, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until beef is browned. Remove from skillet; cover.
In same skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon margarine over medium heat. Add snow peas, porcini and white mushrooms; cover and cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir broth mixture until smooth; add to skillet. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add beef and tomatoes; cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with parsley.
Per serving: 309 calories, 28 grams protein, 15 grams fat (44 percent calories from fat), 4.8 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 361 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner@ mindspring.com.