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.
Since it's Halloween, serve the family a ghoulish smoked turkey breast. Alongside, prepare spooky Savory Baked Potatoes (see recipe). Serve with devilish deli broccoli salad and creepy crusty bread. Finish your scary meal with Halloween-decorated cupcakes. Boo!
Plan ahead: Save 2 baked potatoes and enough turkey for sandwiches for Monday. In addition, chop 1 1/2 cups turkey for Tuesday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Make Grilled Smoked Turkey and Swiss Cheese Sandwiches tonight. Spread rye bread with a little grainy mustard; layer the cheese and turkey. Rather than use butter or margarine, coat outside of bread with cooking spray before grilling. Serve with hashed brown potatoes. Chop Monday's leftover potatoes and some onions and cook in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray until hot and crispy. Add a mixed green salad and fresh fruit for dessert.
Tonight's Potato Cheese Soup will be quick. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 (10 3/4 -ounce) cans condensed cream of potato soup and 2 soup cans skim milk; mix well and heat on low 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups leftover chopped cooked turkey, 1/2 cup reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese and 1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained and chopped. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Serve with a store-bought packaged green salad and muffins from a mix. Stop by the bakery for a chocolate cake for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Wednesday.
Don't you just love it when you save money and still have a delicious meal like Ham and Cheese Frittata (see recipe)? Serve it with mixed greens and a baguette. Top leftover cake with fat-free strawberry ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Thursday.
Roll 'em and wrap 'em and you'll have Vegetable Wraps for a no-meat meal tonight (see recipe). Serve the crunchy wraps with oven fries and sliced cucumbers and scallions. Sweeten the finish with leftover strawberry ice cream and cookies.
Squareballs With Vegetables and Pasta proves that meatballs don't have to be round (see recipe). Serve this easy meal with chopped lettuce and bread. Sylvia San Martin, a grown kid I know, gave me this dessert recipe for Butterscotch Haystacks. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Melt 1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch morsels according to directions. On a baking sheet, combine 1 cup roasted peanuts and 1 (5-ounce) can chow mein noodles. Heat 5 minutes. Add warmed nuts and noodles to melted butterscotch morsels and stir until well-coated. Quickly drop mixture with a soup spoon onto waxed paper to form little "haystacks."
Tip: Sylvia says that if the nuts and noodles are warmed, the butterscotch will not set until all the stacks are spooned.
Prepare lamb chops your way for your lucky guests tonight. Serve them with Rice Pilaf With Pecans (see recipe). Add fresh steamed green beans and dinner rolls. Sorbet makes a light dessert.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
smoked turkey breast
margarine or butter
deli broccoli salad
Halloween decorated cupcakes
canned condensed cream of potato soup
reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
jar of chopped pimentos
packaged green salad
frozen tiny green peas
jar of roasted red peppers
reduced-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
fat-free strawberry ice cream
fat-free burrito-size tortillas
fresh baby spinach leaves
yellow bell pepper
frozen oven fries
lean ground beef
ground turkey breast
soft bread crumbs
frozen Italian vegetable mixture
chow mein noodles
well-trimmed lamb chops
fat-free chicken broth
fresh green beans
Savory Baked Potatoes (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour
3 small onions
6 large baking potatoes (about 10 ounces each)
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice onions. Peel potatoes and slice each crosswise at 1/2 -inch intervals, cutting to but not through opposite side. Insert onion slices. Sprinkle each potato with salt, to taste, and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary. Dot each potato with 1 teaspoon margarine or butter. Wrap in foil, place on baking sheet and bake 1 hour or until tender.
Per serving: 242 calories, 5 grams protein, 4 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 56 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber
Squareballs With Vegetables and Pasta (Friday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes, plus time to cook the pasta and vegetables
1/2 pound each: lean ground beef and ground turkey breast
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces penne pasta
3 cups frozen Italian vegetable mixture (12 ounces)
1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine beef, turkey, bread crumbs, egg whites, onion and salt. Mix lightly but thoroughly. In an 8-inch-square baking dish, press meat mixture into 1/2 -inch thickness.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until center of meat is no longer pink and juices show no pink color. Carefully pour off drippings. Cut beef/turkey mixture into 16 squares; drain well on paper towels.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions without oil or salt. About 6 minutes before pasta is done, stir in vegetables. Drain; keep warm. In a large saucepan, place "squareballs" and spaghetti sauce.
Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat 6 to 8 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Spoon over pasta and vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.
Per serving: 368 calories, 30 grams protein, 7 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 2 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 878 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber
Ham and Cheese Frittata (Wednesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: less than 20 minutes
8 ounces well-trimmed, chopped ham (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 cups frozen tiny green peas
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
4 large eggs
4 egg whites
1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can reduced-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
In a large, oven-safe (see note below), nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat ham, peas and peppers on medium heat, stirring occasionally, 2 or 3 minutes or until peas thaw.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites and soup until slightly blended.
Pour mixture over ham and vegetables; cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Egg should be set on bottom and around edges. Heat broiler. Broil frittata 4 or 5 inches from heat 3 or 4 minutes or until firm in center and slightly browned. Cut in wedges and serve.
Note: Double-wrap skillet handle with foil to prevent handle from burning.
Per serving: 323 calories, 31 grams protein, 13 grams fat (36 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 269 milligrams cholesterol, 943 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber
Vegetable Wrap (Thursday)
Makes 16 pieces
Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Chilling time: at least 30 minutes
4 fat-free burrito-size tortillas
1 (8-ounce) container hummus
4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
Place tortillas flat in front of you. Spread top half of each with 1/4 of hummus to cover. Add a layer of spinach, carrots, yellow pepper over all of burrito, ending 1 1/2 inches from top. Tightly roll each burrito from edge near you. Wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more. Before serving, remove plastic and cut each wrap into 4 pieces.
Each piece: 74 calories, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fat (17 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 188 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber
Rice Pilaf With Pecans (Saturday)
Make 8 servings
Preparation time: about 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 30 minutes
1 julienne carrot
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook carrot and onion in oil 5 minutes or until softened. Add broth, juice, rice and raisins; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees and toast pecans 4 or 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle pecans over rice.
Per serving: 195 calories, 4 grams protein, 3 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.4 grams saturated fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 147 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.