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.
A juicy Roasted Chicken (see recipe) is always a family favorite. Accompany the chicken with your own scalloped potatoes. Add Spinach With Feta Cheese on the side. Microwave a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach according to directions; drain and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Add whole wheat rolls. For dessert, Cherry Cheesecake (see recipe) takes little time for a big flavor.
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and cheesecake for Monday.
Treat the kids to Broiled Chicken, Apple and Swiss Sandwiches. Heat broiler. Lightly coat whole wheat bread with store-bought Dijon-mayonnaise spread. Top with thinly sliced Delicious or Gala apples, leftover cooked chicken slices and shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with frozen oven fries and carrot sticks. Leftover cheesecake is a ready-made dessert.
Plan ahead: Save any leftover carrot sticks for Tuesday.
Stews are a great way to stretch your budget and Spicy Beef Stew (see recipe) is a tasty way as well. Serve with your own carrot and pineapple salad. (Chop and use any leftover carrot sticks, if available.) Add crusty bread. Cookies are an easy dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough stew for Wednesday.
Wednesday/Heat and Eat
Make Beef and Black Bean Soup tonight. Add 1 or 2 14 1/2 -ounce cans beef broth to leftover stew (according to desired thickness); heat and serve; garnish with a little Mexican blend shredded cheese and crushed baked corn chips. Serve with a green salad and extra chips. Angel food cake and any canned tropical fruit salad make a delicious dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Thursday.
The husband who ate many frozen potpies in his youth (don't tell his mother I told you) declared Potato Topped Pot Pies (Swanson's is one brand) another quick dinner option. The 12-ounce packages have about 450 calories and 22 grams of fat, so you wouldn't want to make them a regular menu item. Keep an eye out for coupons; the potpies can be an inexpensive meal. Add a packaged green salad
and multigrain bread to complete the meal. Sherbet with leftover cake is a light dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough sherbet for Friday.
Enjoy flavorful Tex Mex Tacos (see recipe) and never miss the meat. Serve with rice made with tomato juice for a flavor kick. Accompany the feast with thinly sliced cucumbers in cider vinegar. Leftover sherbet makes a cool dessert.
Turkey Cutlets With Capers and White Wine (see recipe) will impress any guest. Serve with orecchiette (tiny pasta shapes cooked according to package directions), tossed with cooked frozen tiny green peas and a little olive oil. Stir in fresh chopped mint leaves just before serving. Add baguettes. Fat-free strawberry ice cream served with shortbread cookies is just right for dessert.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
ingredients for scalloped potatoes
frozen chopped spinach
crumbled feta cheese
whole wheat rolls
fat-free cream cheese
frozen fat-free whipped topping
ready-to-use reduced-fat graham cracker crust
canned cherry pie filling
whole wheat bread
Delicious or Gala apples
shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
frozen oven fries
package fully cooked boneless beef pot roast with gravy
thick and chunky salsa
canned black beans
fat-free sour cream
ingredients for carrot and pineapple salad
canned beef broth
Mexican-blend shredded cheese
baked corn chips
angel food cake
any canned tropical fruit salad
Potato Topped Pot Pies (Swanson's or another brand)
packaged green salad
canned vegetarian refried beans
reduced-fat corn taco shells
dry white wine or fat-free chicken broth
margarine or butter
frozen tiny green peas
fat-free strawberry ice cream
Roasted Chicken (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: less than 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes; Standing time: 5 minutes
1 5- to 6-pound roasting chicken
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Heat oven to 450. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken; trim excess fat.
Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Place chicken, breast side up in a roasting pan on a rack. Coat with cooking spray; tuck wings under.
Place rosemary sprigs under breast skin and sprinkle skin with salt and pepper.
Bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 400; roast 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted in thigh (not touching bone) registers 180.
Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Slice, discard skin and serve.
Per serving: 200 calories, 30 grams protein, 8 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 235 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Cherry Cheesecake (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 3 hours to overnight
2 8-ounce packages softened fat-free cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 8-ounce container frozen and thawed fat-free whipped topping
1 9-inch ready-to-use, reduced-fat graham cracker crust
1 cup canned cherry pie filling
In mixing bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar and beat with an electric mixer until well-blended.
Stir in (by hand) whipped topping. Spoon into crust; chill 3 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, spread pie filling over cheesecake and slice.
Per serving: 268 calories, 9 grams protein, 3 grams fat (11 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 387 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Spicy Beef Stew (Tuesday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
1 package (about 2 pounds) fully cooked boneless beef pot roast with gravy (see note)
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained black beans
1/2 cup water
fat-free sour cream, chopped fresh tomato, chopped cilantro for garnishes
Remove pot roast from package; set aside.
In a Dutch oven, combine gravy from package, salsa, zucchini and corn and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile cut beef into 3/4 -inch chunks.
To Dutch oven, add beef, beans and water and stir. Cover and cook about 15 minutes or until zucchini is softened.
Garnish with sour cream, tomatoes and cilantro.
Note: Look for prepared roast and gravy in the refrigerated meat case.
Per serving: 273 calories, 32 grams protein, 6 grams fat (20 percent calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 826 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.
Tex Mex Tacos (Friday)
Makes 12 tacos
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes
1 15-ounce can vegetarian refried beans
1 10-ounce package frozen and thawed corn
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12 reduced-fat corn taco shells (from 6.25 ounce package), warmed
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup jicama, shredded
rinsed and drained jalapeno slices for garnish
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine beans, corn, salsa and cilantro. Heat 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Fill taco shells with mixture. Sprinkle with shredded carrot and jicama. Garnish with jalapeno slices.
Per taco: 135 calories, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 345 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Turkey Cutlets With Capers and White Wine (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 15 minutes
1 pound (4 pieces) turkey cutlets
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
1/4 cup dry white wine or fat-free chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
Between 2 pieces heavy duty plastic wrap, flatten cutlets to 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and coat with flour on both sides. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Cook 2 of the cutlets 2 minutes on both sides or until browned, turning once. Remove from skillet; set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining cutlets and oil. Add capers to skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated. Spoon over turkey. Add wine or broth and 2 juices to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally until reduced by half. Add margarine or butter, stirring until melted. Add turkey and capers, and cook until thoroughly heated. Drizzle each serving with sauce and sprinkle with pimiento. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 255 calories, 29 grams protein, 8 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 467 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and regis- tered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner @mindspring.com.