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.
You can keep the family cool and still prepare Smokin' Turkey and Rice Salad (see recipe). Serve with Velvety Pear and Carrot Soup (see recipe) and crusty bread. Offer store-bought brownies for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough brownies, turkey, Gouda cheese and any available carrots for Monday; cook and store 2 extra cups rice for Wednesday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Use your leftovers and make smoked turkey sandwiches tonight. Spread a little grainy mustard on rye bread, layer with sliced leftover turkey and shredded Gouda. Broil until cheese melts. Serve the sandwiches open-faced with deli potato salad along with carrot and celery sticks and pickles. Bring out the leftover brownies for dessert.
Plan ahead: Buy enough potato salad for Tuesday.
Celebrate Independence Day in a kid-like way. Fire up the grill for hamburgers on toasted buns. Serve with all the trimmings, including lettuce, tomatoes, sliced onions, pickles, leftover potato salad and your own baked beans. Help the kids make Cherry Surprise Cake (see recipe) for sweet treat.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Wednesday.
Atlanta accountant Bobbi Goodwin knows how to count pennies (as well as beans) while she makes her Chicken and Green Beans Skillet. In a large nonstick skillet, spread 1 (10-ounce) package frozen and thawed French-cut green beans and lay 4 (4- or 5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the beans. In a bowl, mix together 1 (16-ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes and liquid, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Spoon over chicken; add 1 chicken bouillon cube. Cover, bring to boil over medium high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Serve with leftover rice. Add a mixed green salad and whole wheat rolls. Finish with leftover cake.
Pasta with a creamy cheese sauce is hard to resist, and there's no need to with Wagonwheels and Blue Cheese (see recipe) for dinner. (The kid in me liked the way the peas collected in the wagonwheels). Serve with a romaine salad and garlic bread. Buy ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
Try Old El Paso's (or another brand) Gordita Dinner Kit. You supply the ground meat (lean beef or ground turkey breast) and toppings of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and reduced-fat shredded cheese, and the kit includes thick tortillas, 2 sauces (red and creamy) and seasoning for the meat. The $2.79 kit (look for coupons) makes 4 big tortillas. We tossed the creamy sauce because we didn't need the 11 extra (over the red sauce) grams of fat. You could add rice made with tomato juice if you were really hungry. Finish with fresh fruit.
Noodles With Asparagus and Mushrooms (see recipe), a Canadian bacon-flavored pasta, is perfect for guests. Serve with a Boston lettuce salad and warm crusty bread. Lighten the finish with sorbet.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
smoked turkey breast
smoked or plain Gouda cheese
reduced-fat Ranch dressing
margarine or butter
canned pear halves
fat-free chicken broth
reduced-fat sour cream
deli potato salad
carrot and celery sticks
lean ground beef
ingredients for baked beans
yellow cake mix
light cherry pie filling
frozen French-cut green beans
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
canned stewed tomatoes
chicken bouillon cube
whole wheat rolls
fat-free half and half
crumbled blue cheese
frozen tiny green peas
ice cream sandwiches
Old El Paso (or another brand) Gordita Dinner Kit
lean ground beef or turkey breast
reduced-fat shredded cheese
wide egg noodles
Smokin' Turkey and Rice Salad (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: rice
4 cups cooked and chilled rice
1 cup chopped smoked turkey breast
1 cup shredded smoked or plain Gouda cheese
3 chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 medium sliced red onion
1/2 cup reduced-fat Ranch salad dressing
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss together rice, turkey, cheese, tomatoes and onion. In a small bowl, mix together salad dressing and cilantro. Pour over rice mixture and toss; season with salt and pepper.
Per serving: 274 calories, 12 grams protein, 8 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 555 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
Velvety Pear and Carrot Soup (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
6 cups chopped carrots (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 (16-ounce) cans pear halves or slices with liquid
1/4 teaspoon each salt and allspice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
In a medium saucepan, melt margarine or butter. Add carrots and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes or until carrots are lightly browned. Drain pears; reserve juice. Chop pears. Add salt, allspice, pepper, pears, pear juice and broth to carrots. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to blender or processor; process mixture until smooth. Spoon into individual bowls and add a dollop of sour cream and a dusting of allspice.
Per serving: 135 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 0.9 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 327 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.
Cherry Surprise Cake (Tuesday)
Makes 20 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (21-ounce) can light cherry pie filling
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Spread marshmallows evenly over bottom. Prepare cake according to package directions. Pour batter over marshmallows. Spoon cherries evenly over batter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. (Here's what happens as it bakes: the cherries sink to the bottom, and the marshmallows rise to the top and form a thin topping that will brown and be bubbly.) To check for doneness: insert toothpick in center of cake; when toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
Per serving: 173 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 185 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Wagonwheels and Blue Cheese (Thursday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes plus pasta
10 ounces wagonwheel pasta
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
14 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese plus 2 tablespoon for garnish
1 (10 ounce) package frozen tiny green peas, thawed
1/3 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
Cook pasta according to directions without salt or oil; do not drain. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium, heat half and half, salt and water to simmer. Stir in , cup blue cheese; heat 3 or 4 minutes or until heated through. Place frozen peas in colander; drain pasta over peas. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta mixture with blue cheese sauce and walnuts. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons blue cheese.
Per serving: 331 calories, 15 grams protein, 10 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 422 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Noodles With Asparagus and Mushrooms (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 20 minutes plus pasta
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium finely chopped onion
4 ounces thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces thin fresh asparagus cut into 3-inch pieces
15 basil leaves cut into thin strips
1 1/2 ounces Canadian bacon, cut into strips
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook noodles according to directions without salt or oil. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add mushrooms, garlic and pepper and cook 10 minutes or until mushrooms have released all their moisture; stir often. Add asparagus and cook 4 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Stir in basil, bacon and lemon juice. Remove from heat. Drain noodles and add to skillet immediately. Add Parmesan and remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Toss to combine.
Per serving: 361 calories, 18 grams protein, 10 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 3.6 grams saturated fat, 49 grams carbohydrate, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 396 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and regis- tered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner @mindspring.com.