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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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

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.

This week's menus

Sunday/Family

Everyone will like your own grilled chicken breasts for the family gathering today. For a delicious accompaniment, Lentil Salad With Watercress (see recipe) is flavor-packed as well as fiber-packed. Use crusty bread to mop the juices. You'll make everyone smile when you present strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare 6 extra grilled chicken breasts for Monday and Tuesday.

Tip: You'll save fat and calories when you make the shortcake with fat-free pound cake and use fat-free frozen yogurt and light whipped topping.

Monday/Kids

The kids will come running for Chicken Tostadas With Shredded Lettuce and Avocado (see recipe). For dessert, they can make instant fat-free vanilla pudding with sliced bananas. Teach them to make the pudding with skim milk.

Plan ahead: Make extra pudding for Tuesday night.

Tuesday/Heat and Eat

For a light and easy meal, make Asian Chicken Salad (see recipe) with leftover grilled or other cooked chicken. Hearty appetites might want rice as a side dish. Look in the refrigerator for the leftover pudding for dessert. Top it with light whipped topping.

Wednesday/Express

We liked Digiorno's (or another brand) Light Alfredo Sauce over Fettuccine. The 10-ounce refrigerated container of sauce is about $3.50. Just before serving, stir 1 to 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream into the sauce. Limit the sauce to

cup per serving. Toss sauce with the fettuccine and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add a packaged green salad and crusty bread from the bakery for an easy meal.

Thursday/Meatless

You'll think you're on the islands with Greek Vegetable Medley (see recipe). On the side, serve couscous and warm whole-wheat pita bread. For dessert, fresh fruit is refreshing as a cool island breeze.

Friday/Budget

You'll be popular and save money when you serve Spaghetti With Fresh Spinach (see recipe). Add a green salad and Italian bread.

Saturday/Entertaining

Expect rave reviews when you serve your guests Shrimp and Orzo (see recipe). Accompany the seafood-pasta combo with a Boston lettuce with light vinaigrette salad. Sprinkle with crumbled Roquefort and toasted walnuts. Add multigrain rolls. A cool dessert, Apricot Freeze (see recipe), is a lot like sorbet, but easier to prepare.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

skinless chicken breasts

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt

black pepper

fat-free chicken broth

dried lentils

yellow onion

garlic

bay leaf

fresh tomato

red onion

Italian parsley

fresh sage

watercress

crusty bread

fresh strawberries

fat-free pound cake

fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

light whipped topping

Monday

canned stewed tomatoes

canned black beans

jalapeno pepper

cumin

flour tortillas

reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese

dark green lettuce

avocado

instant fat-free vanilla pudding

skim milk

bananas

Tuesday

rice vinegar

low sodium soy sauce

brown sugar

dark sesame oil

hot sauce

Romaine or other lettuce

red bell pepper

scallions

dry roasted peanuts

rice

light whipped topping

Wednesday

DiGiorno's (or another brand) Light Alfredo Sauce

fettuccine pasta

fat-free sour cream

Parmesan cheese

packaged salad greens

crusty bread

Thursday

olive oil

onions

garlic

cooking spray

white potatoes

zucchini

red and green bell peppers

salt

black pepper

plum tomatoes

parsley

dried oregano

couscous

whole-wheat pita bread

fresh fruit

Friday

spaghetti

olive oil cooking spray

olive oil

onion

garlic

Italian seasoning

reduced-fat condensed cream of celery soup

black pepper

fresh spinach

plain nonfat yogurt

tomatoes

Parmesan cheese

fresh oregano

salad greens

Italian bread

Saturday

fat-free chicken broth

orzo

frozen green peas

packaged shredded carrots

cooked and peeled shrimp

store-bought sun-dried tomato pesto

plum tomato

Parmesan cheese

Boston lettuce

light vinaigrette

crumbled Roquefort cheese

walnuts

multigrain rolls

canned pear halves

apricot preserves

brandy or apricot liqueur

fresh mint

Lentil Salad With Watercress (Sunday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes

FOR THE DRESSING:

2 tablespoons each olive oil, balsamic vinegar and water

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE LENTILS:

3 1/2 cups water

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free chicken broth

1 cup dried lentils

1/2 medium yellow onion

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

FOR THE SALAD:

1 large diced tomato (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed

In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, water, salt and pepper; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the 3 1/2 cups water, broth, lentils, onion half, garlic cloves and bay leaf to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. Drain and discard onion, garlic and bay leaf. Toss lentils with half the dressing. Add tomatoes, red onion, parsley and sage and toss. Arrange watercress on serving plate and toss with remaining dressing; spoon salad over watercress.

Per serving: 254 calories, 15 grams protein, 8 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 268 milligrams sodium, 16 grams fiber.

Chicken Tostadas With Shredded Lettuce and Avocado (Monday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can rinsed and drained black beans

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 chopped cooked (leftover) chicken breasts

4 fat-free flour tortillas

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese

shredded lettuce and diced avocado for garnish

Heat broiler. In a large nonstick skillet, combine tomatoes, beans, jalapeno and cumin. Add chicken breasts. Heat 5 minutes or until thickened. Arrange tortillas on a flat baking dish. Spread about 3/4 cup chicken mixture over each tortilla, top with cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Broil until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with shredded lettuce and diced avocado.

Per serving: 353 calories, 27 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 850 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

Asian Chicken Salad (Tuesday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

2/3 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot sauce

4 cooked (leftover) boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/4-inch slices

4 cups sliced Romaine or other lettuce

1 large julienne red bell pepper

1 bunch sliced scallions

2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil and hot sauce. Add chicken, lettuce, bell pepper and scallions to vinegar mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Per serving: 249 calories, 30 grams protein, 7 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 593 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Greek Vegetable Medley (Thursday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 medium sliced onions

2 minced garlic cloves

cooking spray

2 pounds medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 pounds large zucchini, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds

1 each large red and green bell peppers, cut into thin rounds

salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped plum tomatoes, well-drained of their juices

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook onions and garlic until onions are softened or about 5 minutes. In a large shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray, place potatoes, zucchini and peppers in one overlapping layer, alternating vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with sauteed onions and garlic. Pour tomatoes evenly over layered vegetables, season with parsley and oregano and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add enough water to come half way up the vegetables. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until all the vegetables are tender.

Per serving: 215 calories, 6 grams protein, 5 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 22 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

Spaghetti With Fresh Spinach (Friday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 12 to 14 minutes plus spaghetti

8 ounces spaghetti

olive oil cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced-fat condensed cream of celery soup

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 (10-ounce) bag torn fresh spinach (tough stems removed)

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 medium diced tomato

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh oregano for garnish

Cook spaghetti according to directions; drain. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat oil 1 minute on medium-high. Add onion, garlic and Italian seasoning and cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add soup, pepper and spinach. Heat to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until spinach is tender, stirring occasionally. Add yogurt and tomato and heat through. Toss with spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with tomato and fresh oregano.

Per serving: 357 calories, 17 grams protein, 6 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 2.0 grams saturated fat, 60 grams carbohydrate, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 772 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Apricot Freeze (Saturday)

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Freezing time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours

1 (24-ounce) can drained pear halves

1 tablespoon apricot preserves

1 teaspoon brandy or apricot liqueur

fresh mint for garnish

Place pears in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze until hard, about 1 hour. Remove from freezer and place in a blender or food processor. Add preserves and liqueur. Process or blend until smooth. Empty into a large metal bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Scoop into sherbet glasses and garnish with mint. From "Let My People Eat" (Macmillan, 1998) by Zell Schulman.

Per serving: 58 calories, no protein, no fat (no calories from fat), no saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 6 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Shrimp and Orzo (Saturday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes; standing: 2 minutes

3 cups fat-free chicken broth

1 1/4 cups orzo

1/2 cup each frozen green peas and packaged shredded carrots

1/2 cup cooked, peeled medium shrimp

1/4 cup store-bought sun-dried tomato pesto

1 diced plum tomato

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring broth to boil; add orzo. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add peas and carrots. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, until broth is almost absorbed. Add shrimp, pesto, tomato and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand 2 minutes. Top with remaining cheese.

Per serving: 355 calories, 18 grams protein, 11 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 663 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. Her E-mail address is menuplanner@mindspring.com.

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