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A guide to preparing a week's worth of meals

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

SUNDAY / Family

1/2 cup mild salsa Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add steak, bell pepper and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 6 minutes or until meat is browned and pepper is softened. Stir in salt and remove from heat. Sprinkle half the cheese over half of each tortilla. Top with steak mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. (Adults might like chopped onions in their quesadillas.) Fold tortillas in half to cover filling; fasten each half with a wooden pick. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until browned and cheese is melted. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine tomato and salsa. Remove quesadillas from oven and cut into 3 or 4 sections; remove picks. Top with salsa. Per serving: 255 calories, 21 grams protein, 5 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 2.3 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 753 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

THURSDAY / Meatless

You won't miss meat with this Vegetable Omelet.

Serve with frozen hash-browned potatoes and cornbread from a mix. Buy a chocolate layer cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Friday.

Vegetable Omelet

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: about 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

cooking spray

1 large seeded and chopped tomato

4 small chopped yellow or

zucchini squash or a combination of both

1/2 cup each chopped red onion,

green bell pepper and sliced mushrooms

1 cup egg substitute

4 whole eggs

1 or 2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat a large nonstick skillet, coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat and cook tomato, squash, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms 8 minutes or until liquid is evaporated; remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm. Wipe skillet with paper towel; recoat with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together egg substitute, eggs, hot sauce and salt. Reheat skillet to medium. Pour half of egg mixture into skillet and cook 1 minute or until eggs start to set; gently lift edges with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked portion flows underneath. Cook another 30 to 60 seconds or until eggs are nearly set but still moist on top. Spoon half of vegetables and half of cheese onto half of omelet. Fold plain side over vegetable / cheese side; cook 30 seconds. Transfer to warmed serving platter; cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make another omelet. Sprinkle omelets with parsley, cut in half and serve immediately.

Per serving: 231 calories, 23 grams protein, 11 grams fat (41 percent calories from fat), 5.2 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 228 milligrams cholesterol, 533 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

FRIDAY / Budget

Enjoy an updated version of Turkey Melts tonight. Serve with deli carrot-raisin salad. Add leftover cake for dessert.

Turkey Melts

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 5 minutes

4 slices toasted whole wheat bread

1 / 4 cup reduced-fat Thousand Island dressing

8 ounces turkey breast slices

1 small avocado (about 5 ounces)

3 medium sliced tomatoes

4 ounces sliced (leftover) provolone cheese.

Heat broiler. Place toast on a cookie sheet. Spread each slice with dressing. Top with turkey, avocado, tomatoes and cheese. Broil just long enough to melt cheese.

Per serving: 324 calories, 21 grams protein, 17 grams fat (45 percent calories from fat), 6.3 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 44 milligrams cholesterol, 1193 milligrams sodium (reduce the sodium to 590 milligrams per serving by using a turkey breast you cook yourself), 5 grams fiber.

SATURDAY / Entertaining

Show your grilling talent with Herbed Grouper.

Serve with Black-eyed Pea Salad and multi-grain rolls.

For dessert, buy fruit tarts.

Herbed grouper

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 14 minutes

cooking spray

2 4-ounce cubed steaks, cut into thin strips

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 teaspoon cumin

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

4 large fat-free tortillas (burrito size)

1 medium chopped tomato

1/2 cup mild salsa

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add steak, bell pepper and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 6 minutes or until meat is browned and pepper is softened. Stir in salt and remove from heat. Sprinkle half the cheese over half of each tortilla. Top with steak mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. (Adults might like chopped onions in their quesadillas.) Fold tortillas in half to cover filling; fasten each half with a toothpick. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until browned and cheese is melted. In a small bowl, combine tomato and salsa. Remove quesadillas from oven and cut into 3 or 4 sections; remove toothpicks. Top with salsa.

Per serving: 255 calories, 21 grams protein, 5 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 2.3 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 753 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 14 to 16 minutes

1 1 1/2 pound grouper fillet

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 / 4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

3 / 4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

1/2 cup minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

parsley and basil sprigs for garnish

lemon slices for garnish

Brush fillet with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, parsley, basil and thyme. Press mixture onto all sides of fillet. Place in a grill basket generously coated with cooking spray. Grill, covered with lid, over medium heat, 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until fish is opaque throughout. Garnish with springs of parsley and basil and lemon slices. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 234 calories, 35 grams protein, 5 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 0.9 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 356 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons each olive oil and chopped cilantro

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained black-eyed peas

1 medium chopped red onion

1 seeded and chopped tomato

1 chopped yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, cilantro, garlic and salt. Add peas, onion, tomato, bell pepper and cheese; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, cover a platter with lettuce; spoon salad over lettuce.

Per serving: 131 calories, 7 grams protein, 6 grams fat (34 percent calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 622 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

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

Sunday

sliced turkey

roast beef

ham

provolone, Swiss, and Cheddar cheeses

ingredients for or deli cole slaw and potato salad

pickles

low-fat mayonnaise

mustard

Kaiser rolls

low-fat ice cream (Healthy Choice Tin Roof Sundae or another flavor)

Monday

salad greens

eggs

tomatoes

any reduced-fat salad dressing

bacon if desired

canned soup

crusty bread

Tuesday

whole wheat bread

lettuce

tomatoes

store-bought brownies

Wednesday

cubed steaks

red bell pepper

cumin

salt

reduced-fat Monterrey Jack cheese

large fat-free tortillas

tomato

mild salsa

cooking spray

canned pinto beans

lettuce

tomatoes

fresh plums

Thursday

tomato, yellow

zucchini squash, or both

red onion

green bell pepper

sliced mushrooms

egg substitute

eggs

hot sauce

salt

reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

parsley

cooking spray

frozen hash browned potatoes

cornbread mix

store-bought chocolate layer cake

Friday

whole wheat bread

reduced-fat Thousand Island dressing

sliced turkey breast

avocado

tomato

deli carrot-raisin salad

Saturday

grouper fillet

olive oil

salt

pepper

fine, dry bread crumbs

parsley

fresh basil

dried thyme

lemons

cooking spray

red wine vinegar

cilantro

garlic

canned black-eyed peas

red onion

tomato

yellow bell pepper

crumbled feta cheese

lettuce

multi grain rolls

store-bought fruit tarts

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