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
Try Pork Loin With Hot Pepper Glaze from Atlanta cookbook author and cooking teacher Ray Overton for a family feast. Serve it with Unfried Rice. Add a green salad and multigrain rolls. Buy a deep-dish peach cobbler for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough pork, rice and cobbler for Monday.
Pork Loin With Hot-Pepper Jelly Glaze
Makes 15 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour 10 minutes
1 boneless pork loin (about 4 pounds), trimmed and tied
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup hot-pepper jelly or apple jelly
2 / 3 cup apple cider or apple juice
5 whole Granny Smith apples for garnish
3 whole jalapeno peppers for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with foil; coat with cooking spray. Remove string from pork; remove fat as necessary. Place in prepared pan and rub with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350. Spread jelly all over pork. Pour cider or juice around pork. Return to oven and roast, basting with pan drippings every 10 minutes or so, until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 155, about 55 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160.
Slice and overlap slices on a large warmed platter. Drizzle with pan drippings. Garnish with apples and jalapeno if desired. (Adapted from "The South," by Ray Overton, Time-Life Books, 2000, $22.95.)
Per serving: 260 calories, 26 grams protein, 9 grams fat (32 percent calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 219 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
2 14 1/2 -ounce cans Oriental broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 medium sliced carrots
4 sliced scallions
1 cup frozen peas
Heat a medium nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray on medium heat 1 minute. Add eggs and cook 3 or 4 minutes or until set, stirring often. Remove from pan, coarsely chop the eggs and set aside.
In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat, add rice. Cook 3 or 4 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, garlic powder and carrots. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
Add scallions and peas. Cook 5 minutes more or until rice is done and most of liquid is absorbed. Stir in reserved eggs and heat 1 minute or until heated through.
Per serving: 176 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fat (8 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 53 milligrams cholesterol, 530 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
MONDAY/ Heat and eat
Take advantage of Sunday's leftovers and enjoy Pork With Peppers.
In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook 2 large sliced yellow (or red or orange) bell peppers 5 minutes or until softened. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and 1 clove crushed garlic and reduce liquid to 2 tablespoons by boiling. Add 1 cup fat-free chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Slice about 3 / 4 pound cooked (leftover) pork and add to mixture. Cook 2 minutes or until pork is hot and sauce thickens.
Serve it over leftover rice. Add a mixed greens salad and crusty bread.
Warm the leftover cobbler and top it with fat-free vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.
TUESDAY / Kids
Lasso the kids for Tex-Mex Casserole (see recipe) tonight. Tie up some jicama sticks on the side. Belly up to the bar for a berry float for dessert.
For one float: pour 2 tablespoons strawberry syrup into a tall glass. Slowly pour in well-chilled club soda until about , full. Stir and add 2 scoops fat-free strawberry ice cream and top with fresh sliced strawberries.
Plan ahead: Save enough casserole and ice cream for Wednesday.
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 20 minutes
1/2 pound each ground turkey breast and lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 pressed garlic cloves
2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (mild) (Rotel is one brand)
2 16-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 6-ounce package cornbread mix
Heat oven to 400. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray cook turkey, beef, onions and garlic 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Return meat mixture to pan. Stir in tomatoes with chilies, beans, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Pour into baking dish. Prepare cornbread mixture according to package directions, using skim milk. Pour over meat mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Per serving: 313 calories, 23 grams protein, 9 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 2.3 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 1047 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.
WEDNESDAY / Budget
Let your frugal self escape and make Burritos Corpus Christi tonight. Heat leftover Tex-Mex casserole (chop cornbread topping and mix it in or discard the topping) and spoon down the center of warmed burrito-size fat-free flour tortillas; top with Mexican-blend shredded cheese and sliced jalapeno peppers. Fold over 2 sides and roll. Top with reduced-fat sour cream, if you like. On the side, serve rice and spoon salsa over it.
Bring out the leftover strawberry ice cream for dessert.
THURSDAY / Express
Make Mesquite Marinated Chicken tonight using a dry marinade mix (McCormick is one brand). Just follow the package directions. Serve with frozen O'Brien potatoes. Add a packaged spinach salad and bread sticks. Fresh fruit is the right dessert for tonight.
FRIDAY / Meatless
Try hearty Stuffed Vegetable Pitas for a no-meat night. Serve with sliced cucumbers and tomato wedges in a light vinaigrette. Pears and oatmeal cookies make dessert easy.
Vegetable Stuffed Pitas
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes
1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained chickpeas or garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons any Italian dressing
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium sliced zucchini or yellow squash or both
1 large red bell pepper cut into strips
4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas (or similar size) with 1 inch trimmed from top, and toasted
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Place chickpeas in a medium bowl; pour dressing over and toss to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook squash and peppers 5 minutes or until softened. Add chickpeas and dressing and heat 1 minute; mix well. Divide mixture and stuff pitas with 1 / 4 cup cheese and vegetable mixture.
Per serving: 416 calories, 19 grams protein, 15 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 4.2 grams saturated fat, 57 grams carbohydrate, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 738 milligrams sodium, 12 grams fiber.
SATURDAY / Entertaining
Any guest will enjoy Baked Halibut. Serve the fish with Fruit Salsa. Add orzo and toss with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You'll want a romaine salad and baguettes.
Top leftover vanilla ice cream (from Monday) with light fudge sauce.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 8 to 12 minutes
1 pound halibut steaks
1 tablespoon each fresh lime juice and water
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 / 4 teaspoon each ground ginger, allspice and pepper
Heat oven to 450. Cut halibut into 4 portions. Combine lime juice and water; brush onto fish. In a bowl, combine paprika, salt, ginger, allspice and pepper; mix well and rub onto fish. Place fish in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, 8 to 12 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Brush with pan juices.
Per serving: 129 calories, 24 grams protein, 3 grams fat (20 percent calories from fat), 0.4 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 352 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Makes 4 cups
Chilling time: 1 hour
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 kiwi, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 orange, peeled, sectioned and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 / 4 cup chopped red onion
1 / 4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, kiwi, orange, raisins, onion, cilantro, lime juice and honey; mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Per cup: 149 calories, 2 grams protein, 1 gram fat (3 percent calories from fat), 0.1 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
boneless pork loin
hot-pepper or apple jelly
apple cider or juice
Granny Smith apples
store-bought deep-dish peach cobbler
yellow (or red or orange) bell peppers
dry white wine
fat-free chicken broth
fat-free vanilla ice cream
ground turkey breast
lean ground beef
canned mild diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel is one brand)
canned pinto beans
fat-free strawberry ice cream
fat-free burrito- size flour tortillas
Mexican-blend shredded cheese
reduced-fat sour cream, if desired
dry Mesquite mix and ingredients for mixing (McCormick is one brand)
frozen O'Brien potatoes
packaged spinach salad
canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans
any Italian dressing
fresh zucchini or yellow squash, or both
red bell pepper
whole wheat pitas
shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
fresh pineapple chunks
light fudge sauce
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail: menuplanner @mindspring.com.