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Each day of the week offers a...


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

Fire up the grill for your own chicken breasts for family day. Serve with Roasted Potatoes With Garlic Lemon and Oregano. It's the season for fresh asparagus, so take advantage of the springtime treat. Add crusty bread. Buy a coconut layer cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare 2 extra chicken breasts and save enough cake for Monday.

Roasted Potatoes With Garlic Lemon and Oregano

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

3 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 -inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 minced cloves garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour oil over them. Add garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with oil. Bake 15 minutes. Add broth, toss and bake 10 more minutes. Add lemon juice, toss and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. If desired, heat broiler and brown 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh oregano and serve immediately. Adapted from "The Foods of the Greek Islands" by Aglaia Kremezi (Houghton Mifflin, $35, 2000).

Per serving: 172 calories, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 0.5 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 329 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber


Orzo and Mushroom Risotto With Chicken is hearty and creamy like the traditional risotto, even though you're using orzo pasta instead of arborio rice. Serve with a spinach salad and Italian bread.

Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

Plan ahead: If time permits, prepare soup and brown rice for Tuesday.

Orzo and Mushroom Risotto With Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: about 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

two 14 1/2 -ounce cans seasoned chicken broth with Italian herbs (like Swanson)

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces each sliced shiitake mushrooms, sliced white mushrooms and orzo pasta

two 4 or 5 ounce chopped (leftover) cooked chicken breasts

1 / 4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, combine broth and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add both mushrooms to skillet; cover and cook 2 minutes or until softened. Add orzo and cook 1 minute or until lightly toasted. Set aside 1 cup hot broth mixture. Gradually add remaining broth to orzo, 1 cup at a time, every 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Mixture will be soupy, but don't worry.) Add chicken and reserved cup broth and cook 2 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan and serve.

Per serving: 418 calories, 32 grams protein, 10 grams fat (23 percent calories from fat), 2.9 grams saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, 53 milligrams cholesterol, 1073 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber

TUESDAY / Budget

Tighten your purse strings with Black Bean Soup With Chorizo. The spiciness level depends on the chorizo you use. Spoon over brown rice. Serve with deli coleslaw and whole-wheat rolls. How about cupcakes for dessert?

Plan ahead: Prepare enough brown rice, label and freeze for Friday.

Black Bean Soup With Chorizo

Makes 10 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours

8 ounces chorizo (discard skin)

2 small chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

2 large chopped green bell peppers

1 / 4 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon cumin

2 bay leaves

2 15-ounce cans black beans with juice

2 14 1/2 -ounce cans fat-free chicken broth

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (or 1 drained 7-ounce jar)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook chorizo 2 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook 5 minutes. Spoon into slow cooker. Add sherry, cumin, bay leaves, beans and juice, and broth. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Remove lid. Scoop out 1 cup beans and mash with a fork. Return to cooker. Add lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper, and red peppers. Mix well, increase heat to high and cook 5 minutes. Stir and serve.

Per serving: 214 calories, 12 grams protein, 10 grams fat (41 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 19 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol , 863 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber


Make it quick tonight with Ham Steak With Sweet and Tart Salsa.

Drain one 16-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce and collect 1 / 4 cup juice. Put sauce in a medium bowl. Stir in one 11-ounce can drained mandarin orange sections cut into chunks, 2 tablespoons each chopped red onion and cilantro, 1 tablespoon minced canned pickled jalapeno pepper (without seeds) and 2 teaspoons cider vinegar; mix well and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray on medium high heat. Brush four 3-ounce portions (about 1/2 -inch-thick) ham-steak slices with reserved cranberry juice. Cook 2 minutes, turn and cook 2 more minutes or until browned.

Serve with the salsa. Accompany the ham with frozen hash-brown potatoes and a mixed green salad. Add cornbread mix.

Serve peaches for dessert.


Be cool and serve the kids chili-cheese dogs tonight. Put cooked fat-free or vegetarian dogs on a roll and top with canned turkey chili, reduced-fat cheese and whatever else the kids like. Add vegetarian baked beans and deli carrot salad. Slurp it all up with a Blueberry-Apple Frosty. In a food processor or blender, combine 2 cups fresh or slightly thawed frozen blueberries, 1 cup apple juice, 1 cup fat-free vanilla ice cream, 1/2 cup skim milk and 3 / 4 teaspoon cinnamon; whirl until smooth. Serve immediately.

Plan ahead: Thaw brown rice and save enough ice cream for Friday.

FRIDAY / Meatless

Enjoy fiber-rich Brown Rice, Apple and Cheese Salad tonight. Serve with multigrain rolls. Scoop leftover ice cream for dessert.

Brown Rice, Apple and Cheese Salad

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: brown rice

3 cups cooked brown rice

1 large thinly sliced apple

1/2 cup light balsamic vinaigrette

3 / 4 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1 / 4 cup sliced scallions

8 cups mesclun (mixed baby greens)

In a large bowl, combine rice, apple, vinaigrette, cheese, walnuts and scallions; toss to mix. Serve on a bed of mesclun.

Per serving: 404 calories, 14 grams protein, 18 grams fat (39 percent calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 49 grams carbohydrate, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 408 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber

SATURDAY / Easy Entertaining

Serve Flank Steak Asian-Style to your guests tonight. Accompany with Mushrooms With Paprika and Sour Cream. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet on high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add 1 bunch sliced scallions including some tops (about 1 cup) and 1 pound quartered white mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes or until mushrooms begin to color. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 / 4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 teaspoon flour over mushroom mixture. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream and simmer until heated through (do not boil). Serve with sugar snap peas and baguettes. Have sorbet and butter cookies for dessert.

Flank Steak Asian-Style

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Marinating time: 2 to 6 hours

Cooking time: 10 to 14 minutes

one 1 / 4 -pound flank steak

1 / 4 cup each reduced-sodium soy sauce and dry sherry

1 tablespoon each dark sesame oil and vegetable oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

2 large crushed garlic cloves

Score steak on both sides in a diamond pattern about 1 / 8 -inch deep. In a large, resealable plastic bag combine soy sauce, sherry, both oils, scallions, ginger and garlic. Add steak, close bag and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 2 to 6 hours; turn once or twice. When ready to cook, heat broiler. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat source for 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove to cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Slice across grain; serve immediately. (Note: Flank steak becomes tough if cooked too long. It's best served medium-rare.)

Per serving: 244 calories, 30 grams protein, 13 grams fat (49 percent calories from fat), 4.9 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 242 milligrams sodium, no fiber

Shopping list

What you'll need for this week's menus


boneless skinless chicken breast halves

baking potatoes

olive oil


dried oregano



fat-free chicken broth


fresh oregano

fresh asparagus

crusty bread

store-bought coconut layer cake


seasoned chicken broth with Italian herbs (like Swanson)

olive oil

shiitake and white mushrooms

orzo pasta

Parmesan cheese

fresh spinach

Italian bread





green bell peppers

dry sherry


bay leaves

canned black beans

fat-free chicken broth




black pepper

roasted red peppers

brown rice

deli coleslaw

whole-wheat rolls



canned whole-berry cranberry sauce

canned mandarin orange sections

red onion


canned pickled jalapeno pepper

cider vinegar

cooking spray

ham-steak slices

frozen hash-brown potatoes

salad greens

cornbread mix



fat-free or vegetarian hot dogs

canned turkey chili

reduced-fat cheese

hot dog rolls

canned vegetarian baked beans

deli carrot salad

fresh or frozen blueberries

apple juice

fat-free ice cream

skim milk



brown rice


light balsamic vinaigrette

shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese



mesclun (mixed baby greens)

multigrain rolls


flank steak

reduced-sodium soy sauce

dry sherry

dark sesame oil

vegetable oil


fresh ginger



white mushrooms





vegetable broth

reduced-fat sour cream

sugar snap peas



butter cookies

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by e-mail:

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