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

MENU PLANNER

January 03, 1999|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

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

You'll be spending more time with the family when you prepare easy Mustard Lamb Chops (see recipe). For a perfect accompaniment, make couscous tossed with toasted pine nuts. Serve with asparagus spears and dinner rolls. Lime sherbet is a light dessert.

Tip: To save time, use quick-cooking couscous.

Monday/Express

Make a quick Tex-Mex Chili Mac tonight (see recipe). Serve with a packaged green salad and corn muffins from a mix.

Tuesday/Kids

You'll make the kids happy when you serve Corn and Bean Roll-Ups (see recipe). Add rice. For dessert, help the children make brownies from a mix.

Plan ahead: Save leftover brownies for Wednesday.

Tip: Make 2 extra cups cooked rice for Saturday and freeze.

Wednesday/Meatless

Call it Meatless in Seattle ... or Baltimore or Lutherville, but call Creamy Tomato and Cheese Pasta delicious: Cook a 12-ounce box of spaghetti according to directions; add a 10-ounce package of whole-leaf spinach to pot the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine spaghetti-spinach mixture and a 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes (chopped and drained). Heat 1 tablespoon margarine or butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Whisk in 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of 1 percent milk until blended. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring cheese and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Pour over spaghetti mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Serve with a packaged fat-free Caesar salad and Italian bread. Warm the leftover brownies and top with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt.

Plan ahead: Save leftover yogurt for Friday.

Thursday/Budget

Of course you're saving money tonight, you're serving a simple Risotto With Ham and Peas (see recipe). Add a mixed green salad and crusty bread. For dessert, sliced pears and oatmeal cookies are easy.

Plan ahead: Save half the risotto and leftover cookies for Friday.

Tip: For convenience, buy the ham from the deli.

Friday/Heat and Eat

Dinner will be quick tonight. Just heat leftover risotto and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with steamed baby carrots tossed with a little chopped flat-leaf parsley. Add bread sticks. For dessert, top leftover frozen yogurt with warm chocolate fudge sauce. And where are those leftover cookies?

Saturday/Entertaining

Wow your guests with savory Beef Pizzaiolo (see recipe). Serve the beef and vegetable combo with leftover rice. Add a spinach salad and crusty bread. Looking for a light dessert? Sorbet is the answer.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

vegetable oil

loin lamb chops

black pepper

grainy Dijon mustard

flat-leaf parsley

couscous

pine nuts

asparagus spears

dinner rolls

lime sherbet

Monday

packaged macaroni and cheese (light)

lean ground beef

salsa

packaged green salad

corn muffin mix

Tuesday

cooking spray

packaged shredded coleslaw mix

frozen whole-kernel corn

shredded carrots

chili sauce

canned pinto beans

low-fat mayonnaise

flour tortillas

rice

brownie mix

Wednesday

spaghetti

frozen whole-leaf spinach

canned plum tomatoes

margarine or butter

flour

salt

pepper

1 percent milk

Swiss cheese

Dijon mustard

packaged fat-free Caesar salad

Italian bread

fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

Thursday

cooking spray

olive oil

onion

garlic

arborio rice

dry white wine

reduced-sodium chicken broth

salt

ground red pepper

packaged frozen petite green peas

lean cooked ham

fontina cheese

flat-leaf parsley

salad greens

crusty bread

pears

oatmeal cookies

Friday

Parmesan cheese

carrots

flat-leaf parsley

bread sticks

chocolate fudge sauce

Saturday

boneless beef top loin steaks

olive oil

jumbo onion

red and green bell pepper

garlic

salt

reduced-sodium chicken broth

red wine vinegar

sugar

cherry tomatoes

fresh basil

fresh spinach

crusty bread

sorbet

Mustard Lamb Chops (Sunday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes; marinating time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

8 loin lamb chops, 4 to 5 ounces each, 1 1/2 inches thick, well-trimmed, edges scored

freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 or 5 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish

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