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

MENU PLANNER

April 25, 1999|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

This week's menus

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

Head for the south of France and enjoy Beef Steak Provencal (see recipe). The mashed potatoes you serve on the side aren't French, but the baguettes are. Good ol' American deep-dish peach cobbler (store-bought) makes for an international meal.

Plan ahead: Make 3 extra cups mashed potatoes and save half the steaks and vegetables and enough cobbler for Monday.

Monday/Heat and Eat

Barbecue and Potato Loaf takes advantage of Sunday's leftover meat and potatoes (see recipe). Slice and serve with Sunday's leftover vegetables and deli coleslaw (drain well). Add multigrain rolls. Don't forget to warm the leftover cobbler.

Plan ahead: Cook 1 cup rice (3 cups cooked) for Tuesday.

Tuesday/Meatless

Who would want meat when you serve Ginger Fried Rice (see recipe)? Start the meal with store-bought vegetarian vegetable soup. Make a fresh spinach salad to serve on the side. Add crusty bread and fresh fruit to complete a flavorful meal.

Wednesday/Express

For tonight's quick meal, pick up some frozen gourmet vegetable patties and serve them on toasted whole-wheat buns. Dress them up with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, low-fat mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. (Vegetable burgers need a lot of flavor help at our house, but it's worth the effort to reduce the fat.) Serve with store-bought hash brown potatoes. For dessert, treat yourself to fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt and caramel sauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough frozen yogurt for Friday.

Thursday/Kids

The kids won't be able to resist Drumstick and Bean Bake (see recipe). Substitute any kind of beans for the black beans in the recipe to please the little darlings. Add a chopped lettuce salad. For dessert, help the kids make carrot cake from a box mix. The brand I bought included everything needed except water -- even the pan. Forget the icing (you don't really need it, do you?) and cut the cake in eight portions, not the usual six.

Plan ahead: Save half the cake for Friday.

Friday/Budget

Tonight's meal of Onion Soup is a penny-pincher. In a large, nonstick skillet, saute 4 large (about 6 cups) sliced Vidalia or other sweet onions in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over low heat for 30 minutes. Add 2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans beef broth and 1 tablespoon sherry; heat 5 to 8 minutes or until hot. A grilled cheese sandwich made with 2 percent-milk cheese slices on dense white bread is an economical addition. Serve with a big mixed green salad. For dessert, combine leftover cake with leftover frozen vanilla yogurt for your own birthday-party dessert.

Saturday/Entertaining

Company's coming, and Herb Baked Chicken Breasts are as easy to fix as they are delicious (see recipe). Serve with couscous. Add frozen baby green peas with pearl onions and dinner rolls. For dessert, pick up a coconut cake from the store.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

garlic

dried basil

pepper

lean beef cube steaks

olive oil

zucchini

canned tomatoes

Parmesan cheese

cooking spray

salt

potatoes to mash

skim milk (for potatoes)

baguettes

deep-dish peach cobbler

Monday

cooking spray

thick barbecue sauce

reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

deli coleslaw

multigrain rolls

Tuesday

vegetable oil

fresh ginger

garlic

fresh snow peas

carrots

mushrooms

green onions

rice

soy sauce

sesame oil

white pepper

vegetarian vegetable soup

fresh spinach

crusty bread

fresh fruit

Wednesday

frozen gourmet vegetable patties

whole-wheat buns

lettuce

tomato

onion

pickles

low-fat mayonnaise

Dijon mustard

hash brown potatoes

fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

caramel sauce

Thursday

skinless chicken drumsticks

frozen whole- kernel corn

canned barbecued baked beans

canned black beans (or other beans)

onion

canned tomato sauce

baked corn chips

lettuce

carrot-cake mix

Friday

Vidalia or other sweet onions

vegetable oil

canned beef broth

sherry

2 percent-milk cheese slices

dense white bread

salad greens

Saturday

nonfat plain yogurt

skinless, bone-in chicken breasts

fresh herbs (mixture of any: oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil or parsley)

couscous

frozen baby green peas with pearl onions

dinner rolls

coconut cake

Beef Steak Provencal (Sunday)

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: under 20 minutes

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon pepper

8 lean beef cube steaks (about 4 ounces each)

4 teaspoons olive oil

8 small zucchini, thinly sliced

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can tomatoes, chopped and drained

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

cooking spray

1 teaspoon salt

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