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

Menu Planner

May 23, 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

The family will enjoy the fresh flavor of your own boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast halves (2 to 2 1/2 pounds) served with Teriyaki-Lemon Sauce. In a small skillet, combine 1/4 cup each of fresh lemon juice and soy sauce, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon water, 1 clove garlic (minced) and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 or 3 minutes. Spoon over chicken.

Accompany the juicy chicken with brown rice tossed with toasted pine nuts. Add a spinach salad with a new twist: Toss raw spinach leaves, sliced fresh mushrooms, red onion slices and canned Mandarin orange sections together with a low-fat vinaigrette dressing. Add crusty bread to complete your meal.

Plan ahead: Grill 4 extra chicken breasts for Monday.

Monday/Heat and Eat

Chicken Caesar Salad makes a tasty main course (see recipe). Start your meal with your favorite canned soup and crackers. For dessert, put out a store-bought bread pudding.

Tuesday/Meatless

Tonight's Three-Bean Pasta salad is packed with flavor and fiber (see recipe). Add crusty bread. Sliced peaches, sprinkled with a little nutmeg, is a light dessert.

Wednesday/Express

Take it easy tonight and serve a grilled fish fillet and vegetables with a lemon herb sauce all in one package from the supermarket. I added extra frozen potato wedges to the pan, as the brand I chose directed. Each 15.7-ounce package serves 2 and works well for a quick meal. Don't overcook, or the fish will be dry and tough. Serve with a mixed green salad and multigrain bread.

Thursday/Kids

Reader Sharon Starks of Charlotte, N.C., a mother of three sons, swears by her Potato Chili (see recipe), a real kid-favorite at her house. We lapped it up, too. Serve with a lettuce and tomato salad. For dessert, try a canned tropical fruit salad and cookies.

Friday/Budget

The flavor is rich, but the cost is not for Capellini With Two Cheeses (see recipe). Accompany the creamy pasta with a green salad and bread sticks. For dessert, fresh berries are light.

Saturday/Entertaining

Invite your friends for a simple but savory Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry (see recipe). Serve the vitamin-packed combo over rice. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and drizzle with dark sesame oil. A fresh pineapple salad goes well. Finish your meal with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt garnished with toasted coconut and toasted sliced almonds.

Tip: Freeze steak 15 to 20 minutes to make slicing easier.

Shopping List

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

Sunday

boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

lemon

soy sauce

granulated sugar

brown sugar

garlic

ground ginger

brown rice

pine nuts

fresh spinach

fresh mushrooms

red onion

canned Mandarin orange sections

low-fat vinaigrette dressing

crusty bread

Monday

bottled low-fat Caesar dressing

black pepper

Romaine

cherry tomatoes

flavored croutons

Parmesan cheese

canned soup

crackers

bread pudding

Tuesday

medium or wide noodles

canned kidney beans

canned chickpeas

frozen green beans

red onion

red bell pepper

Dijon mustard

red-wine vinegar

fresh parsley

olive oil

crusty bread

peaches

nutmeg

Wednesday

grilled fish fillet and vegetables with lemon herb sauce

frozen potato wedges

salad greens

multigrain bread

Thursday

baking potatoes

lean ground beef

ground turkey

canned diced tomatoes and green chilies

canned cream-style corn

chili powder

cumin

salt

shredded Monterey Jack cheese

lettuce

tomatoes

canned tropical fruit salad

cookies

Friday

capellini pasta

Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Romano cheese

pepper

margarine or butter

fat-free half and half or milk

salad greens

bread sticks

fresh berries

Saturday

vegetable oil

flank steak

packaged frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, green beans, pearl onions, red peppers or another combination)

bottled stir-fry sauce

rice

scallions

dark sesame oil

fresh pineapple

lettuce

fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt

coconut

sliced almonds

Chicken Caesar Salad (Monday)

Makes 4 salads

Preparation time: less than

15 minutes

1/2 cup bottled low-fat Caesar dressing, divided

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

10 cups torn Romaine lettuce

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 cup packaged, flavored croutons

4 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup dressing with pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl combine Romaine with tomatoes and croutons and toss with 1/4 cup dressing. Divide among 4 plates. Slice chicken on diagonal; divide evenly and place on salads. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with remaining dressing.

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