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.
Make your own grilled chicken breasts for the family today. Accompany the chicken with Picadillo-Style Rice (see recipe). Add steamed fresh asparagus on the side, as well as crusty bread. For dessert, Pineapple Aloha is easy. In a shallow baking dish, top canned pineapple chunks (drained) with sweetened shredded coconut and chopped almonds. Broil just until coconut and nuts are lightly browned.
Plan ahead: Grill 4 extra chicken breasts and save half the rice for Monday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Chicken and Rice Roll-Ups are quick. Shred leftover chicken breasts and combine with Sunday's rice dish. Moisten with a little fat-free chicken broth or honey mustard and spoon in center of large flour tortillas lined with a lettuce leaf; roll and serve. Use steamed fresh spinach as a side. Dessert will be quick with fat-free pound cake with berries and light whipped cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Tuesday.
Add money to your vacation fund when you serve inexpensive Angel Hair Pasta With Tomatoes and Fresh Basil (see recipe). Add a mixed green salad and Italian bread. For dessert, leftover cake goes well with fat-free chocolate ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Friday.
Pronto Paella speaks for itself -- it's that quick (see recipe). Serve with a packaged green salad and sourdough bread. Fresh fruit is a light dessert.
Plan ahead: To save time, cook Thursday's rice today.
Enjoy flavorful Corn, Rice and Sweet Potato Hash (see recipe) for a vegetarian feast. Accompany the colorful melange with fresh green beans and corn bread from a mix. For a quick dessert, serve cookies and sliced peaches.
Plan ahead: Make 2 cups extra green beans for Friday.
The kids can have their own fast food tonight with grilled chicken breast sandwiches from the supermarket freezer. The sandwiches are kid-perfect. Add chopped lettuce and sliced tomatoes and low-fat mayonnaise to the sandwiches. Adults might want sliced pickles and mustard, too. Accompany the sandwiches with new potatoes and leftover green beans.
The kids will remember the leftover chocolate ice cream and they'll want marshmallow topping over it.
Be a good host and serve Zesty Lamb Chops to your guests (see recipe). Alongside, rice tossed with chopped fresh mint goes well. So do honey carrots. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons each of vegetable oil and cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add 1 (10-ounce) bag shredded carrots. Toss well and serve at room temperature. Add crusty bread. Sorbet makes a refreshing dessert.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
chicken breast halves
green bell pepper
canned pineapple chunks
sweetened shredded coconut
fat-free chicken broth or honey mustard
large flour tortillas
fat-free pound cake
light whipped cream
angel hair pasta
canned Italian-style tomatoes
fat-free chocolate ice cream
fat-free chicken broth
packaged yellow rice
frozen cooked, peeled shrimp
canned artichoke hearts
frozen green peas
packaged green salad
frozen whole- kernel corn
canned black beans
fresh green beans
corn bread mix
grilled chicken breast sandwiches
fat-free chicken broth
loin lamb chops
packaged shredded carrots
Picadillo-Style Rice (Sunday)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 30 minutes
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, diced
2 cups water
1/4 cup each: raisins and pimento-stuffed olives, rinsed and chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
In a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook onion and green pepper until softened, about 5 minutes.