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

MENU PLANNER

January 16, 2000

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

This Arroz con Pollo (see recipe) will help you accomplish one of your New Year's resolutions -- spending more time with the family. You can save some time by cooking in your microwave, not just reheating. Serve the quick, flavorful chicken/rice combo with fresh broccoli spears and add sourdough bread. For dessert, store-bought vanilla pudding, swirled with caramel sauce, is easy.

Plan ahead: Save enough caramel sauce for Monday. Save the leftover pimentos for Saturday.

Monday/Kids

Save time and please the kids at the same time with slow-cooker Black Bean Chili (see recipe). Serve over rice with crunchy carrot sticks on the side. Corn bread from a mix goes well. For dessert, top fat-free vanilla ice cream with leftover caramel sauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Monday.

Tuesday/Heat and Eat

Like many wines, some leftovers improve with age. Tonight's leftover chili served over spaghetti and topped with sliced scallions is just as good or better than when you first prepared it. Serve with mixed greens and crusty bread. For dessert, gingersnaps and chunky applesauce are quick.

Wednesday/Express

Make Fast-Track Vegetable Soup tonight. Microwave 1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables according to directions; drain. In a large pot, combine cooked vegetables, 1 (10-ounce) can French onion soup, 1 (11-ounce) can tomato rice soup and 1 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until hot.

Serve with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches made with shredded, reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese on dense white bread. Use cooking spray instead of butter on the grill side of the bread. Sliced jalapeno peppers add a little zing to the sandwiches. Add a packaged green salad. For dessert, fresh fruit and chocolate sandwich cookies are the sweet answer to simplicity.

Thursday/Meatless

I'm always at the table early for Baked Stuffed Potatoes, especially these (see recipe). Serve with a green salad and whole-wheat rolls. Make brownies from a mix for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Friday.

Friday/Budget

Can you believe a husband would request Tuna Noodle Casserole (see recipe) for a birthday dinner? Mine did for an obvious reason -- his mother used to make it. (I've lightened the recipe, hoping she won't notice.) We always have it with a green salad and bread sticks. She would approve of leftover brownies with peach slices for dessert.

Saturday/Easy Entertaining

You always win rave reviews for your favorite lamb chop recipe, so serve that to guests tonight. Accompany your chops with Couscous with Currants on the side (see recipe). Add steamed spinach and baguettes to your meal. For a light dessert, orange sherbet garnished with orange zest (orange part only) is refreshing.

Shopping list

Sunday

Onion

green bell pepper

olive oil

green olives

jar of pimentos

capers

crumbled red peppers

dried oregano

quick-cooking rice

tomato sauce

fat-free chicken broth

bone-in skinless chicken breasts

paprika

fresh broccoli

sourdough bread

store-bought vanilla pudding

caramel sauce

Monday

Pork tenderloin

thick chunky salsa

canned black beans

fat-free chicken broth

red bell pepper

onion

cumin

chili powder

oregano

fat-free sour cream

rice

carrot sticks

cornbread mix

fat-free vanilla ice cream

Tuesday

Spaghetti

scallions

salad greens

crusty bread

gingersnaps

chunky applesauce

Wednesday

Frozen mixed vegetables

canned French onion and tomato rice soups

shredded, reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

dense white bread

cooking spray

sliced jalapeno peppers

packaged green salad

fresh fruit

chocolate sandwich cookies

Thursday

Baking potatoes

crumbled feta cheese

sliced black olives

salt

pepper

fresh chives

salad greens

whole-wheat rolls

brownie mix

Friday

Cooking spray

eggless noodles

canned water-packed tuna

reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup

frozen tiny peas

salt

pepper

shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

salad greens

bread sticks

peaches

Saturday

Ingredients for lamb chops

lemons

extra-virgin olive oil

salt

turmeric

plain couscous

currants

scallions

fresh spinach

baguettes

orange sherbet

orange

Arroz Con Pollo (Sunday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 13 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

1 medium chopped onion

1 medium chopped green bell pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sliced green olives

1 tablespoon chopped pimento (from 2-ounce jar)

1 teaspoon rinsed and drained capers

1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 cup quick-cooking rice

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

4 (6 1/2- to 7-ounce) skinless chicken breasts with bone

paprika for garnish

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