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.
Flavorful Peach Lamb Kebabs (see recipe) will be a family favorite. Serve the sweet and tangy combination with rice and sugar snap peas. Add baguettes. Make a chocolate marble cake from a mix and go easy on any icing to save on calories.
Plan ahead: Save half the kebabs and enough cake for Monday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Heat the leftover lamb and vegetables and serve over couscous (moisten the lamb and vegetables with a little broth or water if mixture seems too dry). Sprinkle with toasted sesame seed and sliced scallions. Add a green salad and sourdough bread. Leftover cake makes a quick dessert
Pick up a rotisserie chicken at your market, remove the skin and serve it with wild mushroom risotto (Quick Pot by Spice Hunter is one brand) or another flavor. (Be good to yourself and make it without adding butter.) Serve with a packaged green salad and multigrain rolls. Fresh fruit chunks make a simple dessert.
Tonight's Skillet Chili (see recipe) is high in fiber and easy to prepare. Serve with a crisp lettuce wedge with a light vinaigrette. Crumble a little blue cheese over the salad for added flavor. Add crusty bread. For dessert, oatmeal cookies are on everyone's list of favorites.
Plan ahead: Buy enough blue cheese and save enough cookies for Thursday.
All budgets could use a little squeeze every now and then, and these Ham and Pear Pitas (see recipe) will do it tastily.
Serve the economical, quick-fix meal with your own or deli pasta salad. Finish with leftover cookies and fat-free strawberry ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.
Kids' Beef and Mac Supper (see recipe) will bring them to the table on time. Serve with a chopped lettuce salad and bread.
Keep them at the table a little longer with a slurpy apricot smoothie.
In a blender, combine 1 15 1/4 -ounce can of almond-flavored (or plain) chilled apricot halves and juice, 1 8-ounce container low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt, 2 or 3 drops pure vanilla extract and 6 to 8 ice cubes.
Cover and blend on high until smooth. Add more ice cubes to make it thicker if desired.
Make entertaining easy tonight and use the slow cooker to make Italian Pot Roast (see recipe).
Serve with spaghetti tossed in a little olive oil and the sauce from the meat.
Add a mixed green salad and sesame bread sticks. For dessert, top store-bought brownies with leftover strawberry ice cream.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
lamb for cubes
green and red bell peppers
whole fresh mushrooms
fat-free chicken broth
sugar snap peas
chocolate marble cake mix
ingredients for or store-bought icing
store-bought rotisserie chicken
wild mushroom risotto boxed mix
packaged green salad
fresh fruit chunks
canned diced tomatoes and green chilies
canned black beans
ingredients for or store-bought light vinaigrette
whole wheat pitas
ingredients for or deli pasta salad
fat-free strawberry ice cream
lean ground beef
frozen tiny green peas
canned almond-flavored (or plain) apricots
low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
pure vanilla extract
boneless beef bottom round roast
canned Italian-style or stewed tomatoes
dry red wine (if using)
sesame bread sticks
Peach Lamb Kebabs (Sunday)
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time less than 45 minutes
1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed cubed lamb
1 green bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red onions cut into 4 wedges each
16 whole fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup peach preserves
2 tablespoons each soy sauce and water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free chicken broth
1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and cornstarch