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

MENU PLANNER

May 07, 2000|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

Mother will give you an extra hug and an increase in your allowance when you serve her Chicken Citrus Salad (see recipe) to celebrate her day. Add whole-wheat rolls. Start the meal with chilled tomato juice over ice and add a rib of celery with leaves as garnish. Mom always appreciates any devil's food cake with chocolate icing to remind her of her precious angels.

Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Monday.

Monday/Kids

Mothers know everything -- including that most kids love steak -- so Cubed Steaks With Mushrooms (see recipe) is an inexpensive way to treat the darlings. Serve the steaks with your own mashed potatoes and store-bought brown gravy. Cook a 16-ounce bag of baby carrots 6 to 8 minutes in salted water; drain and add 1 teaspoon margarine or butter and 1 tablespoon honey and mix. Add bread. Leftover cake stars as dessert.

Tuesday/Meatless

Italians like their comfort food, too, and Country-Style Pasta and Beans (see recipe) shows why. Serve with mixed greens and garlic bread. Add fresh fruit and cookies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save half the pasta and beans for Wednesday.

Wednesday/Heat & Eat

Use Tuesday's leftover pasta and beans for Stuffed Peppers tonight. Core, seed and rinse four medium fresh bell peppers, any color (red, green, yellow or orange). Place cut side down, in a shallow baking dish. Add 1 tablespoon water, cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per pepper. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. While peppers stand, reheat pasta and beans (1 minute on high per cup). Stuff the peppers with bean mixture and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with a spinach salad and Italian bread. Make brownies from a mix for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Thursday.

Thursday/Budget

No one will believe you saved money with delicious Walnut Couscous and Tuna Towers (see recipe). Start your meal with any broth-based canned soup. Serve with whole-wheat pita bread. Make leftover brownies and fruit your dessert.

Friday/Express

We tried several of the new Michael Angelo's (or another brand) frozen pasta bowls. I liked Angel Hair Pomodoro; husband preferred Chicken Milano. The label says 2 servings per bowl, but I say 1 1/2 at most. You could stretch the $3 bowls (12 ounces) and save money. Serve with a packaged salad and crusty bread. Cookies are a quick dessert.

Saturday/Entertaining

Put the really easy into entertaining and serve this Shrimp Creole (see recipe). Serve with rice garnished with chopped parsley. Add a green salad and baguettes. Warmed store-bought bread pudding with homemade bourbon sauce is the perfect dessert. For the sauce: In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup margarine or butter. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Over medium-high, cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 6 minutes or until mixture boils and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons bourbon. Spoon over bread pudding while both pudding and sauce are still warm.

Shopping list

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

Sunday

chilled, canned or fresh orange and grapefruit sections

vegetable oil

packaged cooked, sliced or chopped chicken breast

red onion

fat-free chicken broth

orange and grapefruit juices

store-bought mango chutney

package baby spinach leaves

whole-wheat rolls

tomato juice

celery

any devil's food cake with chocolate icing

Monday

cooking spray

sliced white mushrooms

salt

dried thyme

parsley

cubed or minute steaks

potatoes to mash

store-bought brown gravy

packaged baby carrots

margarine or butter

honey

bread

Tuesday

ditalini or orzo pasta

olive oil

onion

carrot

celery

garlic

canned cannellini beans

canned stewed tomatoes

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

Parmesan cheese

parsley

salad greens

garlic bread

fresh fruit

cookies

Wednesday

any fresh bell peppers

Parmesan cheese

fresh spinach

Italian bread

brownie mix

Thursday

cooking spray

onion

large grain couscous or Israeli pasta

walnuts

water-packed tuna

green olives

capers

parsley

lemon

salt

pepper

endive (frisee)

reduced-calorie red-wine vinaigrette

tomatoes

broth-based canned soup

whole-wheat pita bread

fruit

Friday

Michael Angelo (or another brand) frozen pasta bowls

packaged green salad

crusty bread

cookies

Saturday

olive oil

onion

green bell pepper

garlic

canned diced tomatoes and green chilies

diced pimentos

salt

black pepper

fresh shrimp

rice

parsley

salad greens

baguettes

store-bought bread pudding

margarine or butter

sugar

egg

bourbon

Chicken Citrus Salad (Sunday)

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes

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