A clip-and-save guide to a week's worth of meals
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.
Prepare pork tenderloins your way for the day's family feast. Serve with Pan Pacific Rice, a winning recipe in a rice-cooking contest. In a medium bowl, mix together 3 cups cooked long-grain rice, 1 cup sliced scallions, 3/4 cup salted cashews, 1/4 cup seasoned or plain rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold. Add steamed fresh broccoli and whole wheat rolls to the meal. Make the World's Easiest Banana Cream Pie (see recipe) for dessert.
Plan ahead: Prepare enough pork tenderloin and rice and save enough pie for Monday.
Monday/Heat and Eat
Tonight's Pork With Rice and Peas is easy. Cook 2 cups long grain rice according to directions without oil or salt; cool. In a small bowl, whisk 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites until frothy. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over low. Add eggs, cover and cook 8 minutes until almost set, but not browned. Turn, using a wide spatula, and cook 2 more minutes or until cooked through. Remove to cutting board and slice into strips. Recoat skillet with cooking spray, add 8 ounces (3 cups) sliced mushrooms and white part of 6 sliced scallions. Cook, stirring often, 4 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and are soft. Stir in cooked rice, cooked egg strips, 8 ounces cooked (leftover) chopped pork tenderloin, 2 cups frozen and thawed tiny green peas, 1 8-ounce can drained sliced water chestnuts and : cup stir-fry sauce. Cook, stirring often, 7 minutes or until heated through. Serve with fresh steamed summer squash and crusty bread. Finish with leftover pie.
Plan ahead: To save time, marinate the chicken for Tuesday.
Kids can't resist this Oven-Fried Chicken. Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk or fat-free plain yogurt, salt and pepper to taste and 1/8 teaspoon minced garlic. Pour over 4 4- or 5-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast halves. Turn to coat and cover. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours to overnight. When ready to bake, drain chicken well. Heat oven to 425. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup Italian or plain bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Coat chicken in crumb mixture; place on baking sheet covered with foil coated with cooking spray. Chill 15 minutes if time permits. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake 35 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is golden brown on outside. (Adapted from "Meals on the Move," Holly Clegg, Holly Clegg Publisher, 2000, $19.95. Serve with Tater Tots and store-bought carrot/raisin salad. They'll love biscuits, too, yours or store-bought. Popsicles are a cool and slurpy dessert.
Plan ahead: If time permits, cook and chill beets Wednesday.
Stuffed Pitas with Couscous (see recipe) will bring everyone to the table. Serve with Summer Beet Salad (see recipe). Fresh peaches for dessert speak summer best.
Tomato Tart (see recipe) takes a little extra time, but it's economical and the tasty results are worth it. Serve with corn on the cob and a mixed green salad. Pears and cookies are a good call for dessert.
Make it a quick dinner tonight and pick up some sliced smoked turkey breast from the deli. If time permits, serve it with Garden Vegetable Pilaf With Rice (Betty Crocker's is one brand; it's one of several varieties in the line that cost $1.19 in my market and could serve 4.) Pick up a packaged green salad and bread, too. Just add angel food cake from the bakery, and dinner is complete.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Saturday.
Expect applause when you serve your guests Chicken Breasts With Creamy Basil Sauce (see recipe). Serve with spaghetti. Add a fresh spinach salad on the side. For dessert, strawberry shortcake topped with light whipped cream will give you a standing ovation.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
seasoned or plain rice vinegar
whole wheat rolls
instant vanilla pudding
store-bought graham cracker pie crust
frozen fat-free whipped topping
frozen tiny green peas
canned sliced water chestnuts
fresh summer squash
buttermilk or fat-free plain yogurt
boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Italian or plain bread crumbs
store-bought carrot / raisin salad