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
Keep the family cool today with Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo Salad (see recipe). Accompany the flavorful salad with a platter of sliced tomatoes. Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and garnish with finely chopped parsley. Add crusty bread. Finish on a sweet note with Marinated Summer Fruits (see recipe).
Plan ahead: Save enough rotisserie chicken and enough marinated fruit for Monday.
Monday / Heat and Eat
Stay on the cool theme with Chef's Salad Italiano. In a large serving bowl, combine 8 cups chopped romaine, 1 pound fresh sliced mushrooms, 2 cups chopped cooked (rotisserie) chicken, 1/2 cup sliced provolone cheese cut into strips (about 2 ounces), 1 medium tomato cut into wedges and 1/2 medium thinly sliced red onion. Pour 1/3 cup reduced-fat Caesar salad dressing over all and toss to coat. Serve with Italian bread.
Leftover marinated fruit and cookies are ready for dessert.
It's summer, and kids and chili dogs go together. Buy reduced-fat dogs and top with store-bought turkey chili. Don't forget the buns. Serve with frozen oven fries. Celery and jicama sticks provide the crunch.
No one will object to frozen ice cream treats for dessert -- because it's summer and we all remember when we were kids.
Wednesday / Budget
What can beat a Tuna Salad Sandwich (see recipe) on whole wheat toast -- or even poppy-seed bagels -- for flavor and low cost? Serve with deli three-bean salad.
Watermelon is a refreshing dessert.
Clair Criscuolo knows something about vegetarian cooking after owning one of the nation's oldest vegetarian restaurants, Claire's Corner Copia, in New Haven, Conn., since 1975 and writing a number of cookbooks. Try her Stewed Zucchini and Tomatoes Over Arborio Rice (see recipe) tonight. Serve with mixed greens and sourdough bread.
Serve store-bought brownies for dessert. Plan ahead: Buy enough brownies for Friday.
Try any packaged turkey and stuffing (Banquet's Homestyle Bakes Creamy Turkey and Stuffing is one brand), and you'll have dinner on the table in 30 to 35 minutes. (If there aren't enough vegetables in the meal kit for your taste, microwave and drain a 10-ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables and add to the vegetable / gravy mixture in the package.) Bake as directed. Serve with a packaged green salad and bread.
Add leftover brownies and fresh fruit for dessert.
Saturday / Entertaining
Invite friends over for Beef and Corn Kebabs (see recipe). Serve the kebabs with rice tossed with chopped fresh chives and a little butter or margarine. Add a Boston lettuce salad and whole wheat rolls. For dessert, top fat-free strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries.
What you'll need for this week's menus (consult recipes for exact amounts)
red wine vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
store-bought rotisserie chicken
jar roasted red peppers
fresh chives, basil and oregano
canned water-packed artichoke hearts
crumbled feta cheese
light brown sugar
fresh pineapple chunks
fresh sliced mushrooms
reduced-fat Caesar salad dressing
reduced-fat hot dogs
canned turkey chili
hot dog buns
frozen oven fries
frozen ice cream dessert
canned water-packed albacore tuna
whole wheat bread
deli three-bean salad
extra-virgin olive oil
dried or fresh oregano
dry white wine
arborio rice (Italian risotto rice)
Packaged turkey and stuffing bake (Banquet is one brand)
packaged green salad
well-trimmed sirloin steak
rice wine vinegar
butter or margarine
whole wheat rolls
fat-free strawberry ice cream
Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo Salad (Sunday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: orzo, see package
6 ounces orzo pasta (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 minced garlic clove
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked, skinless chicken breast from a store-bought rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup halved, rinsed and drained kalamata olives