A guide to preparing a week's worth of meals

MENU PLANNER

September 03, 2000|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

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

Prepare your own baked ham for the family today. Along side, serve Couscous Salad With Dried Cherries. Add steamed fresh green beans and dinner rolls. Buy a deep-dish apple pie for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough ham and pie for Monday.

Couscous Salad and Dried Cherries

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: couscous, pine nuts

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

3 / 4 cup couscous

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped unpeeled, seeded cucumber

1 / 4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1 / 4 cup toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon each olive oil and Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups salad greens

In a medium saucepan, bring broth to boil; stir in couscous. Remove from heat; let stand, covered 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Uncover and let cool 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine cooked couscous, cherries, carrots, cucumber, scallions and pine nuts; toss to mix. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil and mustard; mix well. Pour dressing over couscous mixture; stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place salad greens on a serving platter. Spoon couscous over greens.

Per serving: 135 calories, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 119 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

MONDAY/ Heat and Eat

With Sunday's leftover ham, make Ham and Three-Bean Salad.

All you need to add to your meal is crusty bread and, of course, leftover pie.

Makes 6 servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

1 1/2 cups well-trimmed chopped ham (see note)

8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms

1 7-ounce jar drained roasted red peppers, cut into strips

1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained cannellini beans

1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained kidney beans

1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained black beans

2 ribs sliced celery

1/2 cup coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

2 / 3 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing

1 / 4 cup chopped fresh parsley

8 cups salad greens

In a large bowl, combine ham, mushrooms, peppers, all the beans, celery and 1 / 4 cup of the cheese. Add dressing and parsley; toss to coat well. Spoon on to serving platter covered with salad greens. Serve topped with remaining cheese.

Note: To reduce the sodium, use less ham or substitute cooked chicken for the ham.

Per serving: 299 calories, 23 grams protein, 6 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 22 milligrams cholesterol, 1724 milligrams sodium, 13 grams fiber.

TUESDAY / Budget

Lighten your food expenditures and calories with this Open-Faced Turkey Reuben Sandwich. Serve with deli German potato salad and dill pickles. Add fruit for dessert.

Open-Faced Turkey Reuben Sandwich

Makes 4 sandwiches

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 2 minutes

1 / 4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

2 cups refrigerated sauerkraut (see note)

4 slices rye bread

8 thin slices Swiss cheese

8 thin slices turkey (see note)

Heat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup and relish and mix well. Rinse and squeeze dry sauerkraut and add to dressing; toss together to mix well. Arrange bread on a cookie sheet. On each slice, layer half the cheese (cut to fit bread), all the turkey and 1/2 cup sauerkraut mixture; top each slice with remaining Swiss cheese. Bake 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Note: To reduce the sodium, rinse the sauerkraut and use your own baked turkey instead of deli turkey.

Per serving: 263 calories, 16 grams protein, 11 grams fat (36 percent calories from fat), 5.3 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 1243 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

WEDNESDAY / Express

Make Orange and Black Bean Salad for a quick meal tonight. In a large bowl, toss together 1 package romaine lettuce, 1 9- or 10-ounce package grilled chicken breast strips, cut into chunks, 2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained black beans, 1 11-ounce can drained Mandarin orange sections, 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onions and 1/2 cup (or more to taste) fresh sliced mushrooms with 1/3 cup light vinaigrette. Divide among 4 plates. Serve with any muffins. Instant vanilla pudding made with skim milk makes dessert easy.

THURSDAY / Kids

Surprise the kids (and adults)with this easy Chicken Noodle Skillet with a secret ingredient -- radishes! Serve with a spinach salad and whole wheat rolls. Lime sherbet is a cool dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough sherbet for Saturday.

Chicken Noodle Skillet

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

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