A guide to preparing a week's worth of meals

MENU PLANNER

September 17, 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

Enjoy lots of compliments when you serve Spicy Marinated Top Round to the family. Accompany it with colorful Carrots And Green Beans With Dill. Add small boiled red potatoes and whole wheat rolls to the meal. Serve with store-bought German chocolate cake.

Plan ahead: Save enough beef, carrots and green beans and cake for Monday.

Spicy Marinated Top Round

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Marinating time: 4 hours to overnight

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste (see Note)

2 pounds boneless top sirloin (1 1/2 inches thick)

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, ginger, sugar and chili paste and mix well. Score (see Note) steak on both sides. Place in bag, turn to coat and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight. Heat broiler. Remove steak and discard marinade. Coat broiling rack with cooking spray. Broil 6 inches from heat 15 minutes for medium rare; turn once. Remove to platter; let stand 5 minutes.

Notes: Look for Asian chili paste in Asian markets or large supermarkets. To score: make shallow cuts about 2 inches apart on the diagonal in a diamond pattern.

Per serving: 167 calories, 26 grams protein, 6 grams fat (34 percent calories from fat), 2.4 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 116 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carrots With Green Beans and Dill

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

12 ounces whole baby carrots

1 1/2 pounds trimmed fresh green beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried

1 cup water

2 teaspoons margarine or butter

2 tablespoons chopped onion

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook carrots, beans, salt and dill in water 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened; drain. Remove from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan, coat with cooking spray and heat over medium. Melt 2 teaspoons margarine or butter and add onion and cook 1 or 2 minutes or until onions are softened. Add reserved vegetables and toss to coat. Reheat if necessary.

Per serving: 68 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 0.3 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 229 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

MONDAY / Heat and Eat

Make a steak sandwich tonight. Thinly slice leftover steak and place on pumpernickel bread spread with low-fat mayonnaise and a little prepared horseradish. Add Dijon mustard if you like. Top with lettuce and a second slice of bread. Add 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 plum tomatoes cut into wedges and some light vinaigrette to the leftover chilled green beans and carrots; toss to coat. Voila, you have a salad! If you have leftover potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces and add to your salad creation. Add salt and pepper to taste. For dessert, how about leftover cake?

TUESDAY / Express

Make it quick tonight with Chili Pita Stacks. Cook 1 15-ounce can low-fat turkey chili and 4 frozen (or fresh) turkey burgers according to directions. Toast 4 whole wheat pitas. To assemble: Place pita in center of dinner plate. Lay cooked patties on pitas. Spoon chili over burger. Top with shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese and sliced scallions. Add chopped jalapeno peppers if desired. Serve with frozen potato wedges. Coat the potatoes with cooking spray and sprinkle with cayenne pepper for some added flavor. Add a romaine salad. For a refreshing dessert, serve fresh pineapple chunks.

WEDNESDAY/Budget

Saving money warms my heart, and Spaghetti With Clam Sauce will warm your tummy. Serve with a red leaf lettuce salad and garlic bread. Make instant pistachio pudding with skim milk for dessert.

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes plus pasta

12 ounces spaghetti

2 6-ounce cans clams with liquid

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves sliced garlic

18-ounce bottle clam juice

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

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