A guide to preparing a week's worth of meals

MENU PLANNER

October 08, 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

Make it family time with Lamb Kebabs With Bacon and Cilantro. Serve the kebabs with orzo and a mixed green salad. For dessert, buy a coconut layer cake.

Plan ahead: Save 2 kebabs and leftover cake and prepare enough orzo for Monday.

Lamb Kebabs With Bacon and Cilantro

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes Standing: 5 minutes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons each cumin, paprika and black pepper

3 large crushed garlic cloves

2 tablespoons each olive oil and beef broth

1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed, 1-inch lamb cubes

12 whole white mushrooms

6 slices thick bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces

3 medium quartered onions

4 green, red or yellow bell peppers (any combination)

Heat grill. In a small bowl combine cilantro, cumin, paprika, black pepper, garlic, oil and broth to make a paste. Rub paste on all sides of lamb. Start (and end) 6 skewers with mushrooms. Alternately thread the lamb, bacon, onions and bell peppers on skewers. Grill 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Let kebabs stand 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 373 calories, 28 grams protein, 23 grams fat (56 percent calories from fat), 7.3 grams saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

MONDAY / Heat and Eat

Make Lamb Pitas tonight. Line whole wheat pitas with lettuce leaves. Dice and heat the leftover kebabs and mix with 3 cups hot cooked orzo and a little beef broth; stuff pitas with mixture. Serve with grated carrots and chopped dried apricots moistened with fat-free vanilla yogurt. Leftover cake works for dessert.

TUESDAY / Express

We tried Uncle Ben's new Noodle Bowls. It's a quick fix for dinner but may be a little spicy for kids. (It may also be too salty for adults who are watching their sodium intake.) Serve the bowls with a packaged green salad and whole wheat rolls. Crunch on peanut butter cookies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Thursday.

WEDNESDAY / Kids

Make Baked Tacos for kids night and serve with rice. Let the kids help prepare and layer instant chocolate and vanilla pudding (made with skim milk) in a pretty tall dessert dish and call it black and white parfait. (Use iced-tea spoons to fill the parfait glasses. Expect a mess, but the kids will have fun and so should you.)

Plan ahead: Save 3 cups cooked rice for Saturday.

Baked Tacos

Makes 8 tacos

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

12 ounces ground turkey breast

1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained pinto beans

1 cup mild salsa

4 teaspoons lower sodium taco seasoning

8 fat-free flour tortillas (6- or 7-inch)

shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, reduced-fat shredded Monterrey Jack cheese for garnishes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add turkey and cook 4 or 5 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Add beans, salsa and taco seasoning. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 5 or 6 minutes, stirring and mashing some of the beans as you stir, until thickened. Spoon turkey mixture into center of each tortilla. Fold in half. Press down gently and place on prepared cookie sheet. Coat tortillas with cooking spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese as desired.

Per taco: 195 calories, 15 grams protein, 1 gram fat (7 percent calories from fat), 0.2 grams saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 29 milligrams cholesterol, 596 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

THURSDAY / Meatless

Soup always tastes good on cool nights, as will this Lentil and Corn Soup. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 2 19-ounce cans lentil soup, 1 10-ounce package frozen corn and 2 teaspoons curry powder and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Serve with grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches on dense white bread. (Use reduced-fat sharp cheese.) Add a mixed green salad.

For dessert, leftover cookies can go with fresh fruit chunks.

FRIDAY / Budget

Pinch a few pennies tonight and serve Spaghetti With Tuna and Spinach. Add a green salad and garlic bread. Serve pineapple sherbet for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough sherbet for Saturday.

Spaghetti With Tuna and Spinach

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: about 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes plus pasta

12 ounces spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups sliced onion

4 minced garlic cloves

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