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
Treat the family to this juicy, cut-with-a-fork Sweet and Savory Pot Roast today. Serve with mashed potatoes. Steam fresh spinach alongside and add dinner rolls. Scoop fat-free vanilla ice cream into dessert dishes and add lemon cookies.
Plan ahead: Save enough pot roast, mashed potatoes and cookies and buy enough spinach for Monday.
Save enough ice cream for Saturday.
Sweet and Savory Pot Roast
Makes 16 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 3 hours
Standing time: 10 minutes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 4-pound eye of round roast
1 / 4 cup each sugar and honey
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 / 4 teaspoon each pepper and ground cloves
2 thinly sliced onions
Heat oven to 300. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, honey, juice, salt, pepper and cloves. Add to roast along with onions. Bake, covered, 3 hours or until tender. Let stand 10 minutes, remove to cutting board and slice. Skim fat from drippings and spoon over roast.
Per serving: 194 calories, 25 grams protein, 6 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 61 milligrams cholesterol, 206 milligrams sodium, trace fiber.
MONDAY / Heat and Eat
Use leftover pot roast and turn it into Italian Beef Sandwiches tonight. Heat cooked sliced beef in a canned beef broth seasoned with garlic, oregano and basil (or regular broth). Serve on Italian rolls with store-bought drained roasted red peppers. Make Potato Patties from leftover mashed potatoes. For 4 patties, mix 1 beaten egg with 2 to 2 1/2 cups chilled mashed potatoes. Shape into 3- to 4-inch patties; dust with flour. Melt 1 tablespoon margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook patties 10 minutes or until heated through; turn once. Add a spinach salad. For dessert, canned tropical fruits with leftover cookies works just fine.
TUESDAY / Budget
This Sausage and Sauerkraut Skillet is economical and is perfect for colder winter evenings. Serve with a mixed green salad and pumpernickel bread. Buy a layer cake for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Wednesday.
Sausage and Sauerkraut Skillet
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: less than 25 minutes
7 ounces reduced-fat kielbasa, cut diagonally into 1-inch slices
1 pound red potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cups shredded carrots (about 5 ounces)
1 16-ounce package refrigerated sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
2 cored, unpeeled Golden Delicious apples cut into chunks
1/3 cup water or fat-free chicken broth
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage and cook 3 or 4 minutes or until golden; stir occasionally. Add potatoes, carrots, sauerkraut, apples and water or broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 18 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Per serving: 240 calories, 10 grams protein, 2 grams fat (7 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 1196 milligrams sodium, 10 grams fiber.
WEDNESDAY / EXPRESS
For super convenience, try Classico's (or another brand) It's Pasta Anytime, a shelf-stable pasta with sauce that requires no refrigeration. We tried all four flavors and thought the better two of the lot were the Penne With Tomato Mushroom Sauce and the Spaghetti With Traditional Tomato Sauce. We didn't like the ones with a mystery-meat flavor. The convenience (ready in 3 minutes) is the reason to keep one or two of the $2.99 packages on hand, not the flavor. Add a packaged green salad and garlic bread. Bring out the leftover cake for dessert.
THURSDAY / MEATLESS
Enjoy Mediterranean Stir-Fry tonight. Serve with a colorful red tip lettuce salad and whole wheat rolls. Make Marshmallow Crispie Treats (my father's favorite) for dessert. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, microwave 3 tablespoons margarine on high (100 percent power) 45 seconds or until melted. Add 1 10-ounce package regular size marshmallows (38 to 40) and toss to coat with margarine. Microwave 45 seconds and stir. Add another 45 seconds and stir until smooth. Immediately add 6 cups crisp rice cereal (like Rice Krispies); mix lightly until well-coated. Press into baking dish and cool. Cut into 24 squares.
Plan ahead: Pop, save enough Crispie Treats for Friday.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: less than 20 minutes
Cooking time: less than 20 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sliced scallions
1 medium chopped carrot