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 / Entertaining
Celebrate the millennium with Prime Rib with Chipotle Butter. (Shop warehouse clubs and large supermarkets for deals on prime rib.) Serve with Roasted Potatoes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes cut into bite-size pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste. Spread potatoes evenly in pan covered in foil and roast 45 minutes or until tender; stir once. Add a fresh spinach salad and dinner rolls. Sorbet is right for dessert. Now, toast the new year with a glass of Champagne.
Prime Rib with Chipotle Butter
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes
2 tablespoons each softened butter and minced shallots
1/2 tablespoon each chopped cilantro, chopped chipotle peppers and fresh lime juice
1 / 4 teaspoon salt
4 fully cooked beef prime rib slices, 3 / 4 to 1 inch (about 8 to 10 ounces)
In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, shallots, cilantro, peppers, lime juice and salt. Beat on high until light and fluffy; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Place 2 prime ribs in skillet and sear 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through; turn once. Transfer beef to platter, cover and keep warm. Repeat with other 2 prime ribs. Divide into 8 servings. Top each steak with dollop of chipotle butter. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 312 calories, 17 grams protein, 27 grams fat (78 percent calories from fat), 12 grams saturated fat, trace carbohydrate, 79 milligrams cholesterol, 844 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
MONDAY / Entertaining
Invite the gang over for food, fun and football and enjoy a relaxing day by serving deli sliced ham for sandwiches on multigrain bread and deli coleslaw. Make Hoppin' John for good luck. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook 1 small chopped onion, and 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery 5 minutes or until softened. Add 1 cup long-grain rice, 2 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth and 1 10-ounce package frozen black-eyed peas. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped deli ham and serve. Try Lazy Daisy Cake for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough coleslaw and cake for Tuesday.
Lazy Daisy Cake
Makes 20 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: cake plus icing
1 18 1/2 -ounce white or yellow cake mix
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 / 4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter
1 / 4 cup fat-free half and half (or milk)
Bake cake as directed in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan coated with cooking spray; use the egg white version. Cool completely and leave in pan. Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix together coconut, sugar, margarine or butter and half and half or milk. Spoon mixture (it will be soupy) evenly over top of cake. Broil just until sugar melts and coconut begins to brown. Stand by the oven, because the topping can go from brown to burned in a moment. Remove pan from oven, cool and serve.
Per serving: 230 calories, 2 grams protein,12 grams fat (48 percent calories from fat), 3.5 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 229 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
TUESDAY / Budget
The bell has rung -- it's time for some serious cost-cutting and Creamy Vegetable Soup will help the effort. Serve with crackers and leftover coleslaw. Bring out the leftover cake for dessert.
Creamy Vegetable Soup
Makes 10 cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes
1 tablespoon margarine
1 large chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 20-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
3 14 1/2 -ounce cans fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 6-ounce can chicken breast with liquid (or 1 cooked and chopped skinless chicken breast)
1/2 cup fat-free half and half or milk
In a Dutch oven, melt margarine over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add vegetables, broth and water. Bring to boil; lower heat to low and simmer 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add chicken and half and half or milk. Heat through (do not boil) and serve.
Per cup: 98 calories, 8 grams protein, 3 grams fat (23 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 369 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
WEDNESDAY / Meatless