A guide to preparing a week's worth of meals

MENU PLANNER

January 21, 2001|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

Gather the family for easy boneless Smothered Pork Loin Chops. Serve the chops with baked sweet potatoes and garnish with fresh orange slices. Add sugar snap peas and sourdough bread. For dessert, try store-bought coconut custard pie.

Plan ahead: Save 2 pork chops and any leftover pie for Monday.

Smothered Pork Loin Chops

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 14 1/2 -ounce can beef broth

1 / 8 teaspoon pepper

cooking spray

6- 1/2 -inch-thick boneless pork loin chops

1 medium sliced onion

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, broth and pepper; set aside. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high 1 minute. Cook chops until browned or about 5 minutes per side. (Cook in 2 batches if necessary.) Remove skillet from heat; remove chops. Wipe skillet with paper towels and recoat with cooking spray. Add onion and cook over medium heat until softened or about 5 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to skillet. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Return chops to pan. Cover and cook over low heat 5 minutes or until chops are done.

Per serving: 227 calories, 31 grams protein, 9 grams fat (36 percent calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 345 milligrams sodium, trace fiber.

MONDAY / Heat and Eat

Make a quick Pork Stir-Fry with Sunday's leftover sliced chops and a package of any frozen stir-fry vegetables. Mix the pork-vegetable combo with prepared stir-fry sauce and serve the mixture over rice. Add crusty bread.

If you're lucky, leftover pie is waiting for you for dessert.

TUESDAY / Express

Run into the store and wrap up tonight's dinner with Ranch Wraps. Heat canned pinto beans on the side. For dessert, oatmeal cookies and sliced peaches are easy.

Ranch Wraps

Makes 4 wraps

Preparation time: 10 minutes

8 thin slices cooked turkey breast

4 7- or 8-inch fat-free flour tortillas

1 large thinly sliced tomato

1 cup each shredded carrots and shredded lettuce

2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

1 / 4 cup reduced-fat ranch salad dressing

Place 2 slices turkey on each tortilla; layer with tomato, carrots, lettuce and cheese. Drizzle with salad dressing. Roll tightly, slice and serve.

Per serving: 317 calories, 14 grams protein, 13 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 28 milligrams cholesterol, 773 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

WEDNESDAY / Budget

You'll be happy as a clam with the money you save serving Clam Chowder tonight. Just add a green salad and multigrain rolls to this easy meal.

For dessert, fresh pineapple chunks are light.

Plan ahead: To save time on Thursday, cook 1 1/2 cups brown rice in 3 cups liquid.

Clam Chowder

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

1 14 1/2 -ounce can fat-free chicken broth

1 / 4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 / 8 teaspoon white or black pepper

3 medium peeled and cubed potatoes

1 rib sliced celery

1 medium chopped onion

1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk

2 tablespoons flour

2 6 1/2 -ounce cans minced clams

In a saucepan, mix broth, thyme, pepper, potatoes, celery and onion. Bring to boil; cover and cook on low 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. In a medium bowl, gradually mix milk into flour until smooth. Slowly add mixture to broth. Add clams. Cook until boiling and liquid begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 192 calories, 13 grams protein, 2 grams fat (7 percent calories from fat), 0.6 grams saturated fat, 31 grams carbohydrate, 19 milligrams cholesterol, 649 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

THURSDAY / Meatless

Enjoy the nutty flavor of brown rice in Vegetable Pilaf. Serve the flavorful rice-vegetable melange with a mixed green salad and crusty bread. Fat-free frozen strawberry yogurt is a perfect dessert.

Plan ahead: Save half the pilaf and enough frozen yogurt for Friday.

Vegetable Pilaf

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 8 to 12 minutes, plus rice and pecans

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli

3 medium julienned carrots

1 large chopped onion

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

3 minced garlic cloves

3 / 4 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil and salt

1 / 4 teaspoon pepper

5 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans (see Note)

freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

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