Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different aspect of meal planning.
There's a family meal, a kids' menu, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal, a meatless or "less meat" dish, an express meal, and an entertaining menu.
SUNDAY / Family
Prepare Rosemary Lemon Steak for today's family feast.
Serve with corn-on-the-cob. Add fresh green beans tossed in minced garlic and a little olive oil and, of course, dinner rolls.
For dessert, serve your favorite flavor of ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough steak, green beans and ice cream for Monday.
Rosemary Lemon Steak
Makes 8 servings (includes reserved steak)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes; standing: 10 minutes
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each dried rosemary and dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 1-pound trimmed flank steaks
Heat broiler. From 2 lemons, grate 4 teaspoons zest and squeeze 1 / 4 cup lemon juice. Cut other 2 lemons in wedges. Set aside. Mix lemon juice and zest with garlic, salt, rosemary, oregano and pepper until blended. Rub lemon mixture on each side of each steak. Place steaks on rack in broiler pan. Broil 15 minutes for medium-rare or until desired doneness; turn once. Transfer steaks to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. Slice 1 steak crosswise and serve slices with lemon wedges. Reserve the other steak for Monday.
Per serving: 187 calories, 24 grams protein, 9 grams fat (44 percent calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 364 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
MONDAY / Heat & Eat
Make steak salad with leftover sliced steak tossed with a packaged salad, halved cherry tomatoes and leftover green beans. If there's any corn left, cut it off the cob and add to the salad. Drizzle with a light red-wine vinaigrette and toss. Serve with sesame bread sticks. Scoop leftover ice cream for dessert.
TUESDAY / Express
Dinner couldn't be easier or tastier than Pasta With Olive Oil and Capers. Serve immediately with a packaged green salad and garlic bread. Fresh plums are dessert.
Pasta With Olive Oil and Capers
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 5 minutes plus pasta
9-ounce package of refrigerated mini-tortellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons drained capers
1 / 4 cup chopped parsley
1 / 8 to 1 / 4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Cook tortellini as directed. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Cook garlic 2 to 3 minutes. Add capers, parsley, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste and heat 2 or more minutes. Drain pasta, add to skillet and stir gently to mix. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 270 calories, 10 grams protein, 12 grams fat (39 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 24 milligrams cholesterol, 311 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
WEDNESDAY / Kids
Lightlife Foods (or another brand meatless low-fat hot dogs) Wonder Dogs are children's best friend because they are so mild. Serve 'em in a bun with mustard or ketchup.
Adults might want to liven them up with sauerkraut and canned vegetarian chili. We sure did.
Tater Tots are for everyone, as are Kiwi Bowls. (Halve the kiwis and eat with a spoon.)
Plan ahead: If time permits, prepare Thursday's casserole tonight and then reheat.
THURSDAY / Meatless
Three-Grain Casserole has the right combination of grains for complete protein. Serve the fiber-packed combo with frozen tiny green peas and whole wheat pitas. Juicy fresh peaches are a perfect dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough casserole for Friday.
Tip: Garnish the casserole with chopped pickled jalapeno peppers if desired.
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: less than 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces chopped white mushrooms
2 thinly sliced (on diagonal) carrots
1 / 4 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 / 4 cup uncooked brown rice
1 / 4 cup uncooked bulgur
one 15- to 19-ounce can rinsed and drained black beans
one 11-ounce can rinsed and drained corn
1 1 / 4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Heat oven to 350. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook mushrooms, carrots, onion and garlic 5 minutes, or until onion is softened and mushrooms are juicy. Stir in barley, rice and bulgur and cook 1 minute. Add beans and corn and transfer into a 1 1/2 -quart baking dish. Stir in the broth and soy sauce and cover tightly. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until grains are tender. Stir once halfway through baking time. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Recover and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
Adapted from Cook & Tell by Karyl Bannister (Houghton Mifflin, $23, 2001).