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
Break the cooking-from-scratch rule today and enjoy a fully cooked pork loin roast with gravy by Mosey's (or another brand).
Keep it simple with rice and green beans on the side. Add sourdough bread.
For dessert, buy a Boston cream pie.
Plan ahead: Save enough pork and pie for Monday; prepare enough rice for Tuesday.
Tip: We found Mosey's Pork and Gravy at a warehouse club store for $3.47 a pound.
MONDAY / Heat & Eat
Make open-face pork roast sandwiches tonight (using dense white bread).
Spoon gravy over it and add mashed potatoes on the side. Brighten the plate with tiny frozen green peas.
Slice leftover pie for dessert.
TUESDAY / Express
Make a quick stir fry of chicken and vegetables for dinner.
Spoon over leftover rice. Top with a splash of reduced-sodium soy sauce if you like.
Add a crusty loaf of bread. Deli brownies should satisfy your sweet tooth.
Plan ahead: Prepare an extra batch of vegetables (without chicken) for Wednesday. Buy enough brownies for Wednesday.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes
1 14 1/2 -ounce can Oriental broth, divided
5 cups cut fresh vegetables for stir frying (like celery, carrots, broccoli, scallions or others)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 8- to 10-ounce package cooked, carved chicken breast (like Perdue)
In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat 3 / 4 cup broth and add vegetables.
Bring to boil, cover and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
Mix cornstarch with remaining broth, add to skillet. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.
Add chicken to skillet and cook until chicken is heated through.
Per serving: 143 calories, 15 grams protein, 3 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 0.7 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 36 milligrams cholesterol, 1,053 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
WEDNESDAY / Budget
Stuffed baked potatoes are on the save-money menu tonight. Bake large (8-ounce) potatoes, slash the tops and stuff with heated leftover vegetables. (If you have any leftover pork and gravy, chop and add to the vegetables.) Serve with a lettuce wedge with blue cheese vinaigrette. (Add crumbled blue cheese to a light vinaigrette). Add whole-wheat bread. For dessert, warm the leftover brownies and serve with sliced peaches.
THURSDAY / Meatless
Tex-Mex Pitas will make you forget meat. Stuff whole-wheat pitas with a mixture of canned black beans, rice, chopped tomatoes and chopped mangoes. Add some green chilies or sliced jalapeno peppers if you like. Serve with sliced cucumbers and radishes. For dessert, fat-free strawberry ice cream is cool.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.
FRIDAY / Kids
Pizza Tater Casserole has "kid" written all over it. Add multigrain rolls on the side. Serve with toasted s'mores, another kid-pleaser.
Plan ahead: Cook couscous and sun-dried tomatoes for Saturday.
Pizza Tater Casserole
Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 38 to 43 minutes
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 chopped medium red bell pepper
1/2 finely chopped medium onion
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 11 1 / 8 -ounce can condensed Italian tomato soup (undiluted) or other tomato soup
14 1/2 -ounce container drained sliced mushrooms
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 32-ounce package frozen Tater Tots potatoes (or another brand)
Heat oven to 400. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet, cook turkey, bell pepper, onion and carrots 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened and turkey is no longer pink; drain. Add soup and mushrooms and mix well.
Transfer to baking dish. Top with cheese, then potatoes. Bake uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Per serving: 338 calories, 21 grams protein, 14 grams fat (34 percent calories from fat), 3.6 grams saturated fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 47 milligrams cholesterol, 868 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.
Makes 18 bars
Preparation time: less than 10 minutes
Cooking time: 9 to 11 minutes
Standing time: 5 minutes
18 squares graham crackers, divided
36 halved marshmallows, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350. Place 9 crackers in bottom of a 9-inch square metal baking pan. Top with 36 marshmallow halves; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Top with remaining crackers. Arrange 4 marshmallow halves, cut sides down, to top of each cracker. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into bars using greased knife. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 118 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat (25 percent calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 59 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.
SATURDAY / Easy Entertaining