A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families
SUNDAY: Celebrate family day with your own leg of lamb. Serve it with a Southern favorite, Cheese and Garlic Grits: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 1 cup quick grits and ½ teaspoon garlic salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 (10 ¾-ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup, 1 tablespoon butter and a dash or two hot pepper sauce; mix well. Spread mixture in dish. Sprinkle with ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese and garnish with paprika. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese melts and bubbles. Serve with steamed carrots and a baguette. For dessert, buy a Boston cream pie.
Plan ahead: Save enough lamb, grits and pie for Monday.
MONDAY: Make Lamb Sandwiches for an easy meal. Brush slices of rosemary bread (or focaccia) with olive oil. Top with sliced leftover lamb, roasted red peppers (from a jar) cut into strips, sliced tomatoes, red-tipped lettuce and goat cheese. Warm the leftover grits to accompany the knock-your-socks-off flavor of the sandwich. Finish with leftover Boston cream pie.
TUESDAY: Some would say it's cheap, but we say it's frugal to save money with dishes like Mediterranean Lemon Chicken and Potatoes (see recipe). Serve the combo with steamed broccoli and crusty rolls. Enjoy pears for dessert.
WEDNESDAY: We're always in the mood for no-meat lasagna, and this Zucchini Lasagna (see recipe) didn't disappoint. Serve it with a bibb lettuce salad and Italian bread. For dessert, sprinkle sliced peaches with nutmeg.
THURSDAY: Tell the kids they are having Pigs in a Jacket for dinner and watch them laugh. Spread refried beans on whole-grain flour tortillas. Place heated hot dogs on the beans. Top with any shredded cheese; roll and heat in the microwave until the cheese melts. Make a salad by tossing shredded lettuce with chopped tomatoes and ranch dressing. For dessert, fresh orange slices are refreshing.
FRIDAY: Try Breakfast-for-Dinner Burritos. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook ½ cup chopped onion on medium or until softened. Add 1 cup egg substitute (Southwestern style, if available); sprinkle with pepper to taste. Cook and stir mixture until eggs are set. Divide mixture evenly among 4 (8-inch) warmed whole-grain flour tortillas; top with ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Fold tortillas over egg mixture; top with drained salsa. Serve with hash-browned potatoes. For dessert, make instant Banana Pudding. Stir in sliced bananas and garnish with vanilla wafers.
SATURDAY: Invite friends for delicious Asian Flounder. Remove tops from 8 green onions and slice tops into 1-inch pieces to measure ¼ cup; set aside. Cut white portion into 2-inch pieces. Combine ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Fold 4 (5- or 6-ounce) skinless flounder filets in half and place in baking dish. Arrange white part of onions around filets. Combine onion tops, 1 more teaspoon dark sesame oil and 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce and pour over fish. Cover with plastic wrap and vent. Microwave on 100% power for 4 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Let stand 1 minute, covered. Spoon liquid over fish. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve with jasmine rice. Add fresh steamed sugar snap peas, a bibb lettuce salad and sourdough rolls. Lemon-Blueberry Angel Cake Dessert (see recipe) is a delicious and beautiful lower-calorie dessert.
Mediterranean Lemon Chicken and Potatoes
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound yellow potatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
½ cup olive oil vinaigrette
Heaping ¼ cup quartered Kalamata olives
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
½ cup chopped tomato
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except tomato. Place equal amounts of mixture onto 4 large squares of heavy-duty foil. Fold top and sides of each packet to enclose filling, leaving room for air to circulate. Place on a baking sheet; bake 30 minutes. Carefully open packets away from your face; sprinkle equal amounts of tomato over each.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 418 calories, 39 g protein, 15 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 109 mg cholesterol, 777 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2.
3 cups OR 1 (26-ounce) jar red pasta sauce
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
12 uncooked no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup part-skim ricotta or small-curd cottage cheese
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix pasta sauce, zucchini and basil. Spread one-third of mixture in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish; top with half the noodles. Mix ricotta cheese, parmesan and oregano; spread over noodles in dish. Spread with one-third of the pasta sauce mixture. Top with remaining noodles and pasta sauce mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before portioning.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 316 calories, 19 g protein, 9 g fat, 39 g carbohydrate, 31 mg cholesterol, 367 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.
Lemon-Blueberry Angel Cake Dessert
½ (7- to 8-inch) angel food cake (about 5 ounces)
8 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest (yellow part only)
1 ½ cups frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed and divided
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and drained (divided)
Lemon peel strips for garnish, if desired
Cut cake into ½-inch cubes; place half of cubes in 2-quart souffle dish.
In a medium bowl, beat cheese with an electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add lemon juice and continue beating until combined. Stir in lemon zest. Fold in about ¼ cup of dessert topping until combined, then fold in remaining topping. Divide mixture in half; stir 1 ½ cups berries into one portion of cheese mixture. Spoon over cake cubes in dish. Top with remaining cake cubes and remaining plain cheese mixture. Cover and freeze about 4 hours or until firm. Before serving, sprinkle with remaining blueberries. If desired, garnish with lemon peel strips.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 113 calories, 3 g protein, 5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 14 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:
Food on 01/22/2020
Print Headline: 7-day menu planner