A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families
SUNDAY: Spice up family day with Grilled Mojo Chicken With Pineapple Salsa (see recipe). Serve with corn-on-the-cob, a mixed green salad tossed with fresh blueberries and crusty bread. For dessert, Tapioca Pudding With Strawberries is summery and light: Combine 2 cups quartered fresh strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint; toss gently. Spoon over tapioca pudding.
Plan ahead: Save enough pudding for Monday and enough strawberries for Tuesday.
MONDAY: Keep expenses down with economical Linguine With Tuna. Toss 2 (6-ounce) cans of drained and flaked albacore tuna with hot cooked linguine, fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with salad greens and a baguette. Leftover tapioca pudding is an easy dessert.
TUESDAY: Summer salads are always welcome, just like this Lemon Pepper Spinach Salad With Chicken. For the dressing: Whisk ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning in small bowl. Heat another tablespoon olive oil in large skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle bite-size chicken breast pieces (1 pound total) with 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning and add to pan. Cook chicken, stirring, 5 minutes or until cooked through; cool slightly. Toss 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach leaves with dressing in large bowl. Top with chicken, 1 cup (leftover) sliced strawberries, ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds and ¼ cup crumbled cooked bacon. Serve with whole-grain rolls. Munch on oatmeal-raisin cookies for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY: Flag down the kids racing through the kitchen with a pit stop of Chicken Mexi-Melt. In a medium bowl, combine 2 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken, ½ cup finely chopped carrots, 1 (1.25-ounce) envelope taco seasoning; mix well. For each serving, place 1 whole-grain tortilla (of 12 total) on a microwave-safe plate. Spread with 1 tablespoon mild picante sauce. Top with about ¼ cup chicken mixture and 2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese; repeat layers two more times. Microwave 1 serving at a time on 100% power for 2 ½ to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Alongside, add celery sticks. For dessert, leftover cookies and apple slices are crunchy.
THURSDAY: Increase your calcium and fiber with Italian Vegetable Pasta Bake (see recipe). Add a lettuce wedge with hard-cooked egg slices and garlic bread. Brownies are always a popular dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough pasta bake for Friday.
FRIDAY: Enjoy some extra leisure time while you reheat Friday's pasta bake for dinner tonight. Serve with a mixed green salad and Italian bread. Sliced cantaloupe is a refreshing dessert.
SATURDAY: Your family will rave about the flavor of Mexican Shrimp and Vegetable Kebabs (see recipe), and you'll love the simple preparation. Serve the kebabs over rice tossed with fresh chopped parsley. Add a baby romaine salad and sourdough bread. Buy a peach crisp for dessert. Serve with vanilla frozen yogurt.
Grilled Mojo Chicken With Pineapple Salsa
1 (1.5-pound) package individually wrapped chicken breast portions
1 (20-ounce) bottle mojo criollo citrus marinade or marinade of your choice
1 ¼ teaspoons adobo seasoning
8 rings fresh pineapple, sliced ½ inch thick
1 cup chopped tomato
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, if desired
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
In a resealable plastic bag, combine chicken and marinade. Toss to coat; marinate in refrigerator 2 hours.
Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade and let extra marinade drip off. Season chicken with adobo seasoning; grill 3 to 5 minutes per side. Chicken is done when it feels firm to touch and internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove chicken from grill; let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Grill pineapple about 4 minutes per side or until charred. Transfer pineapple to cutting board and chop into chunks. In medium bowl, stir pineapple, tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, oil, lime juice and salt until combined. Top chicken with salsa and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 205 calories, 25 g protein, 5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 73 mg cholesterol, 847 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.
Italian Vegetable Pasta Bake
3 cups mostaccioli pasta (or any small tube pasta such as penne or ziti)
1 (25- to 28-ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided use
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, pasta sauce, dried basil, ½ cup mozzarella, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini and bell pepper; mix well. Spoon into baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 228 calories, 11 g protein, 4 g fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 9 mg cholesterol, 165 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.
Mexican Shrimp and Vegetable Kebabs
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chile powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 cups assorted vegetables, such as zucchini (cut into ½-inch pieces), onions (cut into ½-inch wedges), whole mushrooms, bell peppers (cut into 1-inch pieces)
In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and salt; mix well. Add shrimp to marinade, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Thread 4 metal skewers alternately with shrimp and vegetables.
Broil or grill 7 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, or until the shrimp are cooked and vegetables are tender.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 181 calories, 18 g protein, 9 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 143 mg cholesterol, 415 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: