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story.lead_photo.caption Fresh, perfectly ripe peaches are the foundation of Peach and Tomato Salad (Photo by Jack Dykinga)

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: Make it a relaxed Sunday and buy a deli Meat-and-Cheese Platter; serve it with assorted sandwich breads. Serve the variety of sliced meats and cheeses with deli coleslaw on the side. Add baked chips, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and pickles. Try Peach and Tomato Salad (see recipe) on the side. Don't forget deli brownies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Buy enough coleslaw for Monday and enough brownies for Wednesday.

MONDAY: You won't overexert yourself on Labor Day if you use your slow cooker and a seasoning packet for Barbecue Pulled Pork. Stir in ketchup, light brown sugar and cider vinegar as directed on seasoning packet, and serve it on whole-grain hamburger buns. Add South-of-the-Border Potato Salad (see recipe), a favorite at our house, and leftover coleslaw. Celebrate further with Blue Angel Cake: slice an angel food cake, top with vanilla ice cream and garnish with blueberries and fresh mint.

Plan ahead: Save enough barbecue, potato salad and cake for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Use your leftover pork for Barbecue Tacos. Heat the barbecue meat and spoon into taco shells; top with jalapeno peppers and all your favorite fixings. Serve with leftover potato salad, pickles and canned pinto beans. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Forget meat tonight and enjoy Chile-Walnut Egg Puff: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup egg substitute and 1 whole egg into large bowl. Combine and sift ¼ cup flour and ½ teaspoon baking powder over the eggs. Whisk together until completely blended. Mix in 1 cup cottage cheese, ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, ½ cup chopped and toasted walnuts and 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles. Pour into baking dish. Bake about 35 minutes or until puffy and set, and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve with hash-browned potatoes (from frozen) and add a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Sweeten the finish with leftover brownies for dessert.

THURSDAY: Kids will like the flavors of Mexican Chicken Bake (see recipe). Serve with guacamole on shredded lettuce with sour cream. How about a strawberry ice cream cone for dessert?

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

FRIDAY: Hold down the food budget with canned corned beef hash. Serve with hard-cooked egg wedges, deli carrot salad and rye bread. Fresh nectarines are a juicy dessert.

SATURDAY: Caribbean Spiced Cod With Brown Rice is just as delicious as it is easy for a family event: In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium. Add 1 medium red bell pepper (diced) and 1 ½ teaspoons jerk seasoning; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 cups quick-cooking brown rice, 2 cups boiling water and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Place 4 (6-ounce) cod filets on top of rice mixture. Sprinkle cod with ½ teaspoon more jerk seasoning and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until cod is opaque throughout and rice is tender. Add steamed fresh green beans, a Boston lettuce salad and a baguette alongside. Top leftover ice cream with toasted coconut.


Peach and Tomato Salad

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into ½-inch-thick wedges and wedges halved crosswise

1 teaspoon table salt, divided use

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 pound ripe peaches, halved, pitted, cut into ½-inch-thick wedges and wedges halved crosswise

1 shallot, sliced into thick rings

½ teaspoon pepper

5 tablespoons mint leaves, torn

Combine tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in bowl and toss to coat; transfer to colander and let drain in sink 30 minutes. Into same bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, zest and juice. Add peaches, shallot and drained tomato to dressing and toss gently to coat. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto serving platter and sprinkle with mint. Drizzle with extra oil if desired. (Adapted from "The Complete Summer Cookbook," America's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 109 calories, 2 g protein, 7 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 395 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

South-of-the-Border Potato Salad

2 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered according to size

3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons chile powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Dash hot sauce, or to taste

1 (8 ¾-ounce) can shoe peg corn, rinsed

1 medium carrot, shredded

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup sliced black olives

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Cook potatoes in boiling water 10 minutes or until tender; drain and place in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, sugar, chile powder, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Pour over potatoes; toss gently. Cover with foil. Refrigerate 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator; add corn, carrot, red bell pepper, olives and onion; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 186 calories, 3 g protein, 7 g fat, 29 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 381 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

Mexican Chicken Bake

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ cup minced onion

2 ½ cups cooked shredded chicken breast

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix

8 corn tortillas

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided use

2 cups mild or medium chunky salsa

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. Add onion and cook 4 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; stir in chicken, chilies and seasoning mix. Set aside.

Layer half the tortillas in baking dish. Top with chicken mixture, beans and 1 cup cheese. Layer with remaining tortillas. Top with salsa and remaining cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted; serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced sodium beans and low-fat cheese) contains approximately 266 calories, 25 g protein, 9 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 52 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:


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